Teuvo Teravainen never complained.
He played on the left side, even though it didn’t suit his game. He played on the right side, even though he’s a center. He played on a checking line, even though he’s a gifted offensive talent. He filled in for teammates when they were sick or injured. He was in an out of the power play, in and out of the penalty kill. He did everything he was asked to do, and did it well.
And now he’s getting his reward. Stan Bowman went out and got Teravainen two wingers to play with in Dale Weise and Tomas Fleischmann, Suddenly, Teravainen’s back home at center. And suddenly, he’s on a more offensive-minded line. And if Sunday’s strong effort against the Washington Capitals is any indication, Teravainen got a significant boost from the vote of confidence he received from the Blackhawks.
“Teuvo is a big part of this,” said Bowman, who made only two minor-league trades leading up to Monday’s trade deadline, his big moves made on Thursday and Friday. “Sometimes people overlook the fact that more than anybody on our group of forwards, he’s bounced around and had to be the most versatile guy. That’s not easy to do for a young guy who’s trying to get established in the league.”
Teravainen always was unlikely to be dealt, though a source said multiple teams had inquired about him in trade talks leading up to the deadline. But there’s a difference between being pretty sure you’re sticking around, and being told in no uncertain terms that you’re a centerpiece, a player the team is trying to build around and put in a position to succeed.
“I didn’t think about it at all, pretty much,” Teravainen said. “You never know what happens, but I was really confident I could be here and help this team, and maybe be, like, the future. That’s my goal.”
He is a big part of the future, but he’s very much a part of the present, too. What has separated the Hawks from other teams in recent years has been their depth. Almost every quality team can ice two scoring lines. Usually the third line is a checking line of sorts, and the fourth line plays a limited role. In both 2013 and 2015, the Hawks’ third line was a scoring line — it was Patrick Sharp, Antoine Vermette and Teravainen last season —and the fourth line was a solid checking line capable of playing 12-15 minutes a night.
That four-line rotation is crucial during the two-month grind of a Stanley Cup run. And even without Weise, Marian Hossa and Marcus Kruger, the Hawks looked like a real four-line team on Sunday for the first time in a long time. Teravainen played with Fleischmann and Andrew Desjardins, but likely will be with Fleischmann and Weise once Weise’s visa issues are resolved.
“[Teravainen] has been playing well,” Crawford said. “I mean, it’s tough to come out with great games every time, but for a guy who maybe doesn’t get a ton of ice time, he played well. He found some chemistry with Fleisch and Desi out there. That line played really well.”
On just their fifth shift together, Fleischmann fed Teravainen with a nifty pass for a great scoring chance in the slot.
“Fleisch was really good [Sunday],” Teravainen said. “I think we made really nice plays out there, and he plays with his head up and he has really nice offensive skills. That’s nice. I think we can really create a lot of things.”
It’s yet another new role for Teravainen. But it’s the one he’s best suited for, and while he’s made himself invaluable as the Hawks’ go-to utility man, he’s hoping this one sticks.
“It’s always nice to have a role you play every night,” Teravainen said. “But I’ve been playing with pretty much every guy and every line, too, so that’s good for me. I got some experience. I got to play, got to know everybody. [But] of course, it makes it a little easier when you’re always at the same spot.”
NOTE: The Hawks acquired goaltender Drew MacIntyre from Carolina in exchange for minor-league defenseman Dennis Robertson. MacIntyre will report to Rockford. They also sent Corey Tropp to Anaheim for veteran forward Tim Jackman and a seventh-round pick in 2017. Neither trade is expected to have any NHL impact.