By Jay Zawaski-
(CBS) — From the moment he arrived in Chicago, the Blackhawks brass has gone out of its way to say that rookie Teuvo Teravainen is “just another player.” The idea in such a statement was to take pressure off the young Finn, but Tuesday night, it was evident in other ways.
While Teravainen’s debut was impressive in many aspects, his teammates were the stars. From Corey Crawford’s first-period heroics to Marian Hossa being Marian Hossa, the Hawks’ 4-2 win was very satisfying.
After a shaky start to the first period, the Hawks clamped down and controlled the game. Andrew Shaw scored an absolute beauty from his knees, while Kris Versteeg and Duncan Keith took advantage of our good friend, Annette Front-Presence. It was a team win from start to finish.
But I know why you’re really here, so let’s talk about Teuvo.
Teravainen played 11:39 and 16 shifts Tuesday night. While much was made about his perceived defensive liabilities, some of his most impressive moments came in the defensive zone. In the first period, Teravainen read a centering pass beautifully. He intercepted the feed, then quickly shifted to offense. His quick, sharp pass led to a prime Ben Smith scoring chance. Later in the game, Teravainen saw that Niklas Hjalmarsson had lost his stick. He turned back, gave the defenseman his stick, checked his assignment and headed to the bench once it was safe. Coach Joel Quenneville expressed his pleasure in his post ame news conference, saying, “I liked him … good start.”
Offensively, Teravainen’s skill was evident. More than once, he caught teammates off guard with impossible passes. Teravainen really showed his skill set on the power play. He set up along the right wing boards and played Patrick Kane’s familiar quarterback role. As soon as the Stars gave him space, he’d put the pass on the money. Shaw’s power-play goal originated off of Teravainen’s board play.
The fear entering Tuesday’s game was that Teuvo would be overwhelmed, undersized and unprepared for the NHL game. He didn’t look out of place for a second. While his debut wasn’t spectacular, it was certainly satisfying, just like tonight’s win.
Remembering a true pro
On a more somber note, I wanted to take a second to say a word or two about Tim Sassone, who passed away Tuesday. Tim had been covering the Hawks for the Daily Herald since 1988 and was one of my professional heroes. When I grew up watching the Hawks, Tim was one of the few people truly carrying the torch for Chicago hockey. When I went to college and began to hone my radio/journalism skills, I always used Tim as a personal example. He was one of the best in town and will be greatly missed.
I regret that I never told Tim how much he influenced my career and love for the game. Truthfully, every time I saw him I got a little star struck, and while he was always nice to me, I’d always get nervous when he was around. I wanted to impress him. Hell, I wanted to BE him. Tim was the example. He was the pinnacle to a young sports journalist like myself.
Rest in Peace, Tim.
Jay Zawaski covers the Blackhawks for CBSChicago.com and 670 The Score. Follow him on Twitter at @JayZawaski670.