Oct 022014

By Chris Block

In this week’s news, the Blackhawks have a highly-regarded NHL prospect.

In fact, this prospect could be in line to earn a spot on the Opening Night roster, but the team says they don’t know for certain.

The problem is the player missed a week of training camp and three preseason games. So, they need to see more of him.

Fair enough. Makes sense… In other news, the team is chose not to see the aforementioned player last night when the Blackhawks host the Montreal Canadiens in the final home game of the exhibition season.

Teuvo Teravainen, despite getting into only one game thus far due to injury, didn’t dress in the Hawks’ second-to-last preseason game against the Canadiens.

“We haven’t seen him a ton this camp,” Joel Quenneville said Wednesday morning when speaking to reporters about the 20-year old prospect. “We liked him in the game he played. We like him in practice. I thought he was fine at Notre Dame. We see progress to his game. It seems like he’s a little stronger.”

Quenneville went on to explain that Teuvo’s shortened camp has complicated his evaluation.

“Awareness, really tough [to] gauge now defensively to watch him via the scrimmages we had and the game. We’ll probably get him in Friday and let’s see.” [Link/Quotes: ESPNChicago, Scott Powers’ report]

So, you say it’s tough to evaluate Teravainen because you haven’t seen enough of him this camp, and then scratch him in the first of two exhibition games you have left.

Where have we seen this play before?

If, in fact, you’ve decided to start him in the minors for two months, like everyone knew was a good possibility anyhow, just do so.

Have the courage to stand on your own convictions and behind your hockey decision.

I find it incredibly hard to believe that the head coach and general manager have yet to touch base on the possibility of the organization’s undisputed top prospect’s potential to make the Opening Night roster. That roster, by the way, has to be set and cap compliant in less than five days now – Tuesday at 4pm.

Don’t orchestrate this ridiculous charade-routine with Teravainen again. All it really serves to do is insult your fan base. Not to mention how unprofessional its handling has been to the player and his representation since Teravainen agreed to leave Finland, and his existing contract with Jokerit in March.

Montreal has essentially its junior varsity squad to Chicago last night to face the Blackhawks.

I can’t help but think the concern here is if Teuvo scores another goal, or stood out with a particularly solid performance against a tablescraps of Habs — then the powers that be would feel uncomfortable fronting the media when having to cry their song and dance that Teuvo doesn’t fit onto their roster just yet. Or, that they didn’t get enough of a sample size of Teravainen this camp, and thus he –unfortunately- didn’t get a full opportunity to beat someone else out of a roster spot.

Spare it.

Whatever the reason for holding Teravainen out of the NHL for a little while longer is, let’s hear it.

The player deserves that transparency more than anyone. Every prospect does.

If the thought is that they aren’t convinced Teravainen is physically ready to withstand a full 100-plus game NHL grind, that’s fine. There are ways of saying that too without diminishing the player’s value in anyone’s view.

From an outsider’s perspective, it appears Teravainen’s only chance to make the Hawks out of camp now would be if both Kris Versteeg and Jeremy Morin were to be properties of another team by next week. If Stan knows there’s a chance of that happening, he’d be justified in keeping Teuvo on board until that situation played itself out.

There’s one problem with that theory. If both Versteeg and Morin were potentially on the move, Teravainen should be playing in as many exhibition games as possible.

But, he’s not. Instead, it seems, the decision makers pre-booked Teuvo’s bus ticket to Rockford, just as they did with Adam Clendening, Joakim Nordstrom and others.

Morin has dressed in all five of the team’s preseason contests. Morin’s unquestionably being showcased. For who, though [the front office, the coaching staff, 29 other NHL teams or all of the above?], is uncertain. We could have a clearer picture of that soon.

Teravainen scored a goal and fit in quite nicely on Sunday in his preseason debut against the Oilers in Saskatoon.  In fact, he was one of the better players on either end the ice.

Which, of course, means he had to sit out the next game.

As the roster sits now, preceding the inevitable cap-shredding move, the only spot Teravainen can contend for is either as center or right wing on the third line. Those spots are currently occupied by Andrew Shaw and Kris Versteeg.

That line was great for the most part in Saskatoon and deserved to stay intact, as they did, for Wednesday’s game against the Habs.

Marian Hossa sat last night’s game out as a precautionary measure. This created an opportunity to see another skilled player skate on one of the Hawks’ top scoring lines.

Instead, Quenneville slotted Ben Smith there. Smith’s is a valuable role player for the Hawks’ coach. He’s done his best work on the 4th line and the penalty kill, yet he has enough ability and hockey sense to play either wing up and down the lineup card. In a pinch, he can fill in on the Toews’ line, though long term, that’s not the best spot for him. This would all fall in the category of “knowns.”

What would have been nice to see last night is how Morin or Teravainen would respond to a look-see on the Hawks’ top line. If Morin does stick around, he should be the guy Quenneville turns to if Hossa can’t go on any given night. If the Hawks or Quenneville doesn’t see that spot as something in Morin’s wheelhouse, then I don’t see the point of keeping Morin around at all.

It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you don’t put young players in positions to succeed, they won’t succeed.

Teravainen skating alongside Toews and Sharp would have been exciting to see. And my guess it would have produced results much the same.

Which is probably why we didn’t see it.


Afternoon Delights

–Blackhawks recalled Klas Dahlbeck from Rockford on Thursday afternoon. Dahlbeck was scheduled to play tonight in Rockford for the IceHogs in their first preseason game against the Chicago Wolves.

Joel Quenneville on Tuesday said that Brad Richards will man a point position on the Blackhawks’ second power play unit. Al Cimaglia and I talked about this the day before, on Monday night’s PuckChatter~Radio. Richards’ greatest contribution over time to this team could be on that power play.

Cam Barker is in Rockford IceHogs’ training camp on a try-out. I speculated to this in a post the other day, but didn’t have any definitive knowledge to whether it was happening or not. It would make sense if only the IceHogs didn’t already have ten AHL defensemen. Barker will dress for the IceHogs in tonight’s preseason opener.

–I can’t see the Blackhawks keeping Brandon Mashinter, Peter Regin and Jeremy Morin all on the roster if Kris Versteeg isn’t dealt. They could do it, of course. But it wouldn’t make much sense. The operative approach would be to carry 13 forwards with Mashinter and Regin alternating in and out of the lineup. This gives the roster the pugilist element it demands and Regin is a serviceable, low-maintenance 13th forward. The reality for Regin, though, is whenever there’s a prolonged injury in the top 9 that spot’s going to Teravainen.

Brent Sopel is in Chicago Wolves’ training camp on a try-out. Fellow 2010 Blackhawks’ teammate Colin Fraser will be there too once he clears waivers after being cut from St. Louis Blues’ camp. Steve McCarthy is also in Wolves’ camp on a try-out. That’s like a bi-yearly thing with him though.

Bobby Ryan inked a 7-year contract extension with Ottawa today.

Read this excellent piece by the great hockey writer Gare Joyce on Bobby Ryan’s difficult childhood, domestic abuse, his originally given name and his family’s time on the run from the F.B.I. [Rogers SportsNet Magazine] It’s well worth the time spent reading.

Ryan’s new deal, which doesn’t kick-in until 2015-16, averages $7.25M over the seven year term. Pierre LeBrun suggests this is an overpayment and Ryan most likely wouldn’t have got that kind of money on the free market next summer. This isn’t as good of an article as above. Whenever you see someone compare a contract signed today to that of a similar player’s signed four years ago, to say that the newer deal is out of bounds, you should save your time and stop reading right there.  LeBrun, I consider a go-to read, generally.  But this is one he needed to spend more time thinking about because with his wealth of experience in covering the league, he should know better.

–Senators also named Erik Karlsson new team captain on Thursday.

–Story on what Theo Fleury is up to these days. [Katie Strang, ESPN.com] Theo’s book “Playing With Fire” is an incredible read for a lot of reasons.

–NHL, Union reportedly talking more than just rekindling World Cup tourney. [Rick Westhead, TSN.ca].  There’s little to nothing to gain for the NHL in this.

–Jason Spezza’s a UFA next summer and says he’s not concerned with talking contract extension with the Dallas Stars right now. [Pierre LeBrun ESPN.com]

In the article, Spezza seems to imply he’ll be willing to talk extension if the Stars are winners.

“If we start winning games, it’s going to be a good fit for both sides,” Spezza tells LeBrun when discussion possible extension talks. “It’s just a matter of getting comfortable first. There’s no point in rushing into anything.”

Also, the Dallas Stars top line will be Tyler Seguin centering Jamie Benn and Valeri Nickushkin. There should be a Centre Ice channel specifically for that line.

Spezza will pivot the second line for Erik Cole and Ales Hemsky, the latter whom Spezza skated with the latter portion of last year in Ottawa. That would’ve been a great line in 2007.

–In this brief video clip, Sam Jardine talks being named Ohio State alternate captain. Senior forward Tanner Fritz will serve as the Buckeyes team captain for 2014-15. Jardine, a defenseman, is a 2011 sixth round pick of the Blackhawks. Both Fritz and Jardine participated in the Blackhawks’ 2014 summer prospect camp.

–To the person who Google searched “Chris Block hockey pants” a couple weeks ago, if you can find them hit me up.

–We still have a couple spots left in one of our TTMI Yahoo! Fantasy Hockey Leagues. We moved this draft back to Monday, October 6th at 9pm central. We’re at 8 teams as of this writing. If you’re interested joining, email me at the address below.


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  One Response to “Afternoon Delights: Hawks at it again with Teuvo”

  1. It’s all about the cap. Who the Hawks move dictates what space they have at the NHL level. If they don’t have enough, he’s in Rockford.

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