Bob Verdi: Meet Teuvo Teravainen
At the National Hockey League’s annual draft last month, the Blackhawks selected as their No. 1 choice Teuvo Teravainen, a 17-year-old forward from Finland. Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman, pleasantly surprised that Teravainen was still available as the 18th pick, described him as “a dynamic offensive player.” Teravainen is participating in the Prospect Camp this week, and he spent a few moments with Blackhawks Team Historian Bob Verdi.
What are your impressions of Chicago so far?
It’s an awesome city. Helsinki, which is home, is not small. But it is not as big as Chicago. You have nice restaurants here. And traffic. A lot of traffic.
Have you been out at all?
A little bit. My agent, Bill Zito, is from here. So I’m staying with him.
Do you miss the food from home?
I like hamburgers and pizza. Pasta, too. There’s plenty of that in Chicago. I don’t eat that all the time, but they’re my favorites.
Did you have an idol while growing up?
The Finnish players I really look up to are Teemu Selanne, who is still in the NHL after a lot of years, and Valtteri Filppula of Detroit. I also am a big fan of Pavel Datsyuk and, of course, Patrick Kane. I’ve watched him play for the Blackhawks a few times. We get NHL games on TV back in Finland. I really like the way he plays. I would like to do some of the things he does on the ice.
According to the Blackhawks’ scouts, you have many of the same skills. One of them said you have “great hands” and do everything quickly. The report on you also said you have terrific hockey instincts, which can’t be taught.
I hope that’s right. All I ever wanted to be, as long as I can remember, is a hockey player. I think when I was 5, I decided this is what I want to do.
When you were playing for your team in Finland, whether it was Jokerit or in a tournament, are you aware that NHL scouts were watching?
Oh, you know they are there. Maybe you hear about it or actually see them in the stands watching. But once the games start, you don’t think about that. You think about the game that you have to play.
The Blackhawk scouts envision you as a center, because they really like the way you handle the puck. Is that your best position?
Hard to say. I’ve played left wing, right wing and center. I think I’m pretty good with the puck. And I hate to lose. I like to have fun on the ice, because it is a game, but the most fun you can have in hockey is winning.
What are your recollections of draft day in Pittsburgh?
The whole thing was amazing. Maybe I expected to go sooner than I did, but I was really just waiting for my name to be called. I wanted to go to a good team, and the Blackhawks are a good team. I know they won the Stanley Cup in 2010 and that they have a good organization. Also, the Blackhawks are an Original Six team.
Soon after the draft, you came to Chicago and played in the Blackhawk Alumni golf tournament. What was that like?
Great day. Awesome course, Medinah. I didn’t play very well. I play a little bit back home when I get the chance, and I’m not bad. Maybe an 11 handicap. In Finland, during the summer, you can play until maybe 11 o’clock at night. It stays light very late.
And the sun rises very early, doesn’t it?
I don’t know. I’m sleeping. I think so. We are very far north.
When you return to Finland, what will you work on this winter?
I am still learning about defensive hockey. I think offensively I am pretty good. But I have to work on the other part of the game, and my body too. My legs are strong, but I need to get stronger in my upper body. I’m still growing.
Are you a hero back in Finland now that you’ve been drafted by the Blackhawks? Girlfriend excited?
I don’t have a girlfriend right now, but yes, my family and friends are very excited. I haven’t had to change my phone number yet.
Do you have a personal timetable for when you will make it to the NHL?
I’m confident that I will be good enough. Whether it will take one year or two or three, I don’t know. The most important thing is that I am ready when the time comes. I want to be sure that I am prepared to play, because I want to play well.
What do you do back home when you’re not playing hockey?
Nothing special. I hang around with my friends. Finland is a very beautiful country—very natural, a lot of lakes. It is a nice place to be outdoors, when it doesn’t rain. We get a lot of rain.
What about your family?
I have a younger brother and younger sister. My mother works and my dad is a dentist.
That’s helpful for a hockey player. Do you have all your teeth?
I do, but I lost this one in a game [pointing to tooth on lower right]. I took a stick to the mouth. But I found it on the ice and took it to a dentist. Not my father, another dentist. He fixed it. It was late at night, after a game.
You must have heard about Chicago winters. Do you like snow?
Oh, it doesn’t bother me. We have snow back home.
What are you going to do today after practice?
I am going to go shopping for shoes. While I was practicing, the shoes I wore to the rink got all wet. I think there was a leak or something in the locker room. So I will look for shoes. A lot of stores here in Chicago. I saw that, too. I think I’m going to enjoy it here, but I have to work hard to get here. Good team, the Blackhawks. Original Six.