A couple times a week, I put myself through a ritual that makes me feel all the things. It provides joy and excitement, while also putting a mythical flaming dagger right into my chest cavity. It makes me pump my fist, and then direct that fist right into my own teeth/balls, whatever I’m feeling at the moment.
It’s watching Teuvo Teravainen play.
Maybe you’ve noticed, maybe you haven’t. Our Special Boy, our Finn of Dragons, our Turbo Targaryn, is lighting it up in Raleigh. He’s got 15 points in 17 games. Some of that is piling up eight points in his last four games, but it’s been ridiculous. He’s carrying a +5.0 relative Corsi-percentage on the best Corsi team in the league. He’s got a +3.8 relative xGF% on one of the better ones in the NHL.
But numbers don’t really tell the story. You have to watch him, Sebastien Aho, and Jordan Staal. Staal has 15 points in 17 games as well, the post points-per-game he’s ever had in his career. Teuvo and Aho on some shifts just look like they’re playing a different sport.
It’s amazing what happens when you just let a young player do what he does best. Those whipped passes without looking that Teuvo only got to flash here on occasion, where the puck is only on his stick for a blink before he’s finding someone on the other side of the ice, are heavily featured. He’s added a shooting-mentality at times, which the Hawks could never get through to him, though they pretty much asked him to sacrifice everything else to do so. The little fucker even scored on a slapshot against the Stars to kick off his natural hat trick on Monday.
It’s pleasure you usually have to pay for, mixed with pain… you usually have to pay for. Because it shouldn’t be happening there. When Stan Bowman’s run comes to an end, no matter when, losing Teuvo Teravainen for nothing, merely to clear Bryan Bickell’s contract, might end up his biggest mistake. What would he look like on a line with Alex DeBrincat right now? What would the whole forward corps look like with Teuvo’s skills and flexibility?
It shouldn’t be this way. It’s a huge indictment on the way the Hawks used to run (still do?) that someone’s souring on Teuvo could become an organization-wide feeling. This is a player who took over a Stanley Cup Final game at the age of 20 in the 3rd period. He kick-started a near-miracle comeback in Anaheim in Game 5. His line came up with three of the biggest goals in that run in ’15–the winners in Games 1 and 5 in the Final and the OT winner in Game 4 against the Ducks.
And yet the Hawks could only see what wasn’t there. He wasn’t big enough, even though his hands and mind would have compensated in the middle. He didn’t shoot enough or forecheck hard enough, even though his vision would have made him the clear second-best playmaker on the team, behind only one of the league’s best in Patrick Kane.
Stan and Q will never suffer for it, as all they have to do is point at their three banners. And even if they’d kept Teuvo, after this latest contract is up he might have been too expensive then.
This is the NHL they want. Where if you make the mistake of paying someone like Brent Seabrook, you lose Teuvo and the chance to have Panarin and Saad together and/or Stephen Johns or Nick Leddy. That doesn’t make Stan an idiot. It just makes him not perfect.
I try to just enjoy Teuvo without any of the context. But it’s impossible. Some ex’s never escape your mind. You always wonder…