Blackhawks making Teravainen feel at home
When a late-arriving Teuvo Teravainen finally hit the ice for Friday's morning skate, one by one many of his Blackhawks teammates subtly skated toward him, welcoming him with words of encouragement in that hockey player kind of way.
There was Marian Hossa, Jonathan Toews and fellow Finn Antti Raanta sidling up to the 19-year-old, who was admittedly still a little bleary-eyed after landing in Chicago just a few hours earlier.
Being the new guy on the team is never an easy thing, but being the new guy coming in with such high expectations and joining a team jockeying for playoff position is even more daunting.
"He's so young that you hope he feels comfortable," Ben Smith said. "That's the biggest thing for a guy so young.
"He's a good player and he'll do what he does. I'm hoping he doesn't feel that pressure, but I'm sure that will be addressed here. Someone will talk to him and say, 'Hey, just play your game. Enjoy what you're going through.' "
For Smith, that someone was No. 10.
"I remember for me it was Patrick Sharp," Smith said. "He's kind of been the guy; right from early on in training camp, he watched my first exhibition game and came up to me and said, 'Hey, you're a good player. Keep working hard. You have a future here.'
"That was nice to hear from a guy like that."
Other than the enormous expectations being heaped upon Teravainen, there were a couple of differences between his and Smith's arrival in Chicago: Smith wasn't 19, and he wasn't coming over from a different country.
"I was bit older, playing for my college team," he said. "So for him, to transition away from home it'll be tough, but right away I saw Antti skate over to him and say hello, so that's going to help having someone from Finland with him.
"It's exciting for everyone here to see how he can do and hopefully adapt to the North American game and do well."
It looks like Teravainen will get his first shot at it either Sunday night against Nashville or Tuesday when the Hawks host Dallas, depending on the whim of coach Joel Quenneville, of course.
"It's always tough. It's up to that individual player to ask as many questions as they can and learn from the coaching staff and the leaders to try and understand the game plan and our team systems," Sharp said. "But at the end of the day, we're just playing hockey.
"Teuvo has shown what he can do in the preseason, and I'm sure he has confidence that he can play at this level and contribute."
And if he needed one more piece of advice as he prepares to make his NHL debut, here's what Andrew Shaw would tell him: "Just have fun and work. You're going to be on the ice with some great players -- just do what got you here. Those are my words of wisdom."