There's a popular Finnish 1980s song about a Teuvo, "the king of the roads." That song is in active rotation in the Hartwall Areena in Helsinki, the home arena of Jokerit, the team of one Teuvo Teravainen.
Just his name makes him stand out a little. A Finnish derivate of Theodore, it was popular between the 1930s and 1950 when over 10,000 Finnish boys were named Teuvo, only to almost completely disappear from the map.
Of course, what makes Teravainen truly special are his hockey skills. The 19-year-old forward is now in his third season with Jokerit, and he's shown progress every single year. In his first season, he scored 11 goals and 18 points in 40 games, last season he scored 13 goals and 31 points in 44 games, and this season he's on pace to score 34 points, but he's also on pace to play 50-plus games.
Partly his lack of production can be explained by the whirlwind start to the season he's had. It began with the under-20 tournament in Lake Placid and continued with exhibition games with Jokerit before he attended training camp with the Chicago Blackhawks, who made him a first-round pick (No. 18) in the 2012 NHL Draft. When he returned home, the Finnish league regular season was already underway.
"The Lake Placid tournament went well, there were a lot players who're already in the NHL now, so it was a good measuring stick for me," Teravainen told NHL.com in a telephone interview recently.
"Attending the Blackhawks camp was also a great experience. It was useful for me to have a glimpse into that world, and to play a couple of exhibition games. Of course the game is much faster and everybody is a lot stronger than the players in Finland, but I thought I did alright."
Enough to know that if he works hard, he can make it to the NHL, and do well.
"I need to get stronger, but at least I know now that it's not that far away," he said.
Back in Finland, he faced big expectations. Not only had there been rumors that the Blackhawks might want to keep him in North America, but with injuries on his Jokerit team, Teravainen became the team's first-line center. Also, Jokerit had won just one of their five games without Teravainen.
"It was tough in the beginning, partly because I was jetlagged and tired of the trip to the U.S. Also, I had got used to the higher pace in the NHL so the Finnish league seemed a little slow, but you get used to it and then adapt your own pace to the others. Now the Finnish league feels pretty fast again," he said with a chuckle.
Just as he got used to the Finnish league, it was time for another under-20 tournament with Team Finland, this time in Russia. Finland lost their game against Russia, but beat the Czechs and the Swedes, each in a shootout. Teravainen scored both game-winners, and the team's first line with Teravainen and Artturi Lehkonen (the Canadiens' second-round pick in 2013) and Saku Maenalanen (the Predators' fifth-round pick in 2013) got praise from coach Karri Kivi.
Next up for Teravainen is the IIHF World Junior Championship in Malmo, Sweden. Last year, Finland lost a crucial game to the Czechs and needed a point in their game against Sweden to avoid playing for their spot in the top division. Sweden won the game 7-4, and the Finns ended up in the relegation round, where they beat Germany 8-0 and Slovakia 11-4.
"I'm looking forward to this year's tournament. I know that I'll have a big role on the team and that I'll have to be the one to lead the team and win some games. That's a great opportunity for me," he said.
As is often the case with the best players, Teravainen said the biggest pressure he feels comes from within.
"Of course there are always expectations and outside pressure, but I don't let them get to me. I had expectations of me too, and while the first few months of the season haven't been as good as expected as far as points production is concerned, I'm not worried. I feel good, and I think the goals will come," he said.
"In the World Juniors, we have a great team, again, but it's a short tournament and as we saw last year, anything is possible. You have to be able to play well from the first game, because if you're not ready in the preliminary round, you'll never get to the playoffs. We can beat any team."
A common nickname for all Teuvos in Finland is "Teukka" -- Salama for "flash," it was also the name Teemu Selanne chose as his alias when he drove rally. He, too, was the king of the roads.
How's that for a torch passing on.