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Zawaski: Perceived Lack Of Work Ethic Played A Role In Teuvo Teravainen's Exit From Blackhawks

By Jay Zawaski--

(CBS) Last week's surprising exit of promising young forward Teuvo Teravainen from Chicago in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes was in part spurred by some in the Blackhawks organization perceiving Teravainen's work ethic to be lacking, 670 The Score has learned.

Several high-profile teammates and staffers voiced their concern to the organization's brain trust that Teravainen didn't display the day-to-day commitment needed to take the next step in his career, sources said. While it wasn't the main reason for the trade that allowed the Blackhawks much-needed cap relief by unloading Bryan Bickell's $4-million salary, it made it easier for the team to part with the skilled 21-year-old Teravainen. One move that rubbed some Blackhawks the wrong way was Teravainen's decision to spend this summer in his native Helsinki, Finland, instead of remaining in Chicago to work out under the watchful eyes of the team's training staff, sources said.

Zawaski: Parting with the talented Teravainen is puzzling

While you can debate the degree of this reality, it's the perception that mattered in this case. And looking back, there had been indicators that the Blackhawks were less than thrilled with Teravainen's approach. Former teammate Kimmo Timonen hinted at this in early June 2015, as the Blackhawks were amid a playoff run that would culminate in a Stanley Cup championship.

"He's got a long way to go," Timonen told The Canadian Press of Teravainen. "He's a skinny guy, so he's got to start lifting weights and doing that. ... I told him, 'This summer, you've got to make sure you work out.

"Golf is not a workout.'"

Timonen expanded on his thoughts in that interview as well.

"He can be a superstar in this league," Timonen said back then. "But it's still in the process that he's got to realize, 'OK, I've got to make sure summer I work out every day, and I've got to watch these guys how they prepare for the games like (Jonathan) Toews and (Patrick) Kane and (Duncan) Keith and these guys.'"

After the Blackhawks were eliminated by the Blues in a seven-game first-round series in April, coach Joel Quenneville was blunt in his assessment of Teravainen, who had 35 points (13 goals, 22 assists) in 78 games in 2015-'16. Teravainen has top-six forward potential, but he never settled into such a role on a regular basis in Chicago.

"Consistency is probably the one area where we're looking for him," Quenneville said. "We think that his attributes and being able to play and versatility in all three areas up front can help us and can help him get more ice time.

"Taking advantage of that (opportunity to be a top-six forward) was in place, and I don't think that his, you know, whether it's moving up in the lineup is something that should've been in place, and at the end of the year it probably didn't advance to the point where he should be playing, to the top (lines)."

Teravainen and Bickell were traded to Carolina last week for a second-round pick in this year's draft and a third-rounder in 2017.

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