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“Vladi” Tarasenko request trade.

I realize before even put pen to paper (is that even a thing anymore?) OK, before I violently beat the crap out of my keyboard, I fully realize that 50 percent of the population will hate me already.

And I’m OK with that.

What I am NOT OK with is the St. Louis Blues’ long, even torturous slow dance they’ve got going with their once mega-star Vladimir Tarasenko. For the better part of a year, he’s been the subject of trade rumors and his name – once-coveted at the Enterprise Center – doesn’t shine under the Gateway Arch as bright as it once did. I mean this guy was huge – like the cover of NHL video games huge.

He was cute, cuddly, our little Russian bear with his broken smile and broken English winning the hearts of Beer Town USA. they have also mentioned his name among intriguing expansion draft possibilities as his hefty contract has suddenly become onerous to General Manager Doug Armstrong.

So .. what to do with Vladimir Tarasenko?

I say it is time to just rip the bandage off, release the player, find a comfortable place for him to be – a place where he can reassert himself as one of the top Russian stars of the era. It won’t happen here in St. Louis. It once did, and man it was spectacular, but now? His name brings up grumbles and snide comments about his disappearing act in the playoffs.

Ironically, in the Game 4 defeat against the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of this year’s playoffs, he showed up and scored two goals. Although on the final score sheet the goals would seem inconsequential, they were big and showed signs that this beaten warhorse had maybe one more run in him.

Interestingly enough, as Guy Bensing of The BlueNote Fan Report was quick to share, Tarasenko left the team following the loss to play – and star in – international play.

As tough as it is to admit, St. Louis can be a career killer – or at least – a career burp. Just ask Brian Elliott, Jake Allen, David Backes, and so many other stars who came here only to disappear before fans’ very eyes.

How this affects Tarasenko is in his level of confidence. I think he has a shaky relationship with Coach Craig Berube, who basically called him out for not going to the net and not being a consistent net-front presence. This is hardly the game we know Tarasenko for. He is a sniper, a playmaker, a guy who has and will continue to hit that 40-goal plateau. He won’t do it at 14th and Clark.

Using Vladimir Tarasenko as a trade piece makes sense, however, knowing the Blues would likely eat a portion of his contract. The Blues need a left-winger and size on the defensive side – two areas that are simply NOT Tarasenko’s game. Even getting some draft picks would be better than watching this guy suffer a slow death at the hands of the St. Louis media.

If you were No. 91, would you want to stay here? You haven’t exactly been made a part of the chamber of commerce in this town, and he certainly does not live an Instagram lifestyle. His children, pictured after he helped the Blues win their first-ever Stanley Cup, were just cute as a button. This Russian guy sure was living the American dream here in St. Louis.


Tarasenko and Family

Then injury struck, and the criticism became nastier and more unforgiving. Today, pretty much each week the topic of Tarasenko’s proposed exit hits the sports airwaves in St. Louis. Fans just love to hate this guy. But when he scores an important goal, fans and the club want to promote the hell out of him.

Personally, I think the guy just wants to play hockey.

One of the teams I suspect would have interest, as I’ve tweeted, was the New York Rangers. Not to get too deep into the tea leaves here, but Tarasenko got a new agent, the same agent he shares with fellow Russian Artemi Panarin – the Bread Man. They say the two to be close, with Vladimir providing a mentor-mentee relationship to young Panarin. It was Panarin, many will remember, who was in the middle of the Tom Wilson/NHL Player Safety fiasco last winter.

It was Panarin who was slammed to the ground by Wilson. The hit set off the internet. But if Tarasenko “just wants to play hockey” then the bright light of Broadway may not be any kind of place for this guy to be. The Los Angeles Kings are also lurking this off-season, and expect to make some big moves to re-establish their franchise as a perennial Cup contender. His scoring and leadership would be interesting on a team like that.

The fact is, we have not given him a chance to shine. We brought in Mike Hoffman who is basically the same kind of player (ish) and that experiment got FUBAR real quick for the Blues. Tarasenko was rushed back too soon, or at the very least, perhaps he was still creaky after a nagging shoulder injury that required surgery.

The divorce is on the horizon. Thie article, released by Rutherford is this mistress pictures found on the phone. Rutherford would not release something like this without doing due diligence and having both parties ok with it being released. One thing that could happen is a bit of couples counseling. No matter how disgruntled this star may be, he is not getting traded for a bag of pucks.

Sell while the value is high, or in the case of Tarasenko, sell while you can still salvage some decent return. If you can get a decent return.

Doug Armstrong owes that to the fans, and he owes it to Vladimir Tarasenko.

Thanks for reading!

Rob Staggenborg

A St. Louis Blues blogger, NHL podcaster, and writer, and contributor for the STL Fan Report.



Twitter @realBrockBanne1