Why is STL Singing “Should Tank say or should he go?”
OK so first things first, I know Vladimir Tarasenko does not like being called Tank. I used it because 1) I figured everyone was tiring of hearing his name. 2) I will know who just comments and never reads the article.
I live 4,400 miles or so away from the Enterprise Center but the bomb that Jeremy Rutherford of the Athletic dropped on Wednesday and has reverberated since, could be heard all the way out here in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.
Thought’s of “Say it Ain’t So, Joe” and the cries of the “Oshie Girl” when T.J. Oshie got traded, came to mind. Tarasenko has been a mainstay in the BlueNote since they drafted him 16th overall in 2010. He has become the most recent player attached to the team’s whipping post.
My cohort and friend Rob Staggenborg wrote for the Bluenote Fan Report that it was time to “Rip the Band-Aid off” and let him go. I say “Hey now, hold on, wait a minute.” Yes I just quoted Sister Act. We need to lListen to his story.” Tarasenko might just have some very valid grievances that need to be addressed. So let address a few of them.
Fans are quick on the trigger with he is “injury prone.” Between 2012-2013 season till 2018-19 season, the St. Louis Blues played 540 games. Tarasenko dressed for 497 of them. Only Alex Pietrangelo, 511, played in more. Think about that, in seven seasons the “Tank” played in 92% of the Blues games.
During this span, he netted 211 goals and 207 assists totaling 418 points. That is second to no one on the Blues. The now-retired Alexander Steen was “just a bit outside” (In my best Bob Uecker Voice from Major League) with 329. Tarasenko is 89 points ahead of second-place during this period; all but one of those points are goals.
Tarasenko’s 497 games, ar tied for 71st place with Drum RoLLLLLLL please … Ryan O’Reilly. Yes, that is right. During the same time span, they have played the same number of games. In case you were wondering Keith Yandle (PHX, ARI, NYR, FLA) led the league with 542 games played.
Yandle scored 341 points. That is a .63 points per game average (PPG%). The Tank? A .77 PPG%. But wait, there is more!! His 418 points are 21st in that period. Only four players above him played in fewer games. All of this was prior to his second shoulder injury, suffered against LA in the Enterprise Center in 2019.
Ryan O’Reilly sits at 29th. The $10 million dollar man everyone wants, Jack Eichel, is 133rd on that list playing from 2015 to 2019, in four seasons. Eichel played in 286 games or 87% of his team’s games and has a respectable .75 PPG%.
Tarasenko is still the better player.
OK, this is the point where you tell me, but what about the last two years? You got me. Or, do you? Yes, Tarasenko has played in just 34 regular-season games in the last two seasons. But, here we come to his second grievance.
In the article by The Athletic’s Jeremy Rutherford, “So why does he want out? According to sources familiar with the situation, he is upset with the team’s handling of his shoulder surgeries in 2018 and 2019 — his first two of three such surgeries, which were both performed by Blues’ physicians – feels there’s no trust left between him and the organization”
This is a big deal in my eyes. His first shoulder surgery was in 2018, during the last game of the season, a loss to the Colorado Avalanche, Surgeons hired by the Blues did not repair ligament damage in his shoulder. This makes a lot of sense.
During the 2019 game against the Los Angeles Kings, just over a year, give or take, after his first trip under the knife, the play he was injured seemed harmless. A break-away, him being held, but nothing that looked too dangerous. Next thing you know he is out for the season.
Same shoulder. It would have had me scratching my head. He goes under the knife again. Same doctors. COVID hit, and he gets extra time to recuperate. He even releases an Instagram post of him doing squats with his wife Yana as the weights.
He also released an Instagram post saying that during the “bubble” something did not feel right but his career is not done. He goes under the knife a third time. He uses a different clinic, and they find the unrepaired ligaments. OK, so he says he has lost some trust here. Yes, I would be upset too.
This leads us to his third grievance. When he came back from his third shoulder operation, which he should have never needed, he finds ice time scarce and his position on the power play changing.
At one point he had a meeting with coaches, and he was told he had to play better. If this were me, I would have flown off the handle. Tarasenko was becoming a good two-way forward. His stickwork was improving. I saw him steal the puck right there in the neutral zone several times. This was a new “Tank” to me.
In the first round of this year’s playoffs, Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon had the puck coming down Tarasenko’s side. Tank has two options, either stay with MacKinnon and force him to pass or go behind the net or stop him with a check.
Tarasenko chooses to do his best Bobby Plager impression and give MacKinnon a hip check. Predictably, the Avalanche’s all-world player went right through Tank and scored an easy goal.
So why would Tarasenko go for the check? That is the style his coach Craig Berube wants them to play. An offensive player you told to get better, is not going to succeed being placed on defense against one of the top three players in the league this year. Then as a coach, you scold him for missing the check.
Yes, I can see Tarasenko’s gripes here. Now being honest I am a card-carrying member of the Tarasenk-show Fan Club. So, while I may be a bit biased, I think there is a reasonable and logical way out of this mess.
What do you mean by a way out of this mess? They both have divorce lawyers. This is a foregone conclusion. While you may be right and it is, what if?
What If the Blues are the ones who leaked that he requested a trade, what if they knew by, oh I don’t know, looking at social media the last few days and seeing all the Tarasenko negative press, used it to their advantage? HMM something to think about.
This mess is worst for the player than it is for the team. But it could backfire.
If I were Tarasenko’s agent, I would say, “We took a big hit there, but we are not dead in the water or sinking. Let us get the damage control parties out and let’s get back in the fight.” Sorry I just love Naval Terminology.
“Ok,” you say how do we do that. Good question. First, let realize we will not get what we want, and right now our camp looks bad. Just listen to the radio call-in shows.
Next, we go to St. Louis and we ask for a face-to-face meeting with all involved parties. Ownership, the GM, the coaching staff, and the medical staff. We let it all out. Behind closed doors and off the record.
Then we tell the Owner Tom Stillman, I am going to show you I am that player I have always been. You Give me this season and after you can release me or trade me if you still want to and I decide I would like to go elsewhere.
Bet you are scratching your head again. This puts the ball in the front office’s court. If they decide that no we are not going to play ball, you leak it. Make the team look bad, not the player.
I think Tarasenko showed us all in Game 4 and at the worlds that he has what it takes. That his shoulder is fine, and he has that fire in his belly. He wants that second cup, and this team still has an open window.
I still believe in him. I still think he could score 40 goals in a season. I would rather he scores them for us.
I wrote I thought last season was Berube’s greatest test? I even asked if he might be a bit under the gun? Now is the coaches chance to right the ship and be the coach everyone in the fan base thinks he is.
Berube Needs to adjust to the players he has and put them in the best position. Mike Hoffman is a prime example of that. They rarely used him in the correct way all season. Hoffman who I feel is an excellent addition to this team and gives them a scoring winger, will most likely sign elsewhere.
That is a shame. It should also be a warning flag. Player after Player has said how wonderful the city and the fans are. This team has a solid reputation. Well, it did have.
The “Days of Our Lives” drama and Blues fans singing the Clash song “Should I say or Should I go” is hurting this team’s chances of getting cup Number Two!!!!!
Armstrong, Berube and Tarasenko, get in a room and hammer this out!!!!
Because Tarasenko in a Bluenote is the best thing for all parties involved.
Till Next Time Hockey Fans.