Vladimir Tarasenko is the rookie, Russian sensation that St. Louis Blues fans have been waiting for over the past four years. Now that Tarasenko is finally in St. Louis, fans are anxious to learn as much as they can about the young winger. Recently I caught up with Alexei Dementiev, the Russian agent for Tarasenko and was lucky enough to get him to answer a few questions for us concerning the possible Calder winning forward.
Hodschayan: When did you first become the agent for Vladimir Tarasenko?
Dementiev: I coached the Red Army team made up of players born in 1991 and we made the Russian Final Pool. One of our opponents was the team from Novosibirsk where Vladimir played. To be ready for the tournament I was learning who was the best player for our opponent teams and how to play against them. So I was told that Vladimir is a very good and dangerous player. So – personally, I paid attention to this guy. Later on in 2008 when I became an agent I gave him a call, spoke to his father and after a few little steps we came to an agreement to work together. Back in 2008 there some people didn’t believe he would be player at all, not to mention a top player. But having scouting experience and knowing Vladimir’s personality combined with his family I knew he would get to the top! There were many questions about his size but his heart was always huge and since the first time we met I had the feeling – he is real captain for any team!
Hodschayan: What was your reaction when Tarasenko was drafted by the St. Louis Blues. Did Tarasenko know right away that he wanted to play in the NHL?
Dementiev: Yes, he wanted play in the NHL, it was always his dream. I was never told but assume it was something that he thought he should do for his family. His grandfather was an athlete; his father was a very good hockey player and Olympic National team player. Each of them made a step towards better recognition “of the last name” that is why I had no doubt he will do his best to play very well in the NHL, because his family needs this record too! The St. Louis Blues are a very good organization and I knew many people from there a long time before he was drafted ( I worked as a scout for several NHL teams, 18 years total). My reaction was that I was happy for Vladimir. They never mentioned the “Russian factor” which I personally respect a lot, they just asked what is the best case scenario of Vladimir’s coming to North America and we said – two years after the draft. They were patient and we kept our word.
Hodschayan: Tarasenko has said that when growing up he was a fan of the Detroit Red Wings. Was there a team that he was hoping to be drafted by instead of the Blues?
Dementiev: Well, you will have a hard time finding someone in Russian hockey who doesn’t like the Red Wings. It is obvious - many super Russian players played there and many guys saw stable management who are good to Russians in general. The Blues have made some revolutions in the minds of Russian people having Vladimir in the line up – I can see, more people started to cheer for Blues and I hope with time, in several years, another young rising hockey star will say that he is fan of the Blues!
Hodschayan: What are your impressions of Tarasenko’s play in the NHL? Do you think that he is doing as well as you expected?
Dementiev: I am impressed with his play. I came for his first game and was very proud, sitting in the Alumni box with former Blues Mike Liut when Vladimir scored two goals. Amazing but we are pro and don’t pay attention to the results in the middle – it is a long way to have a good hockey career. That is why we are patient.
Hodschayan: Do you know what Tarasenko’s long term goals are? Does he plan on staying with the St. Louis Blues throughout his career?
Dementiev: His goal is to win anything that is possible, and any trophy possible; The Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold, everything. About plans to stay with the Blues…. I am sure every player would like to stay with only one organization and Vladimir is no exception, but it is a very tough business and you never know what might happen in the long run during his NHL career. Players always have to be ready for any change of their plans.
Hodschayan: Are there any other names we should be watching for that are on their way to the NHL?
Dementiev: I think I have some clients with good NHL potential. Alexandr Khokhlachev signed by the Boston Bruins. Andrei Pedan is a New York Islanders draftee. Alexander Delnov is a Florida Panthers prospect. Also, Alexei Marchenko for the Detroit Red Wings.
I want to say thank you once again to Alexei Dementiev for giving me the opportunity to ask him these few questions. Stay tuned for more about Vladimir Tarasenko and the St. Louis Blues.
LET’S GO BLUES!