The St. Louis Blues superstar forward is one of the best in the game. He might get recognized for that this summer. Might is the key word.
The St. Louis Blues figured they were going to have a pretty special player when they drafted Vladimir Tarasenko. He might have some hardware coming in the summer to prove it.
How much they knew about it is up in the air since they drafted Jaden Schwartz above Tarasenko and only gained the pick via a trade. Schwartz is a great player, but not potentially elite as Tarasenko is.
If things swing a different way, maybe Tarasenko is not even on the Blues. Horrifying to think about, but it was a possibility. Drafts aren’t exactly the Blues forte as they have a history of passing up on some very good players.
Nevertheless, Tarasenko is on the Blues and thank goodness for it. You can tell he is still trying to figure out his place on the team in terms of being a superstar but not having the stereotypical personality of one. Still, he has really started to put his stamp on this team and on the league.
Tarasenko finished the 2016-17 season fourth in goals (39) and 10th in the NHL in points (75). He might never lead the league in any of those categories, but the guy is almost a perfect fit for St. Louis.
He is very humble despite his great talents. He cares as much or more about his teammates and winning than he does personal accolades.
The guy wants to win. He wants to win a Stanley Cup in St. Louis.
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For a guy from a different country to adopt our city as his home and a fanbase as his family is pretty special. Some foreign players expect the whole United States to be Los Angeles or New York. Tarasenko’s personality fits like a puzzle piece in St. Louis.
Now that he is a finalist for the Lady Byng award, it seems like a perfect fit for some personal hardware.
According to Wikipedia and the NHL, the trophy is named in honor of Marie Evelyn Moreton (Lady Byng), wife of Viscount Byng of Vimy. He was a Vimy Ridge war hero who became Governor General of Canada from 1921-1926. Lady Byng was an avid hockey fan and decided to donate the trophy to the NHL in 1925.
Based on Tarasenko’s on-ice play, he is deserving enough. Beyond just the point totals, he only accumulated 12 total penalty minutes during the entire season, having played every single game.
Even more important this season was Tarasenko’s off-ice accomplishments. While the award is mainly based on how you hold yourself in the rink, Tarasenko’s recent friendship should be taken into account.
The man known as Vlady befriended a young cancer patient named Arianna Dougan. He then became the highest bidder during the Blues’ Casino Night on a package that would allow Ari and her mother to travel with the team on a road trip in March.
Tarasenko scored a goal for her on that road trip and the entire team, plus some Cardinals figuratively adopted the young girl. While she had to return to the hospital during the Blues first round, the joy Tarasenko and the Blues gave her was a huge boost to her recovery.
There are stories like that all over the NHL, but that kind of generosity and selfless thinking should be taken into account for this kind of award.
Gaudreau and Granlund are very good hockey players. They have probably both done great things off the ice too.
However, this award seems like it should belong to our own. Only three St. Louis Blues have ever won it. Pavol Demitra in 1999-00, Brett Hull in 1989-90 and Phil Goyette in 1969-70.
Tarasenko, himself, is only concerned with winning a Cup and that is how it should be. Likely he would be embarrassed and uncomfortable on stage if he did win the Lady Byng. Count this city as a huge vote for him in this personal award though. He’s basically the trophy’s description personified.