The St. Louis Blues captaincy was one of the easiest decisions the franchise has made in a long time. That does not mean the others cannot be disappointed.
By now, the vast majority of St. Louis Blues fans are aware of the fact Vladimir Tarasenko is/was upset when he found out he would not be the captain of his team. Beyond that fact, there is too much being made of a rather ambiguous statement.
As social media tends to do, we have taken a simple statement and turned it upside down and inside out. It’s much ado about nothing.
The actual quote, according to the Post-Dispatch, was nothing but a little disappointment:
"Of course, when you play for eight years at a club and have been an assistant (alternate captain) for a long time, you count on it. (Jaden) Schwartz and I have been playing for the longest at St. Louis of the guys on the team now. But the management made a decision, I see no reason to discuss it. There were hopes, but how it happened, it happened. I just have to accept it, go out and play. – Vladimir Tarasenko, via Google Translate"
So, what exactly is so wrong about that statement? Nothing mentions Ryan O’Reilly or the leadership he can and will bring.
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He says nothing negative about any of his teammates and, really, nothing against management. You can potentially read into the statement about management making a decision and not wanting to discuss it, but that’s a lot of projecting our own feelings into the situation.
What so few, if any, have taken into consideration is who Tarasenko is and how he is. Everyone is so concerned with this misconstrued idea that he’s mad or has sour grapes, but is that automatically true?
Firstly, the entire line of questioning came because Tarasenko’s agent was actually upset. There is no doubt that the agent was not happy his client was passed over.
But in this interview done with a Russian website, Sport24, there were only two questions regarding the captaincy. One had to do with the agents comments and then the other was the answer provided here.
Tarasenko has grown in confidence over his eight seasons with the Blues, but he is clearly still not comfortable speaking the language or dealing with the media in general. So, given the fact he is shy around media, not the most well-spoken articulist and would rather let his game do the talking in almost all instances, why are we making so much out of one paragraph?
I have no doubts Tarasenko was disappointed. But, almost any of us in the work force, or even a school setting, have encountered situations where we sought advancement and were not chosen. Even if we knew the actual choice was the correct one, that does not diminish our disappointment.
Sadly, time of service does not always count. Sometimes it should, but not necessarily in this case.
O’Reilly is the captain the Blues need. He’s fine talking with the media day in and day out and has no problem discussing accountability. Tarasenko might be a completely different guy in the locker room, but he’s not that guy outwardly and that’s part of a captain’s duties.
That doesn’t mean he should not have wanted to be captain. This is his team and the only franchise he has known in the NHL so far (hopefully ever).
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to lead your teammates and help them win games. Tarasenko’s talent can do that and, as he said in his quotes, he’s focused on just that. O’Reilly got all the off-ice intangibles that Tarasenko does not though.
But, we should not punish Tarasenko for his personality. He’s not the type to tell his agent to shut up and stay out of these matters.
He’s not the type to take the more political route with an answer either. He was asked a question and answered it honestly.
Another thing that nobody has taken into account is the translation factor. This is all in print. Imagine the last time you sent a text that you wrote with a meaning in your head and the recipient took it another way.
Also, we don’t know how Tarasenko said it and not all translations work out perfectly word for word in terms of meaning. That is especially true with languages as different as English and Russian. A phrase can mean something completely different or not register at all. Remember how Tarasenko had no clue what rub off meant?
There’s no reason to worry about it though. I think too much is being made of very little.
Tarasenko was disappointed and that’s fine. As long as his focus remains on getting healthy and productive if and when he can return, then all this will be just sports talk chatter that we can all forget about.