The St. Louis Blues are off to their best start in franchise history, going 5-0 in their first five games. While definitely not the only reason, a big part of that hot beginning is the stellar play of Vladimir Tarasenko.
Tarasenko’s good start flies in the face of all those that proclaimed he was finished and washed up. Their overconfidence that his shoulder was like shredded tissue paper came too soon and now those people look like fools.
While the season is still very young, Tarasenko has looked like the man we always believed would/could score 40 or more goals. He has three goals and six points in five games.
If Tarasenko kept that pace up the entire season, he would end up with 49 goals. It cannot be denied that Tarasenko is a notoriously streaky player and there is no guarantee he can or will put up career numbers.
Even so, Tarasenko has shoved it back in the faces of his naysayers. It’s been a giant middle finger to all those that said he needed to be traded for a bag of pucks.
The few fans that stuck by Tarasenko’s side through all the offseason turmoil have been rewarded for their faith. Those that were fair minded and gave him a chance, joined in to repeatedly chant “Vladi” when Tarasenko scored two fantastic goals against the Los Angeles Kings on October 25.
You would think that the focus would be on the player and his early-season accomplishments. However, as proof that some people would rather be right than accept anything else, the talk of trades has not gone away.
While sitting in the crowd during that game against the Kings, a pair of friends behind me were having a discussion about the impending trade. The one man’s contention was Tarasenko was only playing so well because he wanted to improve his stock with other teams.
He continued that the Blues needed to make that deal now while the iron was hot. So, in a matter of two weeks, the talk went from he had to be traded because he was a bad teammate, injured and washed up to he has to be traded because his value is sky high.
For the love of all that is holy, can we please drop that nonsense? Tarasenko is not going anywhere and Doug Armstrong has played this situation perfectly.
He knew that Tarasenko would play to type as long as he was healthy. This would benefit the Blues.
Armstrong knows that Tarasenko playing well will make the team potential Stanley Cup champions. You don’t give up on that early or in the middle of a season.
Even if Tarasenko dropped off the pace, but managed to score 30 goals or more, why in the world would the team trade him? A top-four defenseman would be valuable, but you’re not going to replace 30 goals.
Jordan Kyrou is showing he is the real deal and could be a 30-plus goal scorer himself. Why not have two of those?
Jake Neighbours looks more and more like he is going to stay because he can help the Blues win. Right now, he fits in with the fourth line. Don’t force him to go from a role player to a legitimate scoring threat when that’s not the progression path he’s on yet.
It simply makes no sense to trade him now and, perhaps, ever.
From the perspective of one of the few people on this side of the fence, even Jeremy Rutherford’s take is continually frustrating. Rutherford has come out and said it now seems unlikely that Tarasenko would be traded in season, unless some team opened up the Fort Knox of trades.
Conversely, Rutherford maintains that Tarasenko still desires to be dealt in the offseason. While there is no reason to believe Rutherford should not trust his source, there is also no reason to think continued winning by the Blues and continued success for Tarasenko would not change his mind.
Why does everything have to be so definitive? Why is it so black and white when everything in sports (and in life) is really shades of gray?
I contend that Tarasenko is staying for all of 2021-22 and the playoffs. I also believe that if the Blues won another Cup, or even went on a long playoff run, that Tarasenko could be persuaded to remain with the team for his final contract year and maybe even longer. Winning, and a potential extension, can cure a lot.
We have already proven that winning and on-ice success can change the minds of many fans. Prior to the first game of the season, who would have imagined the Enterprise Center ever chanting Tarasenko’s name over and over? It seemed more likely they would boo him when his name was announced than anything, at the time.
A few goals and a handful of wins later, Tarasenko is once again the darling of St. Louis.
Let’s stop the trade talk – I’m looking directly at you Brandon Kiley, Alex Ferrario and Jamie Rivers. I know it makes for hot take sports radio, but it just sounds desperate to be right after a summer of spouting how horrible Tarasenko was.
BK and Ferrario continue to speak of this situation like it’s a foregone conclusion Tarasenko gets traded soon. Rivs keeps bringing up deals that have less than a 0% chance of happening, like it’s still on his wish list. Stop.
The guy was upset at how a surgery was handled and got bad advice from someone in his camp. The fact remains that players ask for trades on half the teams in the league, but it’s not reported so fans don’t throw a fit.
Acknowledge Tarasenko’s right to be upset if he felt his health was at risk. He never said anything bad about the fans or his teammates, so there is still no clear reason why so many were upset in the first place.
Stop the trade nonsense now. Enjoy the season and what Tarasenko has to offer. We can let next summer take care of itself.