Early morning in the offices of the St. Louis Blues inside the Drinkscotch Center. General manager Doug Armstrong is at his desk, going over some notes, sometimes even mumbling something to himself. He could be rehearsing a few sentences. He takes a deep breath, picks up his cellphone and dials a long number. Meanwhile somewhere in a small Russian apartment, Vladimir Tarasenko is relaxing in his American-style blue jeans, denim shirt and jean jacket. His phone rings.
Great...great. Feel free to call me Army, by the way. Thanks for taking my call.
Sure, Comrade Army. So, what is up in the air? How are you hanging?
Uh, great. Glad to hear you picking up the language. Are you still watching a lot of American television while you wait for the season?
You got it, dude! I love "Full House." It's the story of a great American family. I love the little girl, Michelle. One day she will be a great American actress.
Uh, yes. Agreed. So Vladimir, I thought I would try to talk to you one on one, you know, without your agent. You know, man to man.
Dah, I am man.
Right. I know you have put off flying here to St. Louis because of the potential of the lockout. I can understand where you're coming from. You've got some options there at home in Russia. You're taking a chance leaving your homeland and the league that you've had success in at a young age. But your future is here in the NHL. Your future...is in St. Louis.
Dah. Dah. I agrees. But what about the locks? You're putting locks on the players, correct?
See, that's where we have some options. Have you ever heard of Peoria, Illinois?
Hello? Vladimir? Tank? Hello? Dammit. (dials phone) Hello international operator, I need some help connecting a call to Russia.
This is Army, trying to reach Vladimir Tarasenko.
(few minutes pass)
Uh, Mr. Armystrong, I have a message from Mr. Tank. Quote: "Peoria can blow my jobs." End quote.
Tell him he won't have to go to Peoria. And I'll buy him some real Levi's and not some Moscow black market jeans.
(few minutes pass)