Via STL Post Dispatch Blues beat writing soldier Jeremy Rutherford this morning, Vladimir Tarasenko doesn't care for all the nicknames associated with him. I don't blame him. As a player, you'd like to hear your name screamed loud and not some generic sounding, "Get em TANK!"
Fans can't help themselves when it comes to new players and nicknames. It's like getting a pet and having to rummage through the cool names file and see if everyone took the Lord of The Rings cast names yet. If Reggie Dunlop doesn't stick, what do you do? With Cardinals first baseman Matt Adams, it was Big Stick, Big Gravy, Sausage and Doubles to the Gap Hash or the Big Rock sandwich from Slippery. Brian Elliott is called Kid Ells, Moose, Red Bull Crease dancer and something else. Fans need nicknames.
With Tarasenko, it was Frank. Tank. Russian Tank. Tank with a lefthanded Russian. The Next Thing. The Great Russian bowl of faint legged sauce dressing. Okay, I am making some of these up but you get the point.
He doesn't like them. If you need to call him something, keep it with Vladi or even Vova, which is short for Vladimir. I can picture "VOOOOOOVAAAAA" in the stands of Scottrade after he scores, followed by a clip from Red Heat.
Here's the deal. Do whatever he says. When it comes to St. Louis Blues hockey and greatness, Tarasenko is the star. The silver bullet. The One, minus all the weird Keanu Reeves staring and drawn out sentences. When he scores, the collective audience of Blues fans go, "Whooaaaaaa!"
Vladi has a good head on his shoulders and isn't a diva like other gifted hockey players. He says all the right things but does it passionately and consistently. In other words, the opposite of the robotic love child, Tom Brady. When asked what the goal is before last season and this past summer, he brings up the Stanley Cup. He wants to be the guy who finally creates that march down 14th and Clark. He wants to fill the streets of the Lou in blue for a change.
Every year, the kid gets better and better. Writers run out of new ways to say he is awesome. There are only so many ways to describe a player splitting the defense, treating the defensemen like plastic cones and making a goalie look invisible.
He came up and played 38 games in 2012-13, scoring 8 goals and collecting 19 points in the preview. He wasn't even 20 years old yet. Sick, right? Wrong. In 2013-14, he scored 21 goals and grabbed 43 points in 64 games. Last year, he played in 77 games, scoring 37 goals and finishing with 73 points. In those three seasons, he has 16 power play goals.
He also seems to be the only player on the Blues who can put the puck into the back of the net in the postseason, scoring ten goals in 13 games. TEN! Add up the other top six forwards for the past two playoff rounds and they can't find that. Yes, I am bringing up goals a lot but every team needs a player that they other team fears and that is Tarasenko. Calling Vladi filthy is an insult. He does things 95 percent of the players in this league can only do with their thumbs on a PS4 system.
In eight games this season, he already has five goals and nine points. By the way, he is a +51 for his career.
So when the guy wants to do away with the nicknames, do it. Stop the Tank talk. It reminds the young man of his native land and not in a good way. Call him whatever he wants, as long as he keeps acting like a savvy vet and playing like a renegade on a mission. He's a special talent.
If he told me to start putting cream in my coffee, I'd do it. I hate cream or milk in my coffee. If he said that running through drywall was a cool hobby in Russia and I should try it, I'd do it. Some players just get to have their way.
Whatever you say, Mr. Vladimir Tarasenko, owner of 71 goals in only 187 games. You know what else is great. He has 73 assists, proving that greed doesn't exist in his playbook.
What else? He'll be 24 years old on December 13th. He's only going to get better, folks. Prepare yourselves and remember. Will Ferrell is Frank The Tank and purely fictional. Tarasenko is just Vladi and he belongs to the city of St. Louis.