Introducing The Madness
Unless you've been living under a cave for the last week or so . . . the Blues season ended last Wednesday. The season itself was . . . well, it had its' moments. The playoff run was, by all accounts, a success and quite fun. The locker clean-out day was always going to be anticlimactic, right?
Most of the journalistic prose from the annual event--which, admittedly, fell a lot later than we're used to in these parts--was reserved for niceties and 'atta boys for guys like David Backes and Troy Brouwer, guys who may be off to greener pastures this offseason but had great success this playoff year.
But then . . .
. . . there was this fetid piece of garbage from St. Louis Post-Dispatch online sports columnist Ben Frederickson regarding Vladimir Tarasenko, who had a rough series against the Sharks but otherwise had a successful playoff run (I mean, unless, 15 points in 20 games is . . . bad?).
I put this link in my weekly links yesterday and instructed people not to click on it. You still shouldn't. Instead, I'm going to recap it in chunks and give my perspective on how stupid this damn thing is . . . Fire Joe Morgan-style!
Let us begin, eh?
The Main Course
During a locker clean-out that marked the transition from this season to next, Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko missed a chance to take out the trash.
SEE YOU GUYS BECAUSE HE WAS BAD IN THE LAST SERoh fucking whatever, WE KNOW.
The $60 million man declined to participate in the final media availability of the season on Saturday. The no-show was harder to explain than Tarasenko's disappearance in 17 of the Western Conference final's 18 periods. This time there wasn't San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to blame.
By my estimates, every time Tarasenko crossed the offensive blue line with the puck in the Western Conference Final, he did so with about three Sharks players on his ass immediately. It's cute to single out one defenseman, but really, you could have put ANY of 20 names in here and you'd have a point. Vlasic is just one dude, y'know?
Tarasenko was present at the Scottrade Center. You just won't find any comments from No. 91. He told the team he wasn't doing interviews. That's a problem.
No, that's not at all a problem . . . that's his prerogative. Some people don't like to talk to people when they clean out their office.
A quick spin through the coverage provided by Post-Dispatch scribes Jeremy Rutherford and Tom Timmermann shows some of the topics Tarasenko's teammates faced.
It wasn't all cupcakes and rainbows.
Kevin Shattenkirk once again addressed chatter that he could be traded.
Troy Brouwer discussed an offseason that could send him to another team.
David Backes, the captain, reflected on the fact that this might have been his final season as a Blue.
Yet Tarasenko took a pass.
If any one of those guys you mentioned doesn't face the media, do they get the same treatment you're giving Tarasenko? They're North Americans and they're all thought of as "good in the room", so I somehow doubt it.
Also, I was stunned the "took a pass" comment wasn't followed with "he shot wide with it". Would've really fit the motif here.
Anyway . . . let's carry on, shall we?
Whether Backes stays or goes, Tarasenko's influence on this club is about to grow. The 24-year-old winger scored 40 regular-season goals and led his team in postseason goals (nine) despite his struggles against the Sharks. His actions Saturday suggested his hockey skills surpass his leadership capabilities.
Tarasenko's teammates faced the music. But he skated. The face of the team refused to be part of its voice.
Here, he makes a good point, which he followed up with a terrible conclusion. Hey, Tarasenko actually had a really good playoff run! But then he skated away! Stupid guy with all his money, not wanting to answer questions! How irresponsible!
Sometimes media members inflate the importance of their prying. Our profession tends to bristle when a subject says, 'No thanks.' This isn't that.
This isn't that, eh? Then why write this piece of shit?
Tarasenko's comments — if they came — would have been his final message to Blues fans before the team goes off the grid for months. People deserved to hear from the star who struggled late.
He has social media, Ben. I know for sure he has a Twitter account and an Instagram account, because I follow them both. He can tell us there. All summer long, actually, if he wants to. This isn't fucking 1988, last I checked. You need him. He doesn't need you, and we don't need you either.
Tarasenko's two goals against the Sharks came in the third period of Game 6, after the Sharks grabbed a four-goal lead. More than anything, the late flurry made you wonder how different the series might have been if Tarasenko had broken through earlier. Everything from Tarasenko's ice time, to his physical shape, to his willingness to push through adversity became popular talking points.
"And here I am, talking about these points as if the media weren't the ones bringing up these talking points." And you wonder why he wouldn't take the opportunity to talk about these things with you folks? How dumb do you think we are, Ben?
He could have told the doubters why they were wrong. He could have told those who defended him why things will be different next postseason. The new father could have explained what it was like, balancing the biggest moment of his personal life — he welcomed a son into the world before Game 2 — with the biggest moment of his professional career.
At least tell them something.
In my mind, I replaced this part with "He could have told the doubters why they were wrong. He could have told how those who defended the earth being round will be thought of differently next year at about this time. The new Paganist could have explained what it was like, balancing thoughts of organized religion with thoughts of having no religion at all and being told science was a crock of shit . . . and balancing all that with the biggest moment of his professional career." It basically would have had the same effect.
HE COULD HAVE TOLD US HE LIKED DEAD PUPPIES OR A NUMBER OF OTHER TERRIBLE FUCKING THINGS, BEN. THEN HOW WOULD YOU FEEL?!
More importantly, Tarasenko's no comment closed the book on his season without addressing the elephant in the dressing room.
That wasn't an elephant, Ben. That was a human Goddamn being with a name . . . Jori Lehtera, the center getting paid $4.7MM next year who has only shown himself to be an effective NHL player when Vladimir Tarasenko is on his right wing.
Nevermind that it was Paul Stastny, an actual 1C with hands like no one's business, who was signed to be Tarasenko's center . . . a fact apparently told to everyone except Ken Hitchcock.
We should be amazed Tarasenko is able to do so well with basically a third-line center. Instead, we're just going to blast him in the press for being terrible for most of six games and not talking about it. You're a fucking treat, aren't you?
But here's the kicker . . .
There is growing speculation of friction between Tarasenko and the Blues. Is there a rift between the star and his club?
Holy hell. You remember that Jump To Conclusions Mat created by Tom Smykowski in Office Space? This conclusion COULDN'T EVEN FIT ON SMYKOWSKI'S FUCKING BOARD.
So you mean to tell me that because he didn't say anything to the media during locker clean-out day, he might have unaddressed problems with the team? If he does . . . WHO FUCKING CARES?! He's got about three or four months to ponder those things this offseason.
Furthermore, if he DID have unaddressed problems with the team . . . WHAT MAKES YOU BELIEVE HE WOULD ADDRESS THEM WITH YOU PEOPLE before he skitters off to Russia with his wife and newborn son? Fuck that.
This is not even mentioning where this "growing speculation" comes from, aside from a few verbal spats between Tarasenko and Hitchcock during games. DURING HOCKEY GAMES IN WHICH PEOPLE ARE TRYING TO WIN AND HAVE DIFFERENT IDEAS AS TO HOW TO DO SO. LIKE THAT NEVER FUCKING HAPPENS.
If I'm a member of that front office, I sure would have liked a player under contract until 2023 to squash such a story on Saturday.
Or, they know there's no story and that you're just digging up shit for fun. Shall we get you a sandbox, Mr. Frederickson? It appears you may need one to practice some hole-digging.
We'll hear from Blues general manager Doug Armstrong and coach Ken Hitchcock on Tuesday morning.
Apparently everyone but Tarasenko has to talk.
Jay Bouwmeester. Paul Stastny. Ryan Reaves. Jake Allen. Robert Bortuzzo. Magnus Paajarvi. Carl Gunnarsson. Jori Lehtera. Patrik Berglund. Alexander Steen. Jaden Schwartz. None of these guys (and maybe there were more) were mentioned in the locker clean-out-day quotables. Maybe some of them talked, but I'd be willing to bet not all of them did.
But it's just Tarasenko that didn't have to talk. Suuuuuuure.
I had decently high hopes for Post-Dispatch columnists. This was especially true after Bernie Miklasz left for radio shortly after writing a terrible column about the departed T.J. Oshie. He was replaced by Frederickson and Benjamin Hochman . . . then, there was a quick infusion of new blood brought about by the inclusion of Jose de Jesus Ortiz, coming shortly after the untimely passing of Joe Strauss.
Apparently, as we can see above, those hopes were completely unfounded. It's rather apparent we're stuck with the same old garbage in the form of new voices. Which is rather sad, but exactly what we have all gotten used to at this point.
It is not a columnist's job to dig up something that isn't readily present.
Apparently, though, everyone but Ben Frederickson has to live up to that standard.