Vladimir Tarasenko recently had an interview with Russia’s Sport 24. The interview was originally supposed to touch on the exciting 2011 World Junior Championship, where Tarasenko had a theatric tourney to help lead the Russians to their fourth WJC Gold medal. But a lot more ended up discussed in the interview. In fact, it gave a very bright light into his own thoughts.
Things We Learned from Tarasenko’s Sit Down
An Update on the Shoulder
The topic that was touched on first was, obviously, Tarasenko’s grueling history of shoulder injuries. He recently underwent his third shoulder surgery and missed nearly the entirety of the 2019-20 season with isssues.
Well, in the interview, he explains that there was a bit more to it than that. At almost the exact same time as Tarasenko got hurt, his grandfather passed away. This was... incredibly difficult on Tarasenko. He goes on in extreme detail about how powerful of a figure his grandpa was in his life, citing the great personality and confidence he had. Tarasenko then says that, because of his surgery, he wasn’t able to attend his grandfather’s funeral. That’s... tough. And it really weighed on Tarasenko. He was asked if this was the hardest season of his career because of the injury and death in the family. The answer was an easy yes. Tarasenko said:
“We can say that yes. These two events were superimposed on each other. My grandpa was ill for a long time. I understood that everything is serious... Of course, this is the most difficult time in my life.”
But there is a silver lining. Tarasenko said that his recovery is going fully to plan. That’s great news! He is set to be re-evaluated in the next month-or-so and, if recovery is going to plan, we should see him suit back up in the Blue Note sooner rather than later. But it doesn’t sound like he’ll be available for the start of the season. He told Sport 24 that he is in St. Louis and goes to the team facilities every day for workouts, some focused solely on recovering his shoulder. But he hasn’t gotten back on the ice yet. That could mean a full recovery is still a ways off; at least, past the start of the season that is.
But he is determined to not let that keep him down. The heart of the interview revolved around the fact that Tarasenko is destined to return to the elite-caliber of play he’s always shown off. He noted multiple times that many people are doubting his ability to fully recover but that is exactly his goal.
In regards to future injury-worries, though, Tarasenko sounded confident. He said that the doctors have properly found, and addressed, the issue that was plaguing his shoulder. All parties seem confident that things will be alleviated moving forward. His surgery from October of 2019 didn’t properly fix everything up, hence the issues and the need for another, but he should be on the home-stretch now.
He also said that the persistence issues have never phased him. There were aggressive rumors circulating around Russia that Tarasenko would be forced to retire because of this injury. That... wasn’t the case. In fact, the rumors upset Tarasenko quite a lot. So he made sure to emphatically emphasize that these rumors are false and that he never considered retirement. In fact, all he wants to do is focus on being bigger-and-better as soon as he can.
That’s great, great news for Blues fans. It’s been a tough relationship with Tarasenko recently. But soon, we’ll have our dazzling Russian back.
Alrighty... now we get into the drama. There has been a lot of heat going around about Tarasenko being upset about not getting the captaincy. His agent was very vocal about it as well. I don’t want to cheat you, as the reader, so here is the full, unedited quote, from Tarasenko himself, on the matter.
“Of course, when you play 8 years and are a long time assistant, then you can be disappointed. We’ve played with Schwartz on STL longer than anybody on the team. But upper management reached the decision and I dont see a point in arguing it. I had hope but it is what it is. Only thing left is to take it and go out and play”
When asked about his agent’s harsh comments, this is what Tarasenko said:
“I repeat, I had hopes. I think its normal to appoint someone a leader after 8 years on a team. But everyone has their own opinion, Alexei said that and he has his right. This is probably just the time for intrigue. Personally I’m focused on getting back from injury. I have to start showing my hockey and get better. Because many people that are talking say that ‘Tarasenko will never play the same’. I have a lot of reasons to prove people wrong.”
So, yeah, he isn’t thrilled. And why would he be? He has been the consistent star forward on the Blues, scoring goals at a rate comparable to the league’s best. He has also served as a captain before, leading the aforementioned 2011 Gold-winning Russian World Juniors squad. There’s obviously a hint of uneasiness. But Tarasenko is a professional above all else. He isn’t going to let this impact his play, his morale in the locker room, or his interactions with his teammates. That much is painfully obvious.
He wants to use this as another driving factor to push him to reach greatness.
So there’s no reason fans should worry, or even really consider this at all. Tarasenko is a star, a professional, and bleeds blue.
Tarasenko also commented on Alex Pietrangelo’s tough departure from St. Louis. He said that Pietrangelo leaving was very hard, especially since Steen retired on top of it. But Tarasenko also said that it wasn’t his business to talk about it. He reiterated that this was management’s decision and he, as a player, shouldn’t discuss it.
There’s that professionalism I mentioned.
Tarasenko also light-heartedly touched on playing on a line with Brayden Schenn, who was the MVP of the 2011 World Juniors where the two butted heads a lot.
The interviewer then asked Tarasenko about a $3,000 donation he made to a young hockey player who had suffered a bad injury. Tarasenko said that, yes, he had made the donation, but he had hoped it would stay private. He says he and his wife always feel like they should make sure to give when there is a need but they do it privately by rule because they don’t want to do it for the “PR”, they just want to do all they can to help those who need it.
The interview closed with some questions about Tarasenko’s goal of playing for Team Russia one day. He said it’s a dream for him to play at the Olympics with his old Russian squad, including Artemi Panarin, Dmitry Orlov, Nikita Zaitsev, Anton Burdasov, and Evgeny Kuznetsov (who is currently suspended from Olympic play). Tarasenko added that he’d want the group to be lead by Valeri Bragin.
It’d be great if he could reunite with this great cast. They’re incredibly close-knit, with Tarasenko even being the godfather of both Orlov and Burdasov’s children.
It was, in all, a very heart-felt interview where Tarasenko opened up quite a bit. These types of interviews don’t come along often and to see one with so much information is a gold mine for Blues fans looking for updates on the team’s star forward. Hopefully he’ll be back soon — and by the sounds of it, he’s going to be better than ever. Get ready St. Louis.