Vladimir Tarasenko left the NHL bubble early for a shoulder re-evaluation, and never returned.
Tarasenko was injured back in October in a game against the Los Angeles Kings, and had to have a shoulder surgery that put him out of the lineup for five months. Fans were looking forward to his playoff return even before the pandemic; with the extra recovery time, they could be forgiven for assuming that Tarasenko would be a differencemaker in the playoffs.
He played gingerly during the round-robin, which turned into him being a non-factor to begin the series against Vancouver. He sat out game two and game three then returned to St. Louis to have his shoulder re-evaluated.
That new evaluation came with a familiar timetable for return: five months. Doug Armstrong, in comments to the press, discussed what went wrong:
“He was very limited (when he returned),” Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong said. “He had shoulder surgery obviously at the start of the season. He rehabbed, he came back, we had to do another MRI (because) he wasn’t feeling good. That surgery [in October] didn’t take the way that we had hoped. It wasn’t successful. He’s going to go back in and have more surgery next week, and it’s serious in the sense that he won’t be with us and he won’t be re-evaluated until five months after the date of the surgery.”
That puts a return at the end of December or the beginning of January, right around the assumed beginning of the next season. Don’t get carried away with plans to drive up to see him play in the Winter Classic yet, folks:
“It’s not a positive that we’re going through right now,” Armstrong added. “We just know he prepares and trains hard and needs to get back and play well for us. It’s a concern in the sense that he’s going to have three surgeries.”
That’s a pretty telling statement from Armstrong. He didn’t come out and say that he’s concerned, but it’s clear that he is. After all, he - and the fans - remember Patrik Berglund. Yes, there’s a difference in caliber and style of player there, but when it comes to shoulder rehab, the outcome may be similar. Let’s hope it doesn’t get to that point.