Without a doubt, Vladimir Tarasenko is one of the most beloved and profound athletes in the city of St. Louis and has been for quite some time. The native Russian found his way to St. Louis back in 2010, when the St. Louis Blues selected Tarasenko, then an 18-year-old with the 16th overall pick in the 2010 NHL Draft. He would return to the KHL for the next three and a half seasons, before making his NHL debut on January 19, 2013 on opening night of the 2012-13 NHL season that was shortened due to a lockout. Tarasenko scored two goals in his debut, marking the beginning of what has turned into an already magnificent career for the Blues.
Vladimir Tarasenko will turn 28 years old in December of the 2019-20 NHL season. He has played in 497 regular season games for the Blues, and an additional 70 playoff games played in his seven NHL seasons. Tarasenko is one of the most dynamic players the Blues have seen in quite some time and is easily one of the best goal scorers the franchise has ever seen in its 52 years of its existence. Even though Tarasenko has not hit 30 years of age and has played less than 500 games for the franchise, I can guarantee you this: In around 10 years or so once Vladimir Tarasenko’s career is over, his number 91 will be going into the rafters at the Enterprise Center. Here is why.
Tarasenko’s Ranks in the Blues All-Time Records
With still several years to go while in his prime, Tarasenko has already climbed up several Blues franchise records list. He currently ranks 5th all-time in goals with 211. Tarasenko will likely not surpass the Golden Brett Hull in all time goals, who scored 527, but has a chance to climb higher up the list nonetheless. In second place is Blues legend Bernie Federko, who scored 352 goals with the team. Tarasenko has scored at least 33 goals every season for the past five years and if he can keep that pace for 4-5 more seasons, will surely move into second in no time.
Besides goals, Tarasenko has his name all over many other Blues records and will only move up as the years go by. Other places in the record books Tarasenko is already in includes 10th all-time in points, 5th in even strength goals, 9th in power play goals, t-5th in game winning goals, and 5th in plus-minus.
Tarasenko’s Playoff Prowess
Tarasenko has become known for not just his goal scoring ability overall, but his elite goal scoring come playoff time. In 70 career playoff games, Tarasenko has scored 33 goals, the third most playoff goals by a Blues player ever, just two less than Bernie Federko. Tarasenko is at career pace where he is almost scoring a goal every other playoff game he appears in. Tarasenko also makes it happen when he is not scoring, as he has 49 career playoff points in total, good for 7th all time. Tarasenko has a flare for the dramatic as well, as five of his of 33 playoff goals have come as game winning goals, tied for fifth in the Blues all-time ranks.
The Tarasenko Family’s Love and Passion for the City of St. Louis
From the moment Tarasenko arrived in St. Louis, he was fully embraced by this city and vice versa. Tarasenko, his wife Yana, and their kids constantly exclaim their love for the city, and the kindness and hospitality of people in the city. Vladimir has noted several times his recognition of the passion of fans in the city, and up until it finally happened, said over and over how bad he wanted to bring the Stanley Cup to St. Louis.
Tarasenko’s attitude toward the game of hockey in his seven years with the Blues has always reflected that he could care less about his individual accomplishments and if the Blues did not bring the cup home, he was a failure. This was the kind of pressure he has always placed on himself. Tarasenko is passionate about the game and this city and puts it on display for all to see night after night. Vladdy is easily going to be the kind of character guy like Brett Hull, Bob Plager, Kelly Chase, and the like that is going to stick around St. Louis long after he retires.
Being a Major Factor in the Blues Winning their First Stanley Cup in Franchise History
Last but not least, another reason 91 is going to be up in the rafters in a decade is because of his contributions that finally brought Lord Stanley’s Cup to St. Louis. Vladimir Tarasenko may not have taken home the Conn Smythe trophy, which was awarded to teammate Ryan O’Reilly, but the Blues do not win the cup without what Tarasenko brought to the team during the two-month playoff run.
In the 26 total playoff games the Blues played en route to winning it all, Tarasenko net 11 goals and added an additional six assists for a total of 17 points, good for fourth best on the team. Tarasenko had two game winning goals, one in Game 1 against the Dallas Stars in the second round and the other coming in Game 6 against the San Jose Sharks that clinched the Blues their first Stanley Cup Final berth since 1970. During the playoffs, Tarasenko along with David Perron were the only members of the Blues to score at least one goal in all four playoff series.
To conclude, once that dreadful day comes in around a decade when Tarasenko decides to hang up his skates for good, no one will wear his number 91 in a St. Louis Blues jersey ever again. His number will go up in the rafters next to the other Blues legends, and there is also a good chance he finds himself with a bronze statue out next to Bernie Federko, Al MacInnis and Brett Hull facing Clarke Avenue outside of the Enterprise Center. Vladimir Tarasenko has done and will continue to do outstanding work with both the Blues hockey team and the city of St. Louis. There is not a doubt in my mind that his work and accomplishments will be recognized by his number being retired and possibly with the addition of statue. And just think, some Blues fans wanted Tarasenko traded last December. Funny how that worked.