MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Vladimir Tarasenko was present for the start of training camp with the St. Louis Blues on Thursday and said he is focused on playing hockey after the forward, through his agent Paul Theofanous, requested a trade May 25.
Tarasenko declined to discuss the specifics of his trade request, confirmed by general manager Doug Armstrong on July 22. Tarasenko, who had three surgeries to his left shoulder since 2017, is moving forward as if he will be with the Blues.
“My mindset is good,” Tarasenko said. “Happy to be with the guys. I have good relationships with the guys. It’s been a weird summer, but it’s kind of stay between us [and] between me and Doug. I’m here to work. As long as I play here, I will work 100 percent. I’m 100 percent healthy. [We’ll] go from here.
“It’s all behind. I don’t see a reason to discuss it now. Camp [started]. I don’t want to be a distraction in the room. Like I said, I’m here to work. I’m healthy, I’m happy to play hockey again.”
Tarasenko scored 14 points (four goals, 10 assists) in 24 regular-season games and two goals in four Stanley Cup Playoff games last season. He played his first game March 6 after missing the first two months recovering from surgery on his left shoulder Sept. 17, 2020. He also had surgery on that same shoulder in 2017 and 2019.
The Blues left Tarasenko unprotected for the NHL Expansion Draft on July 21, but the Seattle Kraken chose defenseman Vince Dunn from St. Louis.
“I told you guys, it’s all behind,” Tarasenko said. “I’m just here to work, to keep working. That’s it. There’s not much to talk about.”
Tarasenko skated on a line with Brandon Saad and Robert Thomas on Thursday, and as far as the Blues are concerned, he’s a part of their group.
“I really don’t believe it’s a distraction at all,” coach Craig Berube said. “He’s been here for a while, skating with the guys, being with the guys, hanging out with the guys. I thought he looked excellent out there today. He’s been part this team for a long time. Yeah, things happen in the summertime or things are said. I don’t go into all that, I don’t worry about that. He’s here playing hockey for us, so I coach him. That’s it. It’s not a distraction in my opinion.
“I don’t believe it’s an issue at all. If he wasn’t bought in, I don’t think he’d have been here a month early skating with the guys and working out with the guys and being around. He’s obviously bought in. He’s part of this team. He’s been part of this team his whole career, NHL career. I don’t see a buy-in problem.”
Tarasenko has scored 442 points (218 goals, 224 assists) in 531 regular-season games and 51 points (35 goals, 16 assists) in 78 playoff games over nine seasons for St. Louis.
“I think he’s here and he’s a Blue,” captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “That’s a great thing for us. He’s a great player and we’ve all seen it. He looks very healthy, and he’s been back for a month now skating with guys. He’s here and he’s ready to go. That’s the plan. I think we’re a better team with him, what he can bring. I think it’s going to be good.”
Tarasenko said getting acceptance from his teammates has never been an issue.
“The guys give me a lot of support in the room,” Tarasenko said. “Everybody was happy to see me, and everybody was nice to me. I can’t complain about this one.
“As long as I play for the Blues I will work hard and play for the win. We’ve been here for nine years. … We always love [the] St. Louis community. We always try to help the community as much as we can, and like me and my family, we are always grateful to those people who support us these past nine years, especially this past summer. We received a lot of support. We’re really grateful to have this. This is our home. I’m happy to be with the guys. Like I said before, I’m healthy and I’m happy to work.”