At the time of the NHL pause, the Blues were close to bolstering their lineup with a post-trade deadline addition.
Out since October following shoulder surgery, Vladimir Tarasenko would have been back for the final month of the regular season. The extra time off has allowed him to get back to 100%.
Tarasenko was on the ice Monday as Blues players took part in Phase 2 of the Return to Play plan. Working out in small groups, this is the step that precedes a possible full training camp beginning in mid-July.
“You start slow, you start with the basics, do some exercises where you remember the feeling,” Tarasenko told the Blues website. “I think it’s going to [come back] pretty quick. You work on the basics and move to a harder, harder level. Hopefully when camp opens, everybody will be ready. And we’re going to play to win again.”
The best video you’ll see today. #stlblues pic.twitter.com/LtM5DyRFv8
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) June 22, 2020
Tarasenko dislocated his shoulder in an Oct. 29 game against the Kings and was expected to miss five months. In February he hit the ice for the first time and he nearly rejoined the Blues on a mid-March road trip.
“It’s like a big trade that you make and getting a great player,” said Blues coach Craig Berube earlier this month. “We haven’t had him all year and our team’s been very successful. Now we got Vladdy coming back, he’s a great player for us, he’s done a great job working back, being in really good shape and being ready to go.”
Despite his absence, the Blues ended up with the best record in the Western Conference. Their 94 points earned the one of the top four places in the Round Robin for Seeding along with the Golden Knights, Avalanche, and Stars.
We don’t know if the Blues will get a chance to defend their Stanley Cup title, but Tarasenko is ready to get going.
“The closer you get, the more positive emotions you have, the more happy you are for seeing the boys for the first time, skating with them,” he said. “I was lucky to go on a couple road trips [before the pause] and feel that atmosphere. I’m ready to come back and play some hockey.”
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.