Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Tarasenko's Goal Have No Regrets as a Father

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Ortiz: Tarasenko's Goal Have No Regrets as a Father

Article excerpt

Practically on cue, one-year-old Aleksandr Tarasenko triumphantly raises his arms and smiles after hearing the word that Blues fans associate with his famous father.

"Goal!" Vladimir Tarasenko and his stepson, Mark, 10, yell as they raise their arms in an impromptu goal celebration.

Most parents can tell you exactly where they were the first time they saw their child take a few steps. Vladimir and Yana Tarasenko are no different.

Tarasenko lights up when he describes the moment he first saw his baby walk in his spacious basement, but he gets even more animated when he recalls the first time Aleksandr raised his arms to celebrate a "goal" call.

Vladimir, Mark and Aleksandr were playing together when Aleksandr saw them celebrate a goal and mimicked their reactions. Vladimir, who has scored 145 goals over his five seasons with the Blues, was so excited about his baby's goal celebration that he immediately called Yana so that she could also see him raise his arms in triumph.

Tarasenko is taking advantage of his time at home this offseason. He enjoys spending time with Yana, Mark and Aleksandr as he tries to catch up on everything he missed while playing for Russia at last summer's World Cup and with the Blues throughout the season.

Considering the Blues reached the 2016 Western Conference finals, Tarasenko hasn't had much time away from hockey over the past three years. He played in the world championships after the Blues were eliminated in the 2015 playoffs. He then led the Blues to their first Western Conference finals in 15 years in 2016, putting them within two victories of the Stanley Cup Final.

His life was changed forever when Yana gave birth to Aleksandr on May 17, 2016, a few hours before Tarasenko rushed to Scottrade Center for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals against the Sharks. Four months later, he was on the Russian national team for the World Cup of Hockey.

He was asked to join his national team again this May for the world championships after the Blues were eliminated by the Predators, but he passed to let his body recover and to spend time with his family in St. Louis.

Tarasenko, who was raised by his paternal grandparents in Russia while his dad played professional hockey, doesn't want to have any regrets as a father.

"My dad wasn't there because he was playing," he said. "I know now how hard it was for him to not see the family. Just somehow sometimes in your life you put your priorities (in order) and decide what kind of stays in front of you, and some things go to the side.

"My family is the most important thing for me. I'm enjoying my time here. ... I always enjoy my time at home. A lot of people say we have a good atmosphere in my house. That's why I want to stay here and hang out and enjoy my family."

Although the Blues' turbulent season ended two rounds short of the Stanley Cup Final, Tarasenko has had the most fulfilling time of his personal life since his baby was born a year ago.

Four months after the baby was born, Tarasenko accomplished one of the biggest goals he set as a child by scoring for his national team with his paternal grandfather and namesake in this stands at the World Cup in Toronto.

Then in October he convinced his grandfather Vladimir to visit St. Louis for the first time to watch him play at Scottrade Center. The elder Tarasenko finally saw how far his grandson has come, figuratively and literally, since he raised him in a two-room apartment in Yaroslavl, Russia.

Tarasenko grew up in a modest apartment with one bedroom, a small living room, a kitchen and one bathroom. Now, his palatial home's basement, which has a miniature hockey rink, could easily fit inside Tarasenko's childhood apartment.

"Here (in America) a lot of people can live in a nice house," he says. …

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