ST. LOUIS – Vladimir Tarasenko strolls out of the rink with a smile as grand as the moment.
He is heading to see his sons, and there are now as many of them as the St. Louis Blues’ have wins in the Stanley Cup Final, as Tarasenko has goals in the most important series of his life.
It’s true. Good things do come in threes.
In the limited hours between the Blues’ gutsy, if controversial, Game 5 victory in Boston and a chance for them to win it all at home on what might just be the town’s most glorious Sunday, Yana Tarasenko gave birth to the couple’s third baby.
“It’s great,” grins fellow Dad Club member Patrick Maroon. “She held on until he got back. Yana did a good job of holding on and making sure Vladimir was there. We’re all happy for him. It’s awesome, another boy for him, so we’re all excited for the Tarasenkos and that everyone’s healthy and doing well.”
Yana punctuated her Instagram post of the proud new Vladdy with a heart emoji: “Our little boy. Welcome to the World. 06.07.2019.”
Imagine, if the Blues can complete their fairy-tale journey from worst to first, the newest Tarasenko will be able to say he was alive when Dad hoisted the Stanley Cup. Surely, he’ll be nested inside the thing for photographs.
The 7.4-pound bundle of joy doesn’t have a name yet. Stanley Tarasenko would have a nice ring.
“I’m sure extra motivation,” says centre Brayden Schenn. “He’s going to play hard. He’s a pro.”
Sounds like a call for a full-on Fred VanVleet–style exhibition of dad strength.
“Probably don’t have words to describe it,” Tarasenko said. “Just happiness and love everywhere around there.”
Tarasenko didn’t participate in Saturday’s practice (neither did Alex Steen) due to maintenance but still showed up for work after his life-enhancing Friday.
“Being a parent is probably the greatest thing that can ever happen,” says captain Alex Pietrangelo, whose wife, Jayne, gave birth to triplets in July. “I know it’s an exciting time for him, but he’ll dial it in. We’re not worried about it.
“It’s a family thing. You don’t get to this point without making sacrifices, especially in the playoffs. It’s not just us, it’s our families and friends. It takes a group effort to get to this point. Rest and recovery. Especially when you have kids, people gotta help you through this. A lot of us are forever grateful for people that help us at home to get us to this point.”
Coach Craig Berube admits it’s been challenging for the Tarasenkos, including young Mark and Aleksandr, to balance Yana’s pregnancy with the daily grind of Vladimir’s grueling post-season run.
“Family is important and first, and you gotta make sure that’s all in check. But Vladdy’s been great. He’s been doing a great job of [focusing], and when the game time comes, he’s played hard and played well,” Berube says.
“It’s not easy, and he’s not the only player who’s gone through it. It’s hard.”
In the winter of 2017, Ryan O’Reilly bawled his eyes out when he flew to Buffalo in the middle of a road trip just in time to witness the birth of his and wife Dayna’s first child, Jameson.
“He’s gotta be exhausted. I can’t imagine for him what it’s like,” O’Reilly says. “It’s one of the greatest things in the world to be a parent. Especially at this time, to go through all that, the emotions he must have is amazing, and everyone here is so happy for him. Special time.”
O’Reilly, whose dressing room stall is positioned immediately to the left of Tarasenko’s, wonders when Vladdy will start passing out cigars already.
“I hope I get the first one,” O’Reilly says.
Would pair nicely with a Cup of champagne.