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Blues GM Armstrong: Tarasenko trade marks end of era for Stanley Cup team

Bruce Bennett / Getty Images Sport / Getty

With the St. Louis Blues mired in a stagnant 2022-23 season, the team continued closing the door on its 2019 Stanley Cup-winning core with Thursday's trade sending veteran winger Vladimir Tarasenko to the New York Rangers.

"We had a good season last year, we were trying to wring out another year out of this group," general manager Doug Armstrong said shortly after the deal. "I think when you go back to our successful season of '19, we were a veteran team. We won as a veteran team, and we've been able to hang on to that group for three more years.

"This year, obviously, was the end of that era."

Eight players remain from the Blues' championship roster: Ryan O'Reilly, Robert Thomas, Brayden Schenn, Ivan Barbashev, Sammy Blais (whom the Rangers sent back to the Blues in the Tarasenko trade), Colton Parayko, Robert Bortuzzo, and Jordan Binnington.

Tarasenko had been a key piece for St. Louis since making his NHL debut in 2012-13. The six-time 30-goal scorer ranks fifth in franchise history in both tallies (262) and points (553) in 644 games.

The 31-year-old added 11 goals and six assists in 26 playoff contests during the Blues' run to their first Stanley Cup.

Tarasenko's name had been in the rumor mill for some time. He reportedly requested a trade in July 2021 after losing trust in St. Louis over its handling of two of his three shoulder surgeries.

Blues head coach Craig Berube discussed his long-standing relationship with Tarasenko on Thursday.

"Listen, as a coach and a player, you always have battles and things, but it was never personal. ... I respect (Tarasenko) for that because there was a lot of tough moments and conversations that weren't the best, but listen, he never held a grudge and neither did I."

A pending unrestricted free agent, Tarasenko said Friday there was "no chance" he'd remain with St. Louis, according to USA Today Sports' Vince Z. Mercogliano.

"No deal was offered, so I knew I was going to move somewhere," he said. "I talked with Artemi (Panarin), and they wanted me here. ... One of my best friends plays here, and we have a chance to win a Cup again."

Tarasenko skated on a line with Panarin and Mika Zibanejad ahead of his debut in the Big Apple.

O'Reilly said he wishes his former teammate all the best with the Rangers.

"It was weird. It's something that you're never really ready for or expect. ... We've been through so much since I've been on this team," he said of the trade. "He's always been there, such a huge piece for us, and obviously winning together, it's sad to see him go."

The Blues are 23-25-3 on the season and sit nine points out of the second wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Tarasenko will get a chance to face his former team on April 6 in St. Louis.

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