'About 20%' of Blues players had COVID-19; Tarasenko needs surgery on shoulder again

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong says the positive tests all came during the team's buildup and likely affected the team's fitness level.

Sam Masterson
August 26, 2020 - 11:39 am
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ST. LOUIS (KMOX) - St. Louis Blues general manager Doug Armstrong says a number of positive COVID-19 cases among his players may have been a factor in his team's first-round exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

In a video conference with media, five days after being knocked out in six games by the Vancouver Canucks, Armstrong confirmed that "about 20%" of the roster tested positive for COVID-19. The tests all came before the team entered the NHL bubble in Edmonton. 

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Armstrong says any player who had it felt at least some symptom of the virus, and it kept them off the ice and out of the fitness room as the team was trying to get back into game-ready hockey shape.

"It affected each of the players differently," Armstrong says. "Some lost considerable amounts of weight, they all felt some form of a symptom. It wasn't that they had it and they didn't feel anything."

Head coach Craig Berube also pointed to the team's fitness level not being up to snuff for these playoffs.

"I think a lot of guys were good, they took care of themselves and were ready to go. But as a team, I don't think we were good enough," Berube says. 

He says he'll be pushing for players to come into training camp for next season in "unreal shape." 

"Younger guys have to keep improving and getting better, as do older guys," Berube says. "If you're an older player you've got to do certain things to keep improving. You've got to work on your deficiencies and get better. I don't want guys coming into camp not in great shape and can't perform at a high enough level. It won't be accepted as a coaching staff and as an organization. We're going to be demanding of people and that's the best way to get better."

As of now, there's not a set plan for the start of the 2020-21 NHL season and when asked about it, Berube said there is still some uncertainty. 

On July 13, the NHL announced that 43 players tested positive for COVID-19 during Phase 2 of the NHL's return-to-play plan, according to NBC Sports.

However, there have been no positive tests reported by the NHL since the middle of July.

Tarasenko to be re-evaluated in 5 months

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasneko will have another surgery on his shoulder and will be re-evaluated in five months, Armstrong announced on Wednesday. 

"We're hoping that he gets back to the level that he was at before," Armstrong says. "I'm not concerned about the work ethic and the approach he's going to take to put himself in a great spot. But time is going to tell on how quickly and the impact he can have when he gets back. I think he can have the same impact as before, but it's really irrelevant what I think or what I feel. It's going to be how he does when he gets back."

The 28-year-old winger posted a message to Blues fans on Instagram Wednesday afternoon to make it clear that "I'm not done, career is not done."

"I'm more motivated than ever to finally get healthy and play. I hope and believe that doctors will do their job, fix the problem and there the solution for that," Tarasenko states. 

He also thanked the people of St. Louis who have supported him on his recovery and also says "God Bless you" to the "haters" and people sending bad messages to him. 

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A post shared by Vladimir Tarasenko (@vt9191) on

He missed 61 games this season, after needing surgery due to an injury he sustained on Oct. 19, 2019. 

Tarasenko returned to the Blues lineup vs. Chicago on July 29 and played four games in Edmonton. He was sent back to St. Louis after he missed Games 3 and 4 in the first-round series against Vancouver. 

This is a breaking news story that will be updated.

KMOX's Ben Boyd contributed to this report.

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