MARYLAND HEIGHTS, Mo. — Vladimir Tarasenko and the St. Louis Blues aren’t satisfied with simply being the defending Stanley Cup champions.
“One Tarasenko says one title ‘not enough’ for Blues is not enough,” the Blues forward said Saturday. “We don’t want to lose anymore. I think we have pretty young group of guys there and it’s good for them at the start of their careers to have Cup experience. Before we won, I think if we won one, I think it [was] going to be enough, but we just want to win again.”
The Blues won the Cup for the first time since entering the NHL in 1967-68. They were 15-18-4 abd last in the NHL standings on Jan. 3, finished 30-10-5, and defeated the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final in seven games. That has motivated the Blues to strive for more, starting with trying to become the first team to repeat as Cup champions since the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016-17.
“That’s where the hunger is. Once you’ve had it once, you want it again,” Blues forward Alexander Steen said. “It’s pretty addictive. You want to have it all the time. I think remembering what that feeling is like and trying to get there all the time is the hunger that you want. Before, you might not really know what it’s like to win, but you were really hungry to find out. Now we’ve done it once, it’s almost an addictive feeling. You want it again and again.”
Aside from forward Pat Maroon, who signed a one-year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning on Aug. 24, and defenseman Michael Del Zotto, who signed a one-year contract with the Anaheim Ducks on July 16, the Blues kept their roster intact.
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When the season starts Oct. 2 against the 2018 Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals, the Blues know they’ll be the hunted rather than the hunter.
“I think looking back in previous years when we got a matchup against the Cup champs, you’re going to get everyone’s best game or everyone kind of knows that you’re going to face the other teams’ best,” Blues forward Brayden Schenn said. “For us this year, I think we’ve got to use training camp to get up to speed, kind of forget about last year. Obviously, we had fun with it, but I think doing it once makes you want to do it again.”
They’ve been able to bask in the title for three months, but when coach Craig Berube gathered the players on the eve of training camp that started Friday, his message was easy: Turn the page.
“You’ve got to move on from last year. We’ve got work to do,” said Berube, who signed a three-year contract June 12, 12 days after winning the Cup. “That’s basically the message. You’ve got to put the work in, and you’ve got to get back going.
“From a chemistry standpoint and predictability standpoint, it’s good stuff, but a lot of work to do again. You’ve got to put the work in. It’s a tough league and you’ve got to be ready to go.”