All-Star conversation becomes reality for Tarasenko, Shattenkirk -

All-Star conversation becomes reality for Tarasenko, Shattenkirk

(HockeySTL) -- A few years ago rookie forward Vladimir Tarasenko and defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk roomed together on the Blues’ road trips. Though Tarasenko’s English was a work in progress, the two had no problem spending long nights just talking. The teammates would discuss a variety of topics, including their childhood dreams. One night, the All-Star Game came up in one of their conversations.

“It probably was in Edmonton,” Tarasenko said. “We (roomed) together the first year so we talked about a lot of stuff and we were talking about the All-Star Game.”

The pair discussed how cool it would be to represent the Blues at a future event. Shattenkirk was in his second season as a Blue after being acquired in a trade from Colorado; Tarasenko was enjoying success in his first NHL season.

On Saturday, two seasons after the conversation took place, the dream came true as both players were announced as two of 42 players headed to Columbus for the 2015 All-Star events.

“It means a lot,” said Shattenkirk. “It’s something you dream of growing up. It’s an honor to say that you can go and play in one of these things with these guys. When you look back on it at the end of your career it’s going to be a truly special feeling.

“It’s not something you think is going to happen every year. I think the Sidney Crosby’s know that it will but a guy like me you may only get one chance at it and you want to have as much fun as possible.”

Shattenkirk is having a career season. He leads all NHL defensemen with 37 points and is set to surpass his career-high 45-point 2013-14 campaign.

“He’s playing really good,” said Tarasenko. “For sure, he’s one of the top defensemen in the league so I’m happy for him.”

Shattenkirk received a phone call Friday night from general manager Doug Armstrong telling him he had been selected for the event and to keep the news on the down-low until the official announcement was made.

“I found out (Friday) night from Doug Armstrong,” said Shattenkirk. “He called me and gave me a shout and just said you’re going and you’ve had a great year so far; keep it up. He’s very proud of me and said just have fun representing the team.”

It won’t be the first time Shattenkirk has been a part of the festivities, but it will be the first time he is considered an All-Star.

In 2011, Shattenkirk traveled to Raleigh, North Carolina for the event as a rookie with limited participation.

“As a rookie, you are more of a fan,” Shattenkirk said. “You play in the skills competition, which was a blast, but you don’t play in the game so you are a spectator for most of the weekend. As a young guy, being with all these superstars on that stage is really fun but you feel like a small fish in a big pond. I just had the most fun I could with it.”

But this year will be special for Shattenkirk, getting to travel with his pal Tarasenko, who has emerged as a superstar in the league.

With 23 goals, 44 points, Tarasenko has become a premier player in the NHL. He was a shoe-in for selection, but he’s happier knowing that Shattenkirk is joining in.

When the news was announced Saturday, the Blues were gearing up for a matchup against Carolina. The two players didn’t have a chance to discuss the news but the topic is sure to grace a conversation or two in the coming days.

“We haven’t chatted about it too much but I think, knowing him, he’s just going to have the best time possible,” Shattenkirk. “He’s a guy who just loves hockey and has fun with it. He will be smiling ear to ear when he gets there.”

Added Tarasenko:  “We were both in the Olympics (in 2014), now we are both in the All-Star Game. It’s kind of cool.”

The Blues are one of eight teams with multiple representatives. It is the first time since 2004 that the club has had more than one player selected for the event, providing double the opportunity to showcase the Blues and St. Louis.

“Being kind of a smaller-market team, we’d like to put our name out there,” Shattenkirk said. “We have a great team here and not too many superstars so for us to be able to go there and represent the team and really just show that St. Louis is a great hockey town and a great team and we have some great talent here. It’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully we can put the city on the map.”

Perhaps the most impressive aspect of the situation is that both Shattenkirk and Tarasenko are two of the Blues’ younger players. Tarasenko, 23 and Shattenkirk, 25, have each been in the NHL for fewer than five seasons.

“Two young kids,” head coach Ken Hitchcock said. “All-Stars are All-Stars. We’ve got two young kids there. They’re 23, 25 years of age. That’s the part I am proud of.

“They are two kids that deserve to be there but they’re young kids and to play that well to get into All-Star games, I’m really proud of them.”

The All-Star events take place beginning on Jan. 23 with a fantasy draft. Two captains, named at a later date, will select their teams. The skills competition will be held on Jan. 24 and the All-Star Game takes place on Jan. 25. So, in two weeks, a conversation that took place two seasons ago will have turned into reality for two teammates and friends.

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