(HockeyStL) – While practicing Monday morning in preparation for their game in Dallas Tuesday, the Blues took time to remember fellow St. Louis sports teammate Oscar Taveras after his tragic death in a car accident the night before.
The mood in the locker room was somber as the accident dominated much of the talk, despite a tremendous win by the Blues against the Chicago Blackhawks Saturday and the tough competition awaiting them in the Stars. Instead, many players remembered how talented Taveras was destined to be.
“It’s terrible, it’s terrible news. I was shocked,” said TJ Oshie, having just beamed to reporters about how well his infant daughter was doing, “I didn’t realize how young he was. [It’s a] tough time in St. Louis right now, you never want to see something like that with how young and promising he was.”
Kevin Shattenkirk, Ian Cole and David Backes said they were all watching the World Series game Sunday night when they learned the devastating news of Taveras’ death and immediately looked for further information on Twitter.
“I was watching the game last night, the sound wasn’t on,” Shattenkirk described, “and we saw the picture of Taveras with the 1992-2014, instantly we went to our phones. We were just thinking to ourselves, ‘Wow, we just saw this guy recently.’”
An obviously emotional Backes said he was so shocked by the news, he didn’t even know what to say to reach out to fans and teammates on Twitter.
“I couldn’t even muster out a tweet,” he said, “A 22-year-old kid with the world in front of him. You can forget about the baseball part of it, he had a lot of life to live. It hits home when it’s in the St. Louis family.
“Even as a new guy that’s just breaking into the league, people talk about losing a great baseball player, but for me this goes well beyond that. Baseball – sports – is a small window in our lives and we’re very grateful to be playing, but in the end he had a family that he cared about to go back to in the offseason and you can’t even think of words to say to make anything better. Unfortunately we’re one short in the St. Louis sports family today.”
And for head coach Ken Hitchcock, he said Taveras’ death was something a coach dreads for his players since he can’t keep them under watch every minute of their lives, especially as he realized he had players that are the same age as Taveras.
“When I first started, I didn’t worry about that stuff. But as you mature and see things that happen, you definitely have your antenna up at all times,” Hitchcock continued, “As you get older, you get more paranoid about it. We get off planes at 2, 3 o’clock in the morning and you don’t know. You feel secure when they are in the environment coming to practices, going to games, but there are all kinds of situations where, as a business late at night, you worry about it.”
“My heart goes out to his family and the Cardinals,” Shattenkirk added, “That’s not something that’s easy to deal with and there’s been too much of that surrounding the Cardinals in the past few years. You just hope you can lend any kind of helping hand and show support. For a promising young man like that, it’s just very tragic.”