A special bond between a little girl and a hockey player


Zach Stevens

The Blues held a moment of silence before one of their games, with attendees lighting up the inside of Scottrade Center.

Madison Henke, Staff Reporter

After fighting a long journey with cancer, eleven year old, Arianna Dougan had passed.

Dougan was diagnosed with neuroblastoma at age three. Neuroblastoma is a cancer often found in the glands on top of the kidneys. After relapsing four times, Dougan had started a new round of chemo therapy and was almost cancer free.

Dougan had attended Hockey Fights Cancer event in 2011. This event is a charitable initiative of the National Hockey League. The National Hockey League Players Association has dedicated it to raising money and awareness toward cancer research.  

This is where she had met her forever friend Vladimir Tarasenko, St. Louis Blues player.

“The first time I met him, I just immediately connected with him,” said Dougan in an interview with Fox 2 News.

On Dougan’s 11th birthday, she visited Tarasenko and toured the Blues’ locker room where she then received presents. St. Louis Blues head coach, Mike Yeo had represented Dougan with a jersey before she was given another surprise. Tarasenko had out bid everyone at the Blues Casino Night to give this chance to Dougan. Tarasenko then gave Dougan an envelope which had the following message.

“You are invited to join Vladimir Tarasenko as his guest to fly with the St. Louis Blues to Arizona and Colorado for a two-game road trip leaving on March 28 and returning on March 31. You and a guest will fly on the team charter plane and stay at the team hotel in Phoenix and Denver.” said the letter from Tarasenko according to Fox 2 News.

Besides seeing the Blues play two games, Dougan and her mom, Lori Zucker enjoyed a nice ride on the team’s charted plane and staying at the team’s hotel.

Dougan is the reason why the Blues started a tradition that will let a child in need travel with them once a year on a road trip.

Ryan Reaves, a former Blues player, gave Dougan the credit of calling the goal.

“I think she called it,” Reaves said. “I’m going to give that one to her. She was a good luck charm on that one.”

The team won one of the two games they played that weekend.

Even with a late landing, Dougan came over the intercom. “Thank you for having me,”  Dougan said. “This is one of the best trips I’ve been on.”

The players waited in the terminal to give Dougan a hug and receive a rubber bracelet that said “Fight like Arianna”. Toward the end was Tarasenko, who had gave her a hug. Dougan gave him a pillow with a thank you note written on it. He then told Ari “ See you soon”.

Tarasenko had visited Dougan in the hospital in the week that she had hours to live.

The Blues’ held a moment of silence in honor of Dougan against New York Islanders, and further posted about Dougan on their Instagram page.

According to Fox 2 News, some Blues fans have started a petition to hang a banner is the Scottrade Center as a tribute to Dougan.