By LOUIE KORAC
HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- When Keith Tkachuk took another puck high near the facial area recently, this time, he used protection.
However, his protection needed fixing on Friday.
Tkachuk, who will be 38 next month, had successful surgery to repair his left pinkie finger on Friday at Barnes-Jewish Hospital that will sideline the Blues' forward for 10 days.
Tkachuk originally suffered the injury in the Blues' win on Feb. 9 against Detroit, when he used his hand to fend off a shot while parked in front of the Detroit bench.
He would miss the next two games leading into the Olympic break.
Tkachuk returned to practice Wednesday and did not appear to show any ill-effects of the injury.
"No way would I have been able to play over the break," Tkachuk said Wednesday. "It was well-needed and hopefully it keeps getting better and better."
Tkachuk and the Blues decided at the time they'd try not to go with surgery, but on Thursday, he left the ice midway through the practice after dislocating the finger again and surgery was the best recourse.
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Who is that?: Ladies and girls of all ages, prepare to have your hearts broken if you were in love with T.J. Oshie's hair.
Why? Because on Thursday, it was there. Friday, gone with the wind.
Oshie took the ice for Friday's practice at St. Louis Mills and the usually-visual locks he sports were cut down and gone.
"I felt like I was aging a little bit, felt like I was getting gray hairs so I figured cut it off and try something new," Oshie joked afterwards. "I had to take them off. It got to be too much. I figured I'd start fresh, start new for the break here. Just something new."
It didn't go unnoticed in the team locker room afterwards, as Oshie was the on the tail end of teammates making fun of the 23-year-old.
Cam Janssen was the most relentless.
"He looks like a girl I used to date in elementary school in 1992," Janssen said, getting a kick out of a handful of teammates. "Looks like a bunch of spiders having a meeting on his head."
Soft-spoken Mike Weaver also chimed in, "He looks cute with his perm on top."
Time will tell if Oshie, a fan favorite with the female population of Blues fans, will go back to what got him his popularity.
"It was something different and I wanted to try it," Oshie said.
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Olympians back in the fold: With Roman Polak (Czech Republic) on his way back to the Blues after his native country bowed out of the Winter Olympics, the Blues still have a contingency of two remaining in the quest for gold.
David Backes and Erik Johnson will represent the United States as it goes up against favorite Canada Sunday at 2:15 p.m. local time (on NBC) in the gold medal game.
But once the competition is over with in Vancouver, it's time to get back to work with the Blues, and coach Davis Payne will expect the duo to pick up where they left off.
"We expect them to pick right back up," Payne said. "Obviously, they've been playing high-level hockey and the intense pressure that comes with that both physically and mentally. We've got to make sure when they come back, they're checked back in quickly because of how important they are to our team, especially Tuesday. ... We'll see where they are mentally, physically and adjust that accordingly."
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Season ticket prices on the rise: The Blues announced Friday they will be raising season ticket prices for the 2010-2011 season by an average of 4 percent.
The Blues informed season ticket holders via renewal notices that an average 4 percent price increase from current season ticket pricing is in store for the 2010-11 season. The 2010-11 season ticket pricing plan also includes a reduction in price of over 1,100 plaza level seats. Overall, the Blues will continue to provide their fans pricing that is among the five most affordable teams in the NHL.
All full- and half-season ticket holders who renew by April 1, 2010, will receive the “Pay As We Play” payment option for the 2009-10 Stanley Cup Playoffs, as well as a one-of-a-kind Brett Hull Replica Statue. In addition, season ticket holders in the club seats will experience a number of new and improved menu items in 2010-2011 while those in the glass seats will have exclusive access to the new Blue Note Lounge North area at Sections 114/115.
The Blues also plan to maintain the club’s tradition of offering full season ticket holders a host of memorable opportunities such as its town hall meeting at FanFest, postgame skate parties, and this year’s first-ever Season ticket holder winter carnival.
“Since 2006, our ownership and management group has vowed to offer St. Louis the best hockey experience possible, on the ice and in the community,” Blues CEO Peter McLoughlin said in a statement. “Part of that pledge is providing our season ticket holders an entertaining and successful team at a very fair price. We thank all fans, and especially season ticket holders, for their support and look forward to strengthening our bond with them as we pursue a Stanley Cup together.”