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Blues hire Larry Pleau as general manager

June 9, 1997

ST. LOUIS (AP) _ The St. Louis Blues hired Larry Pleau as general manager on Monday, but he’ll keep working for a rival team for a few more weeks.

Before he takes his new job, Pleau will handle the draft for the New York Rangers June 21 in Pittsburgh. That was one of the negotiating ground rules before the Rangers allowed teams to talk to Pleau, 49, who has been their vice president of player personnel.

``It’s probably a very unique situation,″ Pleau said during a news conference to announce his hiring. ``But it just shows you the relationship Neil Smith and myself had.

``He has no problems with this, the staff has no problem with it.″

Neither does his new team. Blues president Mark Sauer said only that the situation was ``a little complicated.″

The Blues aren’t missing much without him this year. Due to Mike Keenan’s wheeling and dealing, they don’t have a pick until the third round.

Next season, they’re expecting big things. During Pleau’s eight seasons with the Rangers, the team drafted Sergei Zubov, Doug Weight, Alexei Kovalev, Niklas Sundstrom, Todd Marchant and Sergei Nemchinov.

Sauer said Pleau’s scouting reputation made him stand out from other candidates, which included former Capitals GM David Poile and Blues broadcaster Joe Micheletti.

``His experience, his accomplishments in that area, I think, take a back seat to nobody,″ Sauer said. ``He’s been all over the world looking at players, and this is real grass-roots experience that I think is critical.″

Pleau, who got a four-year contract, becomes the 10th GM in the team’s 31-year history but the third in a year. He replaces Ron Caron, who moved back into his old job Dec. 19 after Keenan was fired.

Caron, who also was the GM from 1983-94, will remain with the team as executive vice president and senior advisor to Sauer.

Caron didn’t participate in the interview process, but Pleau’s name was one of a handful he gave Sauer before it began.

``For sure,″ he said. ``Big time. He is a silent dynamo.″

Prior to joining the Rangers, Pleau spent 17 seasons with the Hartford Whalers organization as a player, assistant, coach, general manager and minor league GM and coach.

Blues coach Joel Quenneville played for Pleau when he was the Whalers coach. But Sauer and Pleau downplayed that relationship having an impact on the hire.

Quenneville said the two met for about 10 minutes when Pleau was interviewed in St. Louis last week.

``I think Joel and I have had a business relationship,″ Pleau said. ``He was a player’s player. He had the coaching qualities right off the bat.″

The next step for the Blues might be a contract extension for Quenneville, who has two seasons to go. Quenneville said there have been preliminary talks.

``We’ve made it clear to Joel we want him to stay longer than two years,″ Sauer said. ``He’s done a good job.″

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