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It may get lonely, but principal roots for Blues, not Bruins

June 6, 2019

HAVERHILL, Mass. (AP) — Shannon Nolan knows what it’s like to feel alone. As principal of the Hunking School in Bradford, overseeing 1,100 students and a few dozen teachers and administrators, there are always those tough calls that make the person at the top feel isolated.

This past week, for Nolan, that sensation is especially intense.

Nolan, a lifelong New Englander, is rooting for the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final.

Which means she’s rooting against your Boston Bruins.

“It’s true,” she said Thursday. “We were all over at my brother’s house last night (for Game 2) rooting hard for the Blues. What a night.”

Blasphemous? Sacrilegious? Disrespectful?

It depends on how you look at it.

Just a matter of hours after St. Louis defenseman Carl Gunnerson scored an overtime goal giving the Blues a victory over Boston and tying the series, 1-1, Nolan explained her bond with the club, which goes far beyond admiring a team’s colors, logo or region.

Nolan’s father, Larry Pleau, was general manager for the St. Louis club for 13 seasons (1997-2010). After retirement he returned as a scout, a position the 72-year-old still holds today.

As a player, Pleau was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens, spending parts of three seasons there before he signed with the Hartford Whalers of the World Hockey League, where he tallied 372 points in 468 games over seven seasons. He later coached the Whalers over two stints in the 1980s, then entered the New York Rangers front office.

Nolan grew up in Connecticut while her dad, a native of Lynn, played and coached the Whalers, with a pitstop in Binghamton, New York, when he coached an American Hockey League team. She lived with her parents in St. Louis for a short time after graduation but later moved back east and set roots in Hampton, N.H.

“Our family always had a summer place in Seabrook, so we’ve been connected to the area a long time,” she said.

As for adoration of the Blues, Nolan says it’s about more than her dad’s tenure with the team.

Her mom, Wendy, was stricken with an aggressive form of cancer, Burkitt lymphoma, while he was running the club.

“What the Blues organization did for my family, to help us get through it, was something we will never forget,” said Nolan. “They were not only there for my mom, including the fans, but they were there for my dad too.”

Over a decade ago, the Blues started the “Determination Cup,” in Wendy’s honor. The trophy is awarded annually to the winning team in the Blues’ preseason Blue-Gold scrimmage.

Nolan has received a lot of credit for her leadership as a new Hunking School was being built, and the transition that created a kindergarten through eighth grade school from the merger an elementary school and middle school. She recently was chosen to be principal at Amesbury Elementary.

Nolan says she’s learned a lot by watching and listening to her dad.

“My dad had a special way about him when he interacted with people,” she said. “He’s a hero of mine. He had a great career in the NHL, especially with the Blues.”

The Blues aren’t the only team the Nolans and Pleaus follow closely.

Nolan’s husband, Tom, has been a scout with the Nashville Predators for a decade. Her brother, Steve Pleau, works for the Calgary Flames. All of the family live in the Hampton area.

Her mom brought three grandchildren including Nolan’s son, Ryan, in seventh grade, and daughter, Reese, in third grade, to the Game 1 opener at T.D. Garden.

“I’m a fan but my mother is a diehard fan,” said Nolan. “I think most people understand our love of the Blues. I think they’ll give us a pass.”

Online: https://bit.ly/2WNPfGC

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Information from: The Salem (Mass.) News, http://www.salemnews.com

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