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Former Blues GM Pleau honored at meetings

by Shawn P. Roarke

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The NHL's general managers took time from their annual March meeting here to honor one of their peers, Larry Pleau, the manager of the St. Louis Blues from 1997-2010.

Pleau was to be honored Monday night during a dinner with the current managers.

"It's going to be a really good night tonight," said Doug Armstrong, the current GM with the Blues. "There will be a few laughs and probably a few tears too."

During his time as the manager of the Blues, the team posted a 468-396-120 record and captured the Presidents' Trophy in 1999-2000. From 1997-2003, the Blues went 260-153-63-16, the best six-year run in franchise history.

Pleau also was a primary builder of the success the team is enjoying today. He had a hand in the drafting of many of the building blocks, including Barret Jackman, Jay McClement, Erik Johnson, Roman Polak, David Perron, David Backes, T.J. Oshie, Patrik Berglund and Alex Pietrangelo.

Pleau won the Stanley Cup in 1994 as part of the New York Rangers' front office. He has also been an instrumental part of the front-office staff for USA Hockey. He was on the management staff of the American team that won a silver medal at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.

New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello has known Pleau since before either joined the NHL. Lamoriello was a fixture on the Rhode Island hockey scene, and Pleau grew up in nearby Lynn, Mass.

"One of the classiest individuals you ever want to be around," Lamoriello said. "From day one, we come from the same area, know a lot of the same people. He was always a pleasure to deal with. I have the highest opinion and just feeling for him."

Lamoriello says that Pleau's greatest asset in dealing with others is his honesty and integrity.

"When you were talking to him, you always knew what he was telling you, he wasn't trying to get one up on you," Lamoriello said. "He was honest. You could just talk and not worry about what the ulterior motive was."

Armstrong, who succeeded Pleau as GM, also mentioned Pleau's reputation for being a straight-up GM.

"He's one of the few guys, it might be a cliché, but I've yet to hear anyone utter a bad word about Larry," Armstrong said. "That's not just because we're having him here tonight; it was when you were dealing with him. I'd ask my former boss, Bob Gainey, for the lay of the land, and Larry was always one of those guys, his word is his bond. That's the type of trust he had from all the other managers."

Pleau has impacted everyone in his path, it seems.

At one point, Marc Bergevin was a defenseman with the Blues, playing under Pleau. Now, he is one of the 30 GMs that will fete Pleau. The Montreal Canadiens' general manager couldn't be happier with the opportunity.

"I've had many GMs in my career and I try to take bits and pieces of everything those GMs were doing in my teams," Bergevin said. "I've always respected Larry. We could always see him around the team, but he was never too involved with the group of players. He was the GM and Joel [Quenneville] was the coach. I am sure that they had their disagreements, but when it was coming to us players, we were always convinced that they were both united in the team cause.

"I try to apply that exact same approach with my coach [Michel Therrien] in Montreal. It's a special feeling to see that I will be part of the group that will honor him tonight, considering I once played for him. But, all I can say is that it is a well-deserved honor."

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