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Bernie: Firing Quenneville isn't enough; Pleau too

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  • Bernie: Firing Quenneville isn't enough; Pleau too


    Firing Quenneville just isn't enough; Pleau must go, too
    Bernie Miklasz
    Published: Tuesday, Feb. 24 2004

    Joel Quenneville lost the players. He should have been fired. Quenneville is a
    smart hockey man and he will thrive in his next head-coaching opportunity, but
    that's irrelevant. Coaching IQ means little unless the boss can get his team
    motivated to play, and Quenneville's overpaid bunch of phonies quit on him. In
    that situation, the coach must go. Once you lose the locker room, you lose your
    job.

    That said, why does general manager Larry Pleau still have his gig? With the
    Blues trying to mop up a puddle of a mess at Savvis Center, Quenneville was
    pushed aside, but Pleau should be right with him. As the GM, Pleau has
    supervised a program that is regressing instead of advancing. Pleau has had
    nearly seven seasons and a top 10 NHL payroll to build a Stanley Cup contender,
    but the Blues are going in the wrong direction. And Pleau is every bit as
    responsible as Quenneville.

    Pleau hasn't found a solution in goal. His big-gun acquisitions (Keith Tkachuk,
    Doug Weight) haven't made a profound impact in the Blues' eternal quest for a
    Stanley Cup. In more recent months, Pleau gave away a good young defenseman
    (Mike Van Ryn) in a silly trade for wimpy, non-factor winger Valeri Bure. Pleau
    inexplicably bestowed a $400,000 raise on head-case goaltender Brent Johnson.
    Pleau never found a scoring winger to take advantage of Weight's slick passing
    ability. Pleau has failed to seriously address the voids created by the loss of
    injured defensemen Al MacInnis and Barret Jackman.

    I realize that Pleau is restricted in what he can spend, but that
    shouldn't excuse his lack of aggressiveness and creativity. Once again Pleau
    took the easy and safe way out in his choice of a new head coach by elevating
    Mike Kitchen, a career assistant. More on that later.

    Clearly, Blues management has double standards. Pleau and Quenneville have been
    at their posts for roughly the same period of time; Quenneville arrived six
    months sooner than Pleau in 1997. But team president Mark Sauer gave Pleau a
    contract extension after last season. And Quenneville got extinguished.

    "We take a long-term look at performance," Sauer said. "Joel was here for parts
    of eight seasons. Larry is judged on various sets of criteria as a general
    manager. And Joel as a head coach was judged on others. So as connected as they
    may have appeared, there's still separate jobs and separate criteria."

    By declining to give Quenneville a contract extension after last season, Pleau
    let Quenneville enter 2003-2004 on precariously thin ice. The frauds in the
    locker room had no reason to fear or respect Quenneville. The players publicly
    pledged their support for the coach in their carefully crafted speeches to the
    media. But the boys skated through the motions in a half-hearted effort to save
    Quenneville.

    What did Pleau expect? He should have fired Quenneville after the Blues coughed
    up a 3-1 series lead to Vancouver in the opening playoff round last season. And
    Pleau should consider submitting his resignation in recognition that he's a
    major reason the organization has gone stale.

    As Pleau acknowledged, "The coach gets the blame, but that's not fair." I asked
    Pleau if his job should be on the line. "I always feel my job should be on the
    line," he said. "I accept that. (Management) should be looking at me."

    I asked Sauer: Is Pleau's job in jeopardy?

    "No," Sauer said before amending that to add that all jobs are on the line.

    Sorry, but there's no evidence to suggest that Sauer or Pleau is at risk of
    being fired. But they are quick to hold others accountable. Tuesday, Pleau,
    Sauer and Kitchen bashed the players, all but accusing them of stealing payroll
    money with their lethargic work ethic in recent weeks. Well, who put this team
    together? Pleau. OK, who signed off on all of these high-priced stars who
    haven't met expectations? Sauer. Who slashed payroll this season to diminish
    the team's depth? Sauer and Pleau.

    And yet: Sauer and Pleau stay; Quenneville goes.

    That makes about as much sense as NHL officiating. And where was Blues owner
    Bill Laurie through all of this? In Columbia. Typically, Laurie was watching
    Missouri's basketball game vs. Oklahoma State on Tuesday when Quenneville got
    whacked.

    Sauer and Pleau have a sweet deal, eh? They continue to be paid handsomely to
    assemble a consistently underachieving hockey franchise, but they don't have to
    worry about catching heat from their distracted, basketball-loving boss.
    Instead, they dump the coach and rip the players. Will Laurie ever hold Sauer
    and Pleau responsible for this team's reversal of fortunes?

    For now, the buddy system continues, as demonstrated by Kitchen's hiring with a
    contract that runs through 2006. Kitchen is an unproven head coach, so why not
    wait - at least until the end of this season - to see how he does in what will
    be a challenging but fair trial run? If Kitchen doesn't distinguish himself,
    the Blues could have searched for a proven, or at least more established, head
    coach. But now the Blues are stuck paying Kitchen if he fails to live up to the
    promotion.

    Sauer and Pleau both said that they know Kitchen and like him personally. So
    what we have here is another cozy arrangement at Savvis Center. Why bring in a
    head coach who will challenge the organization and possibly pose a threat to
    Pleau and Sauer when it's more comfortable to give an in-house assistant a
    long-term deal?

    The Blues have loyal fans. They have a wealthy owner. They have secure
    executives who protect each other. They have rich players. But where is the
    leadership?

    "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
    Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
    -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

  • #2
    Finally, someone in the media saying Pleau should go, too.
    RIP Chris Jones 1971-2009
    You'll never be forgotten.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by JWB@Feb 24 2004, 11:49 PM
      Finally, someone in the media saying Pleau should go, too.
      Oh, but its garbage, remember?

      "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
      Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
      -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

      Comment


      • #4
        I am sure Bernie emailed Pleau and told him he was sorry, that he was just striking up convo and having a ball.

        Soft limp dick asscake.
        Official Sponsor of Jim Edmonds & John Smoltz

        Comment


        • #5
          Mark Sauer is trash-plain and simple.

          What in the hell is this ass clown still doing in professional sports?
          Jimmy Buffett quote of the week:

          "Open season on the open seas and Captain says no prisoners please. Skull and crossbones on a background of black. We ain't stealin' we're just takin' back ."


          - Jimmy Buffett, Take it Back, Boats, Beaches, Bars and Ballads Box Set

          "Now, she should be good-looking, but we're willing to trade looks for a certain... morally casual attitude."

          -

          Comment


          • #6
            Zing!

            Great column by our former host. I'm pissed that Q was the only one who was let go. If Q had to go, Pleau and Sauer should be standing right behind him in the unemployment line. Probably another ex-Blues coach who will move onto bigger and better things. I'll always root for him.

            Laurie should have been here to answer questions too rather than leaving the 2 stooges to do it for him.
            Official sponsor of Mike Shannon's Retirement Party

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by 007+Feb 24 2004, 11:52 PM-->
              QUOTE(007 @ Feb 24 2004, 11:52 PM)

            • #8
              Bernie is right on, but it's easier to write this stuff when you know most of the fans will be saying Amen instead of WTF.

              Comment


              • #9
                Originally posted by JWB+Feb 24 2004, 11:55 PM-->
                QUOTE(JWB @ Feb 24 2004, 11:55 PM)
                Originally posted by [email protected] 24 2004, 11:52 PM

              • #10
                Good take by Bernie.

                I like Q, and I think he'll succeed at his next destination. I certainly would have gotten rid of Sauer and Pleau before Q.

                But sometimes change is necessary. Unfortunately, by hiring Kitchen, they've chosen a guy who will only run the same system, and probably less effectively.

                Man, this franchise frustrates me.

                Comment


                • #11
                  Excellent column. Pleau is nothing short of a bad general manager. He hasn't drafted particularly well (which is alarming, because his drafting record with the Rangers is what got him the Blues gig), he hasn't made many good trades (I can't remember a truly good one since the Mellanby deal), and his free agent flops were many (I think he made two good signings in seven years--Scott Young and Dallas Drake). He's absolutely horrible.

                  Pleau is the kind of general manager who tries his best to avoid ever making a real decision. That's why the Blues wasted away three different seasons where they could have made a run (1998, 2000, and 2003) because Pleau made decisions that specifically avoided making a decision. And when he finally did make a decision on something, he went too far and ruined the long-term chances of success (the 2001 deadline).

                  He is, without a doubt, one of the five worst general managers in the NHL.

                  Also, while I think Hadley and Bernie have both been wrong for criticizing Laurie for not spending enough on the team, I certainly have lost a bit of respect for Dollar Bill in the last year. Because the team was losing $40 million last year, he decided to help cut costs by dumping a few popcorn vendors (rather than getting rid of a few overpaid players), and now, he doesn't even have the decency to show up when a coach is fired and new one is hired because he's caught March Madness.

                  I've never liked Sauer and never will.

                  Comment


                  • #12
                    Coach Q got the best out of this situation. He is getting out of a place that is going to fall apart and will move on to a better place (provided he does not end up in Chicago or NY ).

                    Anyone know anything about the new coach Kitchen?

                    I can imagine all sorts of headlines with that name like :

                    "Stay out of the kitchen if you can't handle the heat" etc.

                    han solo

                    Comment


                    • #13
                      Originally posted by devaskar@Feb 25 2004, 02:13 AM
                      Pleau is the kind of general manager who tries his best to avoid ever making a real decision. That's why the Blues wasted away three different seasons where they could have made a run (1998, 2000, and 2003) because Pleau made decisions that specifically avoided making a decision. And when he finally did make a decision on something, he went too far and ruined the long-term chances of success (the 2001 deadline).

                      The assistant coach being elevated is yet another example.

                      Of course, my all-time favorite was the big trade deadline move he made by acquiring Blair Atcheynum (sp?) a few years ago. Cuh-lassic.
                      Dude. Can. Fly.

                      Comment


                      • #14
                        Couldn't agree more with Bernie on this, and that frightens me a little

                        Comment


                        • #15
                          Originally posted by Bluenotebacker@Feb 25 2004, 10:27 AM
                          Couldn't agree more with Bernie on this, and that frightens me a little
                          It's okay....its okay....

                          Welcome...

                          "Can't buy what I want because it's free...
                          Can't buy what I want because it's free..."
                          -- Pearl Jam, from the single Corduroy

                          Comment

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