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Pleau Rips Into Players? (updated)

December 19, 2009, 7:59 PM ET [ Comments]
Andy Strickland
St Louis Blues Blogger •1380 ESPN • RSSArchiveCONTACT
In a recent story I suggested it's time for Blues management to either address the players or make some type of public comment on where the organization stands with their head coach.

I wrote that I believed there are a few players that are buying their time waiting for the shoe to drop and for Andy Murray to be fired. I also mentioned this was a tactic used by GM Larry Pleau in the past including last season just before Manny Legace was shipped to Peoria.

Recently a few players privately told me they agree that a message from management needed to be sent to clarify where the club stands with their Head Coach.

There shouldn't be any confusion anymore.

Following the Blues dreadful performance vs. Tampa Bay Friday night Pleau marched into the Blues dressing room and performed a pretty decent rip job on his club. Obviously I wasn't there but I've been told Pleau was clear and direct. It's certainly just heresay at this point but I'm told Pleau told the players he can't trade any of them because nobody wants them. A Blues source has since denied this was said to the players. I can confirm that Pleau did stress that Murray isn't going anywhere and accused the players of trying to get their coach fired. It will be interesting to see if Pleau's words will have the same impact as they did last season. The leadership with any organization starts at the top and it's good to see someone is willing to step up. Obviously the St. Louis Blues have not confirmed any of Pleau's comments.

Earlier story....

Things have gotten so bad around the Blues that even the Towel Guy can’t get any respect. The Blues kept giving up goals Friday night before he could do his towel thing.

There’s been a stale aura surrounding this hockey club for quite some time and now the players are fighting to find answers.

Following the Blues embarrassing loss to Tampa Bay the players closed off the dressing room and had it out amongst themselves. It’s safe to say the players with letters on their jerseys are the ones who did most if not all of the talking. I’m sure veteran D-man Darryl Sydor had a few things to say as well.

You can point to a number of issues surrounding this club right now but questioning the leadership is a bit of a reach in my opinion.

The Blues have themselves to blame for the lofty expectations heading into this season. They created the expectations by taking the fans on an incredible ride last winter. It appears the pressure may be a little too much to handle for this group.

Is it safe to say the “It’s time to start winning” speech Owner Dave Checketts gave back in early November has backfired a little bit? It seemed like a good idea at the time but looking back it has certainly contributed to the emotional turns this season has taken following virtually every game. After every loss fans are waiting for some major shake up.

The speech certainly drew a lot of attention to the early season struggles the Blues were having at home. By putting the team on notice so early in the season Checketts also got the attention of the fans and media. Even though Checketts said at the time that changes weren’t necessary I think most people assumed a bomb was going to go off if the club continued down the same path. Did his speech place unnecessary pressure on the club just a handful of games into the season? Not much has changed at the Scottrade Center since November 13th, the day he teed off on his team.

I’m not about to let Head Coach Andy Murray off the hook here but to say he’s the reason the club isn’t completely accurate. Is he part of the problem? Of course he is but I can’t sit here and honestly say he’s the full reason the team is losing.

Watch the Blues play and you’ll see a few players who are currently on their own program. As long as they continue to want to do things their way and not buy into a team concept the Blues will continue to struggle. It’s amazing when the Blues play together how good they can be.

It’s perfectly fair to question some of Murray’s coaching tactics, his philosophies and theories but he’s not on the ice when the Blues continue to kill themselves with incredibly stupid play. The Blues may be the most irresponsible team with the puck in the NHL today. It’s pretty universal at all levels of hockey to chip pucks in deep in an effort to generate offense especially when there is no other option.

It’s time for the players to get out of their sports cars and saddle up.

The Blues have gotten away from playing a gritty, hard working style of hockey. This is what got this team in the playoffs a year ago and it’s what got the fans behind this club. The youthful chemistry has suddenly disappeared from a year ago. What happened?

I don’t want to sit here and point fingers but if I were management I might want do everything in my power to move Paul Kariya. Unfortunately moving this guy appears to be impossible due to his outrageous salary. This isn’t about Kariya not being able to play, it’s his personality both on and of the ice that interferes with the youthful chemistry that made this team click a year ago. Too many young guys that played a huge role for this club last season are pushed to the background due to the strong personality Kariya brings to the table.

It’s valid to wonder why this tam was so successful without certain veteran players such as Kariya

It’s a much different situation with Kariya than other veteran guys such as Keith Tkachuk and Darryl Sydor. These guys are playing because they aren’t ready to retire. They don’t complain when they don’t play and they put the team first in everything they do. They’re true veterans no matter if they play one or 100 shifts. Both Sydor and Tkachuk will admit their best days are well behind them. They aren’t playing for the money, they sincerely want to help the younger players and the organization win hockey games.

One area of concern for me when it comes to Murray is the lack of progress shown in some of the younger players. If the Oshie’s, Johnson’s, Perron’s, and Berglund’s aren’t getting better then this organization isn’t going anywhere.

Oshie has played much better as of late, Perron and Johnson have shown flashes this season, and Berglund is completely invisible. It’s obvious most if not all four of these players have struggled performing under Murray’s demanding environment.

The Blues are not about to fire the coach especially when they haven’t identified a replacement. That hasn’t happened and the club currently has no plan to cut the cord with their Head Coach.

I’ve discussed in the past how every Head Coach has a shelf life, the organization at this time does not feel his expiration date has arrived and therefore are not about to let the players off the hook.

I find it hard to believe management is about to sit here and allow things to continue on. They shouldn’t have to put up with this. John Davidson takes his job very serious, he put his heart and reputation in the hockey world on the line when he took this job.

I’ve been told Murray wants both Derek Armstrong and Tyson Strachan up here from Peoria. There is roster room for both these guys and getting a veteran player like an Armstrong in the dressing room doesn’t seem like such a bad idea. It's hard to fire off a coach without first making some sort of move to positively impact the roster.

Rink Rats!

Former Montreal Head Coach Guy Carboneau will continue getting paid by the Canadians through next August. He’s very hopeful he lands a head coaching gig in the NHL before then.

Look for Grant Fuhr to bolt from the Phoenix organization after this season.

Word is Tampa Bay GM Brian Lawton would not allow assistant coach Adam Oates to attend the recent Brett Hull Hall of Fame night in St. Louis after first telling the organization he would allow Oartes to leaves for a few days.

Sources close to Eric Staal tell me there is no chance Carolina has even considered trading their franchise player. His no-movement clause kicks in prior to next season. The Blues have had zero conversations with Carolina regarding Staal even though false rumors have swirled to suggest otherwise. I was told that I have a better chance of being traded than Eric Staal!

Florida is not moving 24 year old Nathan Horton.

Look for some trades to go down prior to the Olympic Break in February. Teams are fearful certain players will get injured during the Olympics which would obviously reduce the chances of moving certain players.

Blues Clues!

Both the Blues and Chris Mason want to get a deal done. It would make sense to get it done soon to avoid the potential of any type of distraction. Term is not the issue for either side as the Blues know Mason’s character and work ethic. He’ll have no problem getting a 3-4 year deal in the range of $4-5 million per season.

The broken bone in D.J. King’s hand has fully healed. He’s expected to return shortly after the New Year once he builds up enough strength.

Eric Brewer tells me he is getting better and on the path to returning. When that is would be purely speculation at this point.

Larry Pleau met with David Perron’s agent while the team was recently in LA and the two sides continue to talk.

Same goes with Erik Johnson who began preliminary conversations with the Blues back in November.

More to come,

Andy Strickland

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