Armstrong Takes Over as Blues GM
Larry Pleau steps aside after 13 years as Blues General Manager
Thursday, 07.1.2010 / 8:05 AM CT / St Louis Blues - Features
By Chris Pinkert - St. Louis Blues
First, he helped orchestrate a deal that sent prospects Lars Eller and Ian Schultz to Montreal for Jaroslav Halak, a goaltender that helped the eighth-seeded Canadiens defeat the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins in the playoffs this past season.
Next, Armstrong snagged prospect T.J. Hensick, a 24-year-old forward with 99 games of NHL experience, from Colorado for minor-league forward Julian Talbot. He also traded defensive prospects David Rundblad and David Warsofsky at the 2010 NHL Draft, acquiring an additional first round pick (Vladimir Tarasenko) and Boston center Vladimir Sobotka, respectively. He also found a new goaltending coach in veteran NHLer Corey Hirsch.
And he did all of this before actually sitting in the GM's chair previously occupied by Larry Pleau for 13 NHL seasons.
"I think in the last two or three weeks, we've solidified our goalie position. Our goaltender now is 25 years old, he's in that age group to grow with the players we have now," Armstrong said. "I think adding Sobotka helps solidify our forward group as he's another young player that has a lot of energy and plays with passion and is a hard player. He's going to fit in with the group that we have.
"We think we're improving, but at the end of the season, our improvement is going to come from our players maturing and getting better."
On July 1, Armstrong officially takes his new seat in the General Manager's office on the corner of 14th and Clark Avenue. It's a cozy spot with a nice view, but it comes with plenty of responsibility.
Serving as a general manager is nothing new for Armstrong. He's spent the last two years getting to know the Blues and its prospects as the team's Vice President of Player Personnel. Before that, he spent 17 years with the Dallas Stars and six as their general manager. He won two Pacific Division Championships and helped lead the team to two President's Trophies, two Western Conference titles and a Stanley Cup Championship in 1999.
Internationally, Armstrong helped Team Canada claim a Gold Medal at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. He also served as the General Manager for Team Canada at the 2009 IIHF World Championships, winning a silver medal..
Armstrong and Steve Yzerman are currently the only two general managers in the NHL that have been on staff for a Stanley Cup championship, an Olympic Gold Medal and a World Championship gold medal.
But back in St. Louis, there's plenty of work to be done. The Blues have 11 restricted free agents, including Jaroslav Halak, Alex Steen, Erik Johnson and David Perron, to name a few.
He also must make decisions regarding the club's unrestricted free agents, such as Paul Kariya, Chris Mason, Brad Winchester, Mike Weaver and Carlo Colaiacovo, who hit the open market at 11 a.m. on July 1.
Armstrong's ascension to the GM office means Pleau wrapped up his final day there on Wednesday.
"It's kind of sad, there's no doubt about it...because you've been there for a long time," Pleau told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "It's going to give me a lot more time with (my wife) Wendy. I've got no complaints. Thirteen years here, it was a great run.
"The key thing is, the Blues are going to have a heck of a general manager for a long time."