Oil Kings coach brings energy

DEREK VAN DIEST -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 7:25 AM ET

He has a lot of energy - in that Tony Little fitness guru kind of way.

Come to think of it, Steve Pleau, the Edmonton Oil Kings new head coach, also kind of physically resembles the late-night infomercial king who peddles fitness products.

"That's one of the first things I noticed about him is that energy," general manger Bob Green said after introducing Pleau yesterday.

"You need that energy here. The days are long, they start at about 8 a.m., then you practise in the afternoon, then you have curfew calls at night.

"In between, you're dealing with a lot of the kids' problems, so you need a lot of energy and he definitely has it."

Pleau's credentials bear that out.

"I just thought he was a great fit," said Green.

"We wanted someone with pro experience, because we felt in this market we could get that. Working in the American Hockey League, he developed the ability to work with younger players.

"Players in the AHL are trying to get to the NHL, and that's what we're dealing with here, kids trying to get to the pros."

Pleau comes to the Oil Kings after spending last season as an assistant with the WHL's Spokane Chiefs. Prior to that he worked in the St. Louis Blues organization as an assistant coach with the Worcester IceCats and eventually was named head coach of the Peoria Rivermen.

He was also head coach of the U.S. Under-18 team at the Viking Cup.

Born in Seabrook, N.H., Pleau is the son of Blues senior vice-president and general manager Larry Pleau.

"I look forward to the challenge," said the Oil Kings first bench boss.

"I'm young in this business. You're going to lose hockey games wherever you go. I think it's a great challenge, there's opportunity here.

"I see the enthusiasm that's around hockey and you can feed off that."

Pleau played four years for the University of New Hampshire before an injury ended his on-ice career. He then stepped into coaching as an assistant with his alma matter.

"He put a strong emphasis in wanting to come out to the Western Hockey League and coach in our league," Green said. "He's seen a lot of good coaches come out of the west, and he went to Spokane because of that.

"He wanted to be a head coach in this league and try to develop."

The Oil Kings, who also released their tentative schedule for the upcoming season yesterday, are expected to go through their share of growing pains.

"I would never accept losing," Pleau said. "Losing is something you have to learn to handle. But the day you accept it, the people around you will too - and that's not going to happen."

No one expects Pleau to win a championship in his first year. But the team does expect to be competitive and challenge for a playoff spot in its inaugural season.

The Chilliwack Bruins made the playoffs in their first year, while the Everett Silvertips went to the final in theirs.

"We want to compete every night, but we have to be realistic," Green said.

"Everybody is competitive in this business. If he's developing the kids the way I think he can and if he can get our guys to play hard every night as the talent level gets better, we'll start to get a bit bigger."

ICE CHIPS: The Oil Kings have announced a partnership with Standard Radio that will see all 72 of their regular season games broadcast on the Team 1260. A play-by-play announcer is expected to be named in the next few weeks.


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