When did general manager Bob Green start thinking about a contract extension for Oil Kings coach Steve Pleau?
About two weeks after he hired him in the first place.
Green believed Pleau was the right man for the job then and he still feels the same way two years later -- which is why he just signed him to a new deal.
"We're thrilled to have him on board for the next three seasons," said Green, who has Pleau locked up through the 2011-12 campaign. "He's done an excellent job with this young club in its first two seasons, He has a great approach and he works very, very hard. He's a great fit for us moving forward -- making the playoffs and eventually winning championships.
"When I interviewed him for the job at the start, he and I hit it off right away. He had a lot of the same qualities as Willie Desjardins, who I worked with in Medicine Hat. At that point I knew I wanted him to be the coach."
Pleau went 51-73-20 in his first two years with the Oil Kings, guiding them to a playoff spot in their sophomore season. It was a significant accomplishment, but Green had made up his mind about Pleau long before that.
"That was the icing on the cake," said Green. "Over the course of the season, actually the last two years, I've liked his approach to the game and I like how he deals with young kids. He doesn't worry about who's out of the lineup or how old they are, he's only worried about how to make us better and how to win hockey games."
Last season looked like it was going to end badly for Edmonton -- they only needed to win one of their last two games to make the playoffs and wound up losing both. They were lower than gum on a shoe. All hope seemed lost heading into a Monday tie-breaker in Prince Albert.
"I was really impressed with how he dealt with our players, especially after losing the last two games of the season to Red Deer and having to play a tie-breaker," said Green. "He did an incredible job in rallying the players and getting them in the right frame of mind. Right after the game on Sunday he had a plan in place and everybody knew exactly what they had to do."
A lot of teams struggle with a revolving door of coaches in the early going as they try to find the right fit. The Oil Kings, if all goes according to plan, will have the same guy for their first five seasons. That's rare stability for an expansion club.
"I think part of that turnover is guys don't want the challenge of coaching an expansion team," said Green. "Steve didn't look at it that way -- he looked at it as an opportunity to become better as a coach and an opportunity to make this team better."
That's the plan.
"This is a great opportunity for me and my family," Pleau said. "We are very happy to be in Edmonton. This is a first-class organization and I look forward to taking this team to the next step both on and off the ice."