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Peoria’s Pleau not returning for 2006-07

Peoria Rivermen general manager of hockey operations Kevin McDonald announced on Thursday that Rivermen head coach Steve Pleau will not return to the team for the 2006-07 season.

Pleau has decided to pursue other opportunities outside the St. Louis Blues organization.

“We’re sorry to see Steve go,” said McDonald. “He did a terrific job, and he’ll have a bright future.”

“This has been a difficult decision for my wife and I to make,” related Pleau. “We’ve been talking it over for the last week or so. We enjoyed the Peoria community, the Rivermen ownership, the Rivermen fans, and we thank them. But it’s the right thing to do for me personally and professionally.”

Pleau, 32, leaves the St. Louis organization after eight seasons of service with the Blues’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate team, first the Worcester IceCats and last season the Peoria Rivermen. He joined the Blues family in 1998 as an assistant coach with the IceCats, a position he held for seven seasons through 2004-05. After the Blues moved their AHL affiliation from Worcester to Peoria last summer, Pleau was named the head coach of the Rivermen.

In his first season as a head coach in 2005-06, Pleau guided the Rivermen to a third-place finish in the AHL’s West Division with a record of 46-26-3-5 and 100 points. The Peoria club was eliminated from the 2006 Calder Cup Playoffs in the West Division Semifinals by the Houston Aeros.