Larry Pleau was a rarity in the late 1960s and 1970s - an American born hockey player.
After Pleau's successful stint in the juniors, Pleau played with the American national team and Olympic team before playing with the Jersey Devils in 1968-69.
In 1969-70 Pleau, who is a distant cousin of the legendary Jean Beliveau, debuted with the Habs, getting into 20 games, scoring just 1 goal. The next year he again saw limited time in an injury plagued year, scoring 6 points in 19 games. His only full NHL season was in 1971-72 and he scored 7 goals and 17 points in 55 games and got into his only 4 NHL playoff games.
Pleau, like so many other good though not great players, was a victim of Montreal's incredible depth. Despite being blessed with high finesse and great stickhandling combined with good size and speed, Pleau never got a chance to prove himself in the NHL.
Pleau jumped at an offer from the WHA in 1972-73. He ended up playing with his close-to-hometown New England Whalers. In fact he was the first Whaler to sign a WHA contract! He was a stand out there for the team's first 4 years, becoming a regular 30 goal, 75 point threat. He was described as an "instinctive playmaker" and "absolutely vital to the Whalers' success." His fine play earned him a spot on the inaugural Team USA Canada Cup squad in 1976.
He played the three final seasons in the WHA Whalers history, but played a much smaller role as age caught up with him.
Pleau of course went on to become a highly front office hockey manager, coach and scout. He coached Hartford through three different stints during the 1980s, compiling a 79-127-34 record in 240 games behind the bench. Today he is best known as the general manager of one of hockey's top teams - the St. Louis Blues. Between his days in Hartford and St. Louis Pleau worked for 8 years for the New York Rangers, most notably as a director of player development.