Connected in the 90s: Indians and Blues
The Blues organization went through an overhaul during the 1996-97 season. Jimmy Roberts, head coach of the Indians back-to-back championship teams, joined as an assistant coach and even served as the interim head coach for 9 games. He remained with the Blues as an assistant coach when St. Louis hired Joel Quenneville as head coach for the 1997-98 season. Quenneville coached the Indians during their last season in 1993-94. Quenneville was hired by the Blues new General Manager Larry Pleau, who just so happened to play in Springfield in 1978-79. With a new front office and coaching staff intact, some familiar names to Springfield fans were about to join the Blues.
Without knowing for sure, it seems as if Jimmy Roberts very well had some influence or at least put in a good word for some free agents he knew a thing or two about. The Blues signed defenseman Marc Bergevin on July 31, 1996. Center Terry Yake joined on July 24, 1997 followed by right win Blair Atcheynum on September 15, 1997 and left wing Michel Picard on January 5, 1998. St. Louis could now send out an entire line that had championship experience with the Indians.
Marc Bergevin fit in perfectly with coach Joel Quenneville's new defensive oriented team. Yake, Atcheynum and Picard all played good minutes seeing action in 125, 73 and 61 games respectively with point totals of 52. 30 and 31 over the '97-'98 and '98-'99 seasons. Both would be fairly successful years for the Blues. In each case they advanced to the Western Conference semi-finals losing to the eventual Stanley Cup Champion Red Wings in 1998 and Stars in 1999. I like to think good old fashioned chemistry involving former Indians personnel had something to do with that success.