Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Entertaining 11-Year Run Is over for `the Professor'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Entertaining 11-Year Run Is over for `the Professor'

Article excerpt

During his 11 years as general manager, Ron Caron kept the Blues in the playoffs and St. Louis hockey fans entertained.

He assumed control of a marginal team with dwindling fan support and transformed it into a star-based team that finished 39 games over .500 the last five years and began filling The Arena beyond capacity.

"What will I remember? The growth of the Blues," Caron, known as "The Professor," said. "The team and the family approach to the growth."

In his eventful term, stars such as Brett Hull, Adam Oates, Jeff Brown, Scott Stevens, Brendan Shanahan, Curtis Joseph, Craig Janney, Phil Housley, Petr Nedved and Al MacInnis came to town.

On the other hand, stars such as Mike Liut, Joey Mullen, Rob Ramage, Doug Gilmour, Rod Brind'Amour, Bernie Federko, Stevens, Oates and Housley left. Nobody ever was safe from a phone call from Caron.

He repeatedly put off retirement, grasping for one more shot at the ring . . . but that quest ended Sunday night when the Blues handed control of their hockey operation to Mike Keenan.

Caron, 64, will stay aboard as an executive vice president and consultant. "I have no problem with this," he said. "There comes a time when somebody can run faster than you."

When Keenan became available, Caron agreed to return to St. Louis from vacation and help recruit his successor. "I had one more year to go (on his contract) because they didn't have anybody to take over," Caron said. "I still have a job to do. I don't have to be intricately involved."

As chief scout of the Montreal Canadiens, Caron helped build several Stanley Cup champions before he was swept out in a front-office housecleaning. But his Blues never played for the Cup and reached only one final four since his arrival in 1983.

Caron was brought to St. Louis by Harry Ornest, the maverick entrepreneur who bought the franchise off the scrapheap and quickly turned it into a competitive, money-making team.

By identifying the weak links and terminating them, Caron helped Ornest stop the franchise's fiscal bleeding. Then he began his pattern of trading high draft picks or prospects or both for solid veterans and finding keepers later in the drafts. …

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