Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Mellanby comes full circle, joins Blues coaching staff

Former Blue, current Vancouver consultant named assistant coach

ST. LOUIS -- The day Scott Mellanby got traded to the Blues in 2001, nobody would have guessed it would turn out to be a never-ending love affair with St. Louis.

Even after Mellanby departed the Blues as a player and finished his career with the Atlanta Thrashers, Mellanby and his family continued to call St. Louis home.

It all came full circle for Mellanby on Tuesday when the Blues named the Montreal, Quebec native an assistant coach to head coach Davis Payne's staff on Tuesday.

Mellanby, who is currently a special consultant with the Vancouver Canucks, a job he has held for the past three seasons, will remain in his current role until July 15.

The former Wisconsin Badger will fill the role that was left when the Blues sent former assistant coach Rick Wamsley to Peoria to become the head coach of the Rivermen. Wamsley has since been fired.

"I think first of all, I'm excited to be in this spot with St. Louis," Mellanby said Tuesday morning. "We made our home here, and it's a special place for us. And I'm really excited about being back with the team. It's coaching -- I'm not playing anymore -- but I really miss the daily ups and downs."

Mellanby spent parts of four seasons (235 games) with the Blues from 2001-2004. He tallied 57 points in 2002-03, the most since the Stanley Cup season playing with the Florida Panthers in 1995-96, where he set career highs in goals (32), assists (38) and points (70). Mellanby played in 1,431 games over his career with five teams and 136 playoff games during 18 seasons.

"I'm excited to add a quality person like Scott to our staff, who was highly respected as a player on and off the ice," Payne said in a statement. "He has great knowledge of the game and will be a valuable addition on our staff."

Mellanby retired following the 2006-07 season with the Thrashers and has been in his current role with the Canucks, but he did much of his work here in St. Louis, including attending many games at Scottrade Center.

"I've went to about 25-30 games a year the last two years," Mellanby said. "I guess I would know the personnel as well as anybody except them."

Maybe that's a reason the Blues chose Mellanby, 43, because of his knowledge of their organization despite being a part of another one. And the former first-round pick of the Philadelphia Flyers (27th overall) back in 1984 is excited about getting started with the franchise in the city he calls home.

"It's a bit of a gifted opportunity," Mellanby said. "I earned it with my play on the ice, but there are coaches all over the place putting in the time and years to get to the NHL. I'm very thankful for this opportunity. Everybody that knows me knows I'm a worker, and that's how I'll treat this job.

"Two years ago, (the Blues) made the playoffs and I think that set the expectations too high," Mellanby added. "The team progressed (last season), but not making the playoffs made it seem like it was a failure. There's definitely a lot of bright spots and a lot of talent. I think that's the biggest thing, making the playoffs two years ago, as great as it was, it was curse."

Mellanby will be teamed with Brad Shaw and Ray Bennett, as the Blues chose to retain both for the upcoming season.

"I think part of the reason the team and Davis wanted me to come was my experience ... I've been in league a long time," said Mellanby, who played for five different franchises (Philadelphia, Edmonton, Florida, St. Louis and Atlanta. "From the side of helping deal with players, I've been through those battles. I guess I would know personally as well as anybody what to expect.

"One of my strengths as a player, I played pretty much every role there is to play -- first line, fourth line, I scraped a little bit to make my way. I can identify with it all. I ended up being captain and leader, which gives me perspective on that. Some days, you're top players need guidance and some days it's other guys. I want to provide that."

* Prospect inks contract -- The Blues also announced that they have signed forward Jori Lehtera to an entry-level contract.

Lehtera, the Blues' third-round pick (65th overall) in 2008, will play in Russia next season after signing a two-year contract Monday with Yaroslavl Lokomotiv of the KHL.

Lehtera, 22, a Helsinki, Finland native, led the Finnish National League in points when he tallied 19 goals and 50 assists (69 points) playing for Tappara.

"Jori had an excellent year this past season as he led the entire Finnish League in points," Blues President John Davidson said in a statement. "Our scouts are very high on him and expect him to be a solid NHL player in the future."

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