Kelly McCrimmon was introduced as the new general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, effective September 1, on Thursday afternoon at City National Arena. McCrimmon, Chairman and CEO Bill Foley and President of Hockey Operations George McPhee addressed local media about the announcement.
McCrimmon joined the Golden Knights as Assistant General Manager on August 2, 2016 and worked side-by-side with General Manager McPhee as they sculpted the team's present and future. His promotion to general manager is something that he and his family take a lot of pride in.
"To be able to share this with my family, my wife Terry who's here today, my son Mickey, my daughter Chelsea, my parents who are watching and as George touched on it's certainly a day where I think about my brother Brad who, if I was to describe it, would be the proudest and the least surprised," McCrimmon said. "He was my biggest fan my whole life always as I was his. Again, very nice day for our family. I can't wait to continue working the direction that we have been. It's just a fabulous organization and I don't think that's news to any of the people in this room but when you are living it, breathing it every day and you're as proud of it as we are and the people that work and play for us, it's pretty damn special."
McPhee said he and Foley would have supported McCrimmon if he wanted to advance his career elsewhere but that "keeping the band together" was paramount to Vegas' vision.
"We worked so hard three years ago for an entire year to put this great staff together that now we are only two years old and we've got organizations that are 25, 50, 75, 100 years old coming and wanting to talk to our employees," McPhee said. "I'd rather keep the band together and, in this instance, it was easy because Kelly is more than ready to be an outstanding general manager."
Foley said he recognized McCrimmon's role in the team's early success and that losing him to another team would be a hit to the organization. The desire to keep him in Vegas made the shuffling involved with the decision that much easier.
"We are two years into actually playing history, if we are going to create a dynasty, let's not take a step backwards," Foley said. "Let's try and keep everybody together. Then George worked it, it was George's deal really the whole way and we just had to work on some contractual issues and so on. It all worked out and they are great, we are fortunate that we are not a budget team. We aren't one of those teams that is always on the edge in terms of its financial performance. In fact, our financial performance has been very good and as a result we can make some things happen that maybe some other teams couldn't have made happen."
McCrimmon's promotion to general manager of an NHL franchise is the culmination of decades of hard work and dedication to hockey. While his own background with the Brandon Wheat Kings provided his qualifications to join the Golden Knights, McCrimmon had not met McPhee until shortly before he was hired. When they got together and talked about the possibly of teaming up, everything fell into place perfectly as they became the tandem that built the Golden Knights.
"It's just amazing how the three years have gone," McCrimmon said. "It's so rare in this business to be hired by someone that you had not had a previous relationship with somewhere along the way and when George called me in July of 2016, I'd never talked to him before. I had never met him before. We arrived at the airport in Vienna on our way to the Ivan Hlinka Tournament and that was the first time that we had ever met in person."
Though he's only known McCrimmon for three years, McPhee said that it took hardly any time at all to learn who McCrimmon is and why he should be the general manager of the Golden Knights.
"Kelly is a really smart, well-read guy, very good hockey man, and it can't be outlooked that he is a man of high character and high integrity. A salt of the earth guy," McPhee said.
While the honor of his promotion will stick with McCrimmon, he noted that, in hockey, no one dwells on anything whether it's positive or negative. He wants to get to work making sure that the Vegas Golden Knights are Stanley Cup contenders again next season. That starts with scouting meetings this week and continues as the summer months pass.
"This week we meet with our pro scouting staff, next week our amateur staff comes together where they will compile their year-end draft list, the draft itself and free agency ties in right after that," McCrimmon said. "After that there's our development camp, which is very important. We're continuing to make that a priority, developing young players in organization. Then there's the fall rookie tournament training camp and here we go again."