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Five Questions With...

Five Questions with Kelly McCrimmon

Golden Knights GM discusses new job, search for consistency, competitive Pacific

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulittiNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

NHL.com's Q&A feature called "Five Questions With…" runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.

The latest edition features Vegas Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon.

Kelly McCrimmon, as assistant general manager, was in on the ground floor in helping construct the Vegas Golden Knights from scratch as an expansion team in 2017.

After being promoted to general manager, McCrimmon has a more prominent role this season, but the 59-year-old said it has been an easy transition with George McPhee, who remains the Golden Knights president of hockey operations after handing over the GM title.

"It's been relatively seamless based on two things: the level of responsibility that George had given me right from Day 1 and then, secondly, George is still very much a part of all of our decisions with hockey operations and our relationship has always been a really good one, and that's continued," McCrimmon said. "In terms of the people around me, we've got a great pro staff, amateur staff, development team and, obviously, George's leadership as president of hockey operations."

Entering this season, the expectations were high again for Vegas, which went 51-24-7 and reached the Stanley Cup Final in its inaugural season and went 43-32-7 before losing to the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference First Round last season. But the Golden Knights are 9-7-3 through their first 19 games this season and have yet to string together more than two straight wins.

After going 1-2-1 on a four-game road trip that concluded with a 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday, they return home to face the Chicago Blackhawks at T-Mobile Arena on Wednesday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN).

McCrimmon spoke with NHL.com about the Golden Knights' start to the season and more.

Here are Five Questions with… Kelly McCrimmon:

 

It's still early, but how would you assess your team's play so far?

"Teams are far enough along in their schedules now that you begin to have a pretty good handle on your team. We've liked a lot of things about our team. I think the one area where we'd like to be better is just our consistency hasn't quite been to the level we'd like it to be. When I look around the League, there's probably a few teams that share similar thoughts."

 

There was a lot of talk about the Central Division's depth entering the season, but the Pacific Division has been very competitive with the Edmonton Oilers, the Arizona Coyotes and some other teams that have improved and started well. Do you envision this being a difficult battle within your division all season?

"I'm not surprised. In my media availability prior to opening day, I made the comment that if I was to describe the Pacific Division in a word, I would say improved. That's exactly what you've seen. You mentioned Edmonton and Arizona. You didn't even mention the Vancouver Canucks have had a great start to the year. San Jose is a tremendous rival for us. The Calgary Flames are the defending division pennant winner. So, when you go through it, there's some teams that have been playing really well in the Pacific right now."

Video: Colorado, Vegas among West best despite injuries

 

Is there an area you'll be looking to upgrade as the season progresses?

"Well, we're a [team close to the NHL Salary Cap], so that dictates a little bit what we can do or we will do. But I think like a lot of teams, you watch, you observe. You know there are areas where you can get better, and you see how the year plays out. With respect to our record, we're not running away from anybody, but neither are we falling out of it. So, we keep working to improve, working to get better, and if there's a chance to improve personnel to help that happen then you look at it as you go. That, I think, part of the process that we'll go through. I think it's part of process that all teams go through."

 

Forward Mark Stone has started well with 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 19 games. How do you think he's been fitting in starting the season with Vegas after being acquired from the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 25 last season?

"Real good. I think for a player like that, it's a chance to get settled, buy a home, move his girlfriend down. Your part of it from Day 1. I think it is a real comfortable, real good fit for him now. He's really happy to be in Las Vegas and a huge part of our team. I think he has a lot of respect from everyone in the organization in terms of his play and the type of person he is."

Video: WPG@VGK: Pacioretty scores after slick feed by Stone

 

The Golden Knights are in their third season. Are you past being an expansion team now or there are things you still have to do as a newer organization?

"I think the last piece of that would be the development of our prospects from our first draft (in 2017) and some free agents that we signed both out of the CHL (Canadian Hockey League) and out of the NCAA. This year, we've had some rookies on our team, which we haven't had. Cody Glass (No. 6 pick) and Nicolas Hague (No. 34 pick) are both products of the 2017 draft, so that's exciting [having them on the team] and just continuing to build organizational depth is still really important for us because we are a young franchise."

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