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McPhee, McCrimmon built the Golden Knights from the ground up to win the Stanley Cup

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McPhee, president of hockey operations, and McCrimmon, general manager, have found particular satisfaction in building a champion together from the ground up.

“We do things collaboratively, we try to make good decisions, and it’s not just one good decision,” McCrimmon said on the ice amidst the celebration. “You have to make a series of good decisions to build a strong organization, to build something like what you see here tonight, and I really feel like we did.”

Owner Bill Foley hired McPhee as general manager on July 13, 2016, less than a month after the NHL awarded Las Vegas an expansion franchise. McPhee said he would not have believed it if someone had told him the team would reach the cup final in the first season of 2017-18 and win the cup in six seasons.

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“I just wanted a second chance,” said McPhee, who was fired as general manager of the Washington Capitals on April 26, 2014. “I needed a job. Bill Foley gave me the chance, and he gave me a lot of confidence, because he’s a smart guy.

“He’s not kidding. We talked a few times, and he called me one day and said, ‘Well, I’d like to hire you.’” What are your compensation expectations? I said, “Put on the table a contract that you think is fair. I will sign it. And there it was. »

McVeigh hired McCrimmon as an assistant to GM soon after. They formed the Hockey Operations Team and maneuvered the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft, which had more generous rules than in the past. Not only have they compiled the initial roster, but they’ve also struck deals to gather additional assets.

The Golden Knights helped Las Vegas recover from a massive shootout on the Strip on October 1, 2017, and shocked the hockey world by reaching the Cup Finals in 2017-18, losing to the Capitals in five games. They made the Stanley Cup playoffs the following season, going 3-1 and losing in the first round of the Western Conference to the San Jose Sharks in seven games.

McCrimmon could have left to become general manager elsewhere, but McPhee assigned him the general manager’s job in Vegas. The move was announced on May 2, 2019 and will take effect on September 1, 2019.

“George is completely selfless, isn’t he?” McCrimmon said. “When he told me that in 2019, I asked him to really think about it, because we had just finished off a disappointing first-round streak. I didn’t know if he wasn’t emotional because of the way it happened.

“He’s been thinking about it for two months. He’s talked to people he depends on. He’s talked to his family. And that’s what he thought was best for the organization.”

McPhee said he believes the Golden Knights have something special as a group and he doesn’t want to lose to anyone, especially McCrimmon.

“He’s just an extraordinary guy, he’s an extraordinary CEO and his hockey spirit is out of this world,” McPhee said. “He had a great sense of humor. It was easy for me to step in and let him take over as general manager because I thought he would do a great job, and he did.”

Video: Vegas GM Kelly McCrimmon on the Trophy-winning build

The Golden Knights actively pursued the Cup, spinning off popular players and coaches, bringing in elite talent and key support players, and pushing the limits of the NHL salary cap.

They reached the Western Conference Finals in 2019-20, losing to the Dallas Stars in five games, and the NHL Semifinals in 2020-21, losing to the Montreal Canadiens in six games. They missed the playoffs last season, largely due to injuries. This season they are with their third head coach, Bruce Cassidy, and only six first-rounders left.

“This team has nothing to do with expansion,” McCrimmon said, listing players acquired in trades as captains. marking the stonefirst place Jack Eichel And the number 1 defender Alex Pietrangelo. “You can browse through the roster. This is a team that was built to be better and better. …

“We didn’t jump over the fence to get here. We’ve had good teams here for a while.”

Since entering the NHL, the Golden Knights are fifth in regular season wins (267) and second in playoffs (54) behind the Tampa Bay Lightning (61). Only Tampa Bay (13) has won more playoff games than Vegas (11).

“Obviously we are happy to win this year,” McPhee said. “I wish we had done it year one, when this city really needed it after October 1st. But we stuck with it and kept making the tough decisions, and it never got personal with anyone. It was just about improving this team if we could do that,” And it was.” He succeeded. »

McPhee has been chasing the trophy as an NHL player and executive since 1983. He reached the final trophy as director of hockey operations with the Vancouver Canucks in 1994 and general manager of DC in 1998, not just as general manager for the Golden. Knights 2018.

“I’m kind of at peace now,” McPhee said. “I can’t wait to get up tomorrow morning and say, We won the Stanley Cup last night in Las Vegas.” Very well. »

McCrimmon never played in the National Hockey League, but his name will be engraved on the trophy along with his late brother’s. Brad McCrimmon won the Cup with the Calgary Flames in 1989 and died in a plane crash while training in Russia on September 7, 2011. Their parents, Byron and Faye, 85, live in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

“I spoke to my dad this morning,” McCrimmon said. “It means a lot to them. It would mean a lot to me. No one would be prouder than Brad McCrimmon of what we’ve done here… I certainly think of him on a day like today.”

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