Tim Speltz found it a bit harder than usual to stay incognito. When you’re in a rink that is built for practice rather than games, seating is sparse. Everyone knows where you are.
But it’s all good with the longtime hockey executive, who spent the past few days in Arizona watching the Vegas Golden Knights compete in the Coyotes Rookie Faceoff Tournament. Speltz was named general manager of the Henderson Silver Knights at the end of August so he’s getting his first look at the majority of players who will be on the Silver Knights’ roster.
He had to like what he saw Monday as the Knights prospects built a 3-1 lead, then held on for a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings to finish the tournament 1-2. Jonas Rondbjerg and Jack Dugan scored 40 seconds apart in the second period and Kaleb Pearson scored what would be the game-winner early in the third period after the Kings cut it to 2-1.
“The most important thing is to see these guys compete and get comfortable out there,” Speltz said in an interview on the streaming telecast of the VGK-San Jose game Sunday at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. “You want to win but you also want to see how they react and how they compete.”
Speltz was the director of amateur scouting for the Toronto Maple Leafs the last three years. Prior to joining the Leafs, he was GM of the Spokane Chiefs of the Western Hockey League. In his 26-year run in eastern Washington, Speltz’s teams won two WHL titles and two Memorial Cups (1991, 2008).
Kelly McCrimmon, the Golden Knights GM, knows Speltz well from his junior days in Brandon when McCrimmon ran the Wheat Kings.
“We are very excited to have Tim join our organization. I’ve known him for a very long time, dating back to our days in the Western Hockey League, and he has an outstanding hockey mind.” McCrimmon said. “As our organization has developed, we believe that it is important to our staff, players and fans to have a dedicated manager who will be involved in the day-to-day business of the Silver Knights. Tim will do an incredible job leading our efforts in Henderson.”
Speltz said he has watched the Golden Knights from afar and he is not surprised by the organization’s early success.
“You always want to work with good people,” he said. “They’re committed to developing their young players and I’m proud to be a part of it. I’ve been down here for about 10 days and the organization is very strong.”
With the Knights fully owning their AHL club, it required hiring someone to oversee the operation full time. McCrimmon kept an eye on things last year with the Silver Knights but he has plenty of work to do with the parent club.
“When you wake up every morning, your number one priority is the Henderson Silver Knights,” Speltz said. “It’s what I’ll be doing 24/7. I think what happened last year was a very unconventional year with Covid, but we did well with it and we have everything in place for a full season.”
Speltz has gotten to spend time with coach Manny Viveiros and his staff and that has helped get Speltz up to speed on things while also being able to observe how Viveiros and the assistants manage games and practices.
“I love the fact they’re very experienced and very positive guys and I thing that’s very important when you’re dealing with young guys,” Speltz said. “I think we’ve got everything covered and now it’s a matter of getting ready for the Golden Knights camp, then our camp in Henderson.”