A great owner puts great people in place to run their business. Great people make great decisions that lead to a business becoming successful. On July 13, 2016, Golden Knights owner Bill Foley announced the hiring of George McPhee as the team’s first general manager. On August 2, 2016, McPhee announced the hiring of Kelly McCrimmon as the team’s assistant general manager.
McCrimmon was often referred to as the “architect of the expansion draft.” Recognizing the position of strength that the Golden Knights were in, McCrimmon used his leverage to make advantageous deals. The Columbus Blue Jackets traded their first-round and second-round pick in the 2019 expansion draft plus forward David Clarkson to the Golden Knights in exchange for selecting William Karlsson. Forward Jonathan Marchessault was selected from the Florida Panthers in the expansion draft. The Panthers also traded forward Reilly Smith to the Golden Knights in exchange for a fourth-round pick. Smith was the reward for the Golden Knights for selecting Marchessault and not one of the players that the Panthers wanted to keep.
There was concern that the Golden Knights would not be able to retain McCrimmon once Seattle was awarded an NHL franchise. The Edmonton Oilers also had an interest. What team would not want McCrimmon as their general manager after watching the early success of the Golden Knights? Foley and McPhee thought the same thing.
“Ultimately it didn’t feel like a big change,” McPhee told USA TODAY Sports. “… It wasn’t a difficult decision for me. It felt right. I’m happy to do it. It’s what is best for the Vegas Golden Knights. The organization comes first. The individual comes a close second.”
It was McPhee’s idea to give up the general manager role and promote McCrimmon. This move allowed the hockey operations management team to remain intact.
Doing so in an unapologetic, emotionless manner. McCrimmon has not been afraid to make a big move. Everyone loved Nate Schmidt. Everyone loved Marc-Andre Fleury. Smith has been the most impactful Golden Knight to the community and is loved by everyone. All three of those players have come and gone under McCrimmon’s watch. The roster is always subject to continuous improvement and winning a Stanley Cup will not change that.
It has been hard to understand at times, but the #McCrimmoPlan has been realized.
Prior to joining the Golden Knights: McCrimmon owned and coached the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL from 1988 to 2016. The Wheat Kings won the Ed Chynoweth Cup in 2016, McCrimmon’s final year with the Wheat Kings prior to joining the Golden Knights. McCrimmon sold the Wheat Kings in 2020.