“George McPhee is our guy.”
That was Las Vegas owner Bill Foley on Wednesday, announcing the first-ever general manager in franchise history — McPhee, the 58-year-old hockey veteran who will now construct and oversee one of the most unique teams in NHL history.
“I was looking for a guy who was going to be dedicated, focused and have a take-no-prisoner attitude,” Foley said in introducing McPhee. “Someone I could identify with, and have a symbiotic relationship with.”
Vegas settled on McPhee after a lengthy interview process, which began with seven candidates and was eventually whittled down to three.
That trio was then subjected to individual two-day meetings with Foley and chief advisor Murray Craven, the longtime NHL center.
It’s believed the two final candidates were McPhee, and former Arizona GM Don Maloney.
It sure sounds like Craven’s influence and history with McPhee loomed large. Foley relayed an anecdote about how McPhee picked up Craven at the Vancouver airport back in ’93, after McPhee, then the Canucks’ assistant GM, acquired Craven from Hartford at the trade deadline.
As for Vegas’ future, McPhee wasn’t big on particulars.
He said he’s in no rush to hire a head coach, and doesn’t have any candidates in mind yet. He noted the expansion draft rules will make for a more “generous” group of players to choose from, but added the entry draft will be equally important in terms of building the organization.
If there was one key takeaway, it was that McPhee seemed to understand his new market. Vegas often refers to itself as the “Entertainment Capital of the World,” and the veteran GM played right along.
“I’ve built really entertaining teams,” McPhee said, alluding to his high-powered offensive clubs in Washington. “Teams that entertained, and teams that won.
“That’s what I’d like to do here.”