When George McPhee was constructing his roster in June during the NHL Expansion Draft, the Golden Knights general manager was thinking of being competitive in the team’s inaugural season.
The playoffs? It wasn’t a priority.
“We were simply trying to put the best team we could on the ice in terms of talent, character and leadership,” McPhee said last week in Edmonton. “We didn’t know where that was going to take us.”
But after McPhee and his staff’s handiwork resulted in a record season, a division title and a playoff berth with home ice advantage for the first two rounds, the question begs — is this team built for postseason success?
“We’re going to find out,” McPhee said. “When we’re on our game, we’re a heck of a team.
“We’re a very balanced team, and we have a little bit of everything that we need. With the way we’ve played, these players don’t want to wait. They want to win now.”
McPhee said Golden Knights fans will enjoy the caliber of play in the playoffs.
“Playoff hockey is different,” he said. “It’s just more intense in every regard. Every shift. Every decision you make. Our fans will like it. I think the NHL playoffs are the best of any sport, and we’re certainly all looking forward to it.”
Like his players and coaches, McPhee is proud of what the Knights have accomplished. But he’s hoping this team can deliver what his previous team, the Washington Capitals, could not in his 17 years as general manager — a Stanley Cup championship.
“We’re delighted to be where we are,” McPhee said. “It’s been a terrific season. But this is where it really counts.”