Updated May 5, 2022 - 5:06 pm
Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon will return in that role next season despite the team failing to reach the NHL playoffs for the first time, owner Bill Foley said Thursday.
McCrimmon, 61, completed his third season on the job after he was promoted from assistant general manager on May 2, 2019. The Knights opened as favorites to win the Stanley Cup with a high-priced roster, but were decimated by injuries to key players and finished well short of expectations at 43-31-8 (94 points).
“He’s going to be back,” Foley said. “Kelly and I have a very good relationship. None of us are perfect, but Kelly is a guy that I can sit down with and have a really honest, forthright discussion. He listens to me, and I listen to him.
“I’m very confident in Kelly’s managerial ability.”
McCrimmon did not respond to a text message from the Review-Journal seeking comment.
Many of the organization’s most significant moves came under McCrimmon’s watch, including firing coach Gerard Gallant midway through the 2019-20 season and hiring Pete DeBoer as his replacement.
In recent seasons, the Knights traded for goaltender Robin Lehner, signed free-agent defenseman Alex Pietrangelo to a seven-year, $61.6 million contract and acquired all-star center Jack Eichel in a blockbuster deal.
But McCrimmon’s decisions haven’t always been popular, either, despite two straight trips to the final four of the playoffs. The trade of fan favorite goalie Marc-Andre Fleury to Chicago last offseason remains a seminal moment in the franchise’s history and a public relations disaster.
This season, McCrimmon had to massage a roster that was more than $10 million over the salary cap. The Knights stumbled to a 16-15-5 record after the All-Star break and took another image hit in March when the NHL invalidated a trade involving Evgenii Dadonov to Anaheim because the winger had a no-trade list.
“He’s a good hockey guy, and he and (president of hockey operations George McPhee), around the scouting staff, have created one of the strongest amateur and professional scouting groups in the league,” Foley said. “And a lot of that has to do with Kelly, the way he handles meetings and takes input from everyone.”
McCrimmon was hired as assistant general manager Aug. 2, 2016, and was instrumental in the club’s preparation for the 2017 expansion draft.
The Edmonton Oilers pursued McCrimmon to interview for their vacant GM position in 2019. Seattle also expressed interest in McCrimmon before he was promoted by the Knights.
Prior to his time with the Knights, McCrimmon was owner, general manager and coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings in the major junior Western Hockey League.
He was named WHL Executive of the Year three times (1994-95, 2009-10, 2014-15) and received the Canadian Hockey League Executive of the Year award in 2009-10.