George McPhee constructed Stanley Cup Final teams

Updated May 27, 2018 - 9:12 pm

I don’t know how many rocks there are in Ann Arbor, Michigan — although I’m guessing that loony Jim Harbaugh has challenged some 7-year-old to a contest skipping them across a lake — but it’s where George McPhee says he was kicking a handful of them two years ago.

He wanted to work but couldn’t find a job.

“It’s funny,” McPhee said, “how life goes.”

Rare is the time now when you can reach a championship series of a major professional sport and discover something history hasn’t delivered, and yet this Stanley Cup Final between the Golden Knights and Capitals might have done so.

Meaning, it’s McPhee who built both teams.

You will see his fingerprints all over the T-Mobile Arena ice when Game 1 of a best-of-seven commences Monday evening, the general manager architect of an expansion Vegas side and the man who spent 17 years with Washington in the same capacity.

Jerry West built the Lakers, Pat Riley coached them and then he built the Heat. John Schuerholz built a World Series champion in 1985 with the Royals and 1995 with the Braves.

Bryan Murray built the Florida Panthers side that made a Stanley Cup Final, built the Anaheim side that did the same, and then coached the Ottawa team that lost to those Ducks in the 2007 final.

See what we mean?

For one person to have had the hands-on influence of McPhee with two teams in the same final rivals Gerard Gallant tipping his hand on pregame line changes.

It’s sort of unprecedented.

Who are we kidding?

It never happens.

“I’m certainly proud of the Washington team and the players,” McPhee said. “We made good selections. And they turned out to be real good players. I can certainly take pride in that.

“When you’re working with them, they’re sometimes like your own kids. You’re on call for them all the time. You’re trying to help them. You’re trying to steer them in the right direction, and then you get fired, and you’re suddenly persona non grata because nobody wants to be too close to you in the organization.

“I understand that things change quickly. And that’s the business. But, certainly, really happy for them and really proud of this team we have in Vegas.”

Building things differently

He constructed things with the Capitals primarily through the draft and developing young players into veterans. He did so in Vegas with current pros unwanted by their previous organizations.

Many of his front office hires with the Knights were those who worked under him in Washington.

Fingerprints.

Everywhere.

It has all occurred when the job of a general manager has been made incredibly difficult within a salary cap era, when your global scouting must prove beyond effective, when the process of evaluating players never really ends, certainly not once they reach the NHL.

Washington’s roster has 12 players drafted by McPhee, including the likes of Alex Ovechkin and Braden Holtby and Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov and John Carlson. The Capitals made a Cup final under McPhee’s stewardship in 1998 — his first as general manager there, just as with Vegas — but never advanced past the second round thereafter.

He was fired in 2014.

“(McPhee) drafted me (in 2008), is a good friend and I’m really happy he is having this success in Las Vegas,” said Carlson, the Capitals starting defenseman. “But it’s no shock to anyone who knows him that he was able to build two such great teams. It might be a surprise how fast things happened with Vegas, but in terms of building a culture and foundation for what comes next, he has done all that here, as you would expect with him.”

It was Dec. 23 when the Capitals visited T-Mobile, McPhee’s first game facing his old team with the Knights.

Kelly McCrimmon, his assistant general manager with Vegas, sent McPhee a text wishing him and the team luck.

He also wrote that his boss should be proud of both teams.

“(McPhee) is a really intelligent person,” McCrimmon said. “He is a very good leader who empowers the people around him. We hired really, really good people here, and I think he would be the first to admit that of all the things we’ve done well, that’s what we did best.”

McPhee built both teams that will play for a Stanley Cup.

Seems as though he did a lot of things well.

Hey, it beats kicking rocks.

More Golden Knights: Follow Golden Knights coverage at reviewjournal.com/GoldenKnights and @HockeyinVegas on Twitter.

Contact columnist Ed Graney at egraney@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4618. He can be heard on “The Press Box,” ESPN Radio 100.9 FM and 1100 AM, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

ad-high_impact_4
Golden Knights Videos
Golden Edge: Knights Win Third Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat reporter David Schoen go over the Knights 7-2 win over the L.A. Kings.
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Nevada Task Force One Cheers Golden Knights
Golden Edge: Vegas Fans Show their Love at Fan Fest
Bryan Salmond is on the red carpet at the downtown Las Vegas Events Center as the 2018-2019 Golden Knights show up for Fan Fest.
Golden Edge: Knights Back From Colorado
Golden Knights reporters Adam Hill and Ben Gotz talk about Knights preseason training camp and how Max Pacioretty is fitting in with the Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag — September 17, 2018
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights fans.
Golden Edge: Knights Win First Preseason Game
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond, David Schoen, Ben Gotz and Adam hill recap the Golden Knights first preseason game win against the Arizona Coyotes.
Golden Edge: First Practice
Adam Hill and David Schoen discuss the first day of practice for the Golden Knights.
Golden Knights Presser Max Pacioretty
Max Pacioretty speaks about his first impressions coming to the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Mailbag
Ben Gotz answers questions submitted from Golden Knights' fans about recent roster changes.
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Rookies Faceoff Against The Sharks Good
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond breaks down the 5-4 loss the Golden Knights rookies had against the San Jose Sharks.
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects
Lucas Elvenes is ranked as one of the Golden Knights' top prospects after a breakout season in Sweden. He slid to the fifth round in the 2017 draft after being projected to be selected much higher. “I wasn’t happy about being a fifth-rounder. But it was good for me, too, because I didn’t have so much pressure when I came here," Elvenes said. Elvenes posted five goals and 16 points in 28 games while playing in the top league in Sweden. The Knights signed Elvenes to a three-year, entry-level contract in June.
Golden Knights rookie camp - Day 2
The Golden Knights held their second day of rookie camp at City Arena in Las Vegas. Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal @bizutesfaye
Golden Edge: Deryk Engelland Rides With Kurt Busch
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond heads to city national arena and the Las Vegas Motor Speedway to see Kurt Busch attempt to learn how to play hockey, and Deryk Engelland hop in a race car.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
William Karlsson and the Golden Knights are headed to arbitration
Of all the salary arbitration cases in the NHL this summer, none is more compelling than the one involving William Karlsson and the Golden Knights. Karlsson is seeking $6.5 million annually in arbitration. The Knights countered with an offer of $3.5 million annually. Karlsson's arbitration hearing is scheduled for Saturday in Toronto. During the hearing, the player and team present evidence. The arbitrator then has 48 hours to render a decision, and the team decides on a one- or two-year contract. Karlsson’s agent and the Knights can continue to negotiate a new contract prior to the hearing.
Golden Edge: Floor Hockey Clinic
Bryan Salmond travels to the Paradise Recreational Center for the Las Vegas Golden Knights floor hockey clinic with special guest Golden Knights defenseman and Mark Messier Leadership Award winner Deryk Engelland.
Golden Edge: Off Season Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and sports columnist Ed Graney go over the Knights free angency and signing Marc-Andre Fleury.
Fleury on his three-year extension: To stay in Vegas a long time was big
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said he's glad he'll be a part of the team for a long time. Fleury spoke about signing a three-year contract extension at a news conference at the City National Arena in Las Vegas on Friday.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Thursday, July 5
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Golden Edge: Free Agency Update
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond and Golden Knights beat writer David Schoen go over the latest free agency news from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Golden Edge: Knights Host Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights second day of scrimmage at City National Arena.
Golden Edge: Prospects Prepare For Scrimmage
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Knights getting ready to participate in a scrimmage for the next few days.
Golden Edge: Previous Prospects Fight For Spot
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over day two of the Golden Knights development camp.
Golden Edge: One-On-One With Reid Duke
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond interviews Golden Knights prospect Reid Duke.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Wednesday, June 27
Golden Edge: Golden Knights Development Camp
Golden Edge host Bryan Salmond goes over the Golden Knights development camp and how the prospects are looking to improve their game.
Las Vegas Morning Update - Tuesday, June 26, 2018
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights
David Perron, James Neal set to leave Golden Knights Perron and Neal were key contributors on the second line for the Knights, helping the expansion team to the Pacific Division and Western Conference championships. Perron’s agent, Allan Walsh, told the Review-Journal on Sunday that the Knights have not made a new contract offer since the season ended. Neal turned down a five-year, $25 million offer from the Knights at the trade deadline, according to the Calgary Sun.
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like