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McPhee keeps Golden Knights’ band together with McCrimmon as GM

Updated May 2, 2019 - 5:22 pm

LDRSHIP is an acronym for the seven basic values of the United States Army. The first letter stands for loyalty.

Important fact: The Golden Knights had to promote Kelly McCrimmon to general manager or risk losing him.

More important one: They wanted to keep him like nobody’s business.

I’m not sure the level by which owner Bill Foley’s love and devotion for all things West Point has translated to how George McPhee runs hockey operations, but in elevating his assistant to a lead manager’s role, McPhee on Thursday allowed for an organizational structure to continue its exceptional mode of execution.

Other teams had identified McCrimmon as one they hoped to pursue as a GM.

He was a hotter commodity for some than gold mining stocks.

So, as the children’s song goes, McPhee as president of hockey operations stepped up and kept the band together.

He paints the relationship as a permanent sense of consonance.

“We haven’t disagreed on anything,” McPhee said.

I believe him. There is no way he is that good an actor.

It’s also the sort of stability another major professional sports team in Las Vegas could emulate.

Make that soon-to-be sports team in Las Vegas.

A year from now, the Raiders will have officially taken up residence in Southern Nevada and, like the Knights, will have a general manager who, while respected for his institutional knowledge of his respective sport, doesn’t have the last word on roster transactions.

Mike Mayock wasn’t thought to have much power at all when hired by coach Jon Gruden, but how the recently concluded NFL draft was handled by both suggests a far more collaborative tandem than originally forecast.

Still, if the final seconds of a trade deadline are approaching with a potential deal on the table or a draft pick must be submitted in the next minute and different options are being discussed, Gruden will have final say for the Raiders and McPhee the Knights.

Which doesn’t mean both franchises can’t have incredibly influential general managers.

One of the best things about how McPhee has run the Knights goes to the part about the only true measure of success being the ratio between what you might have done and what you might have been.

He knows what they have done in two years, advancing to a Stanley Cup Final as an expansion team and following such history with a playoff appearance this season. It’s a credit to McPhee that he didn’t want to know how things might have been had he let McCrimmon walk.

As much control as McPhee holds with the Knights — he seems to decide everything down to the type of wax used to detail players’ cars — far more voices are allowed to be heard in the room than just his.

He has obviously afforded McCrimmon a strong one, and when you consider the level of success two men who didn’t meet for the first time until July of 2016 in a Vienna airport have produced, splintering the relationship after such a remarkably fast ascent wouldn’t be the wisest course.

McCrimmon’s opinion and expertise matters to McPhee, and that’s everything.

Media rejoices

So the Knights held off reported suitors such as Edmonton and an expansion side in Seattle, and McCrimmon will now attend the league’s GM meetings and be the team’s point of contact for all NHL managers.

He will also conduct those press conferences that McPhee previously (begrudgingly?) held, and yet I’m not sure which side (the media or McPhee) is happier about it.

OK, so I sort of know which side.

“Kelly’s had both feet in the whole time,” McPhee said. “There was never a moment that I detected that he had one foot in and one foot out. What was important for me was that there were no disruptions to our staff … I’d rather keep the band together and, in this instance, it was easy, because Kelly is more than ready to be an outstanding general manager …

“You’re not going to outwork him. He never has a bad day … He’s the whole package for me. I thought the organization made a really good decision three years ago and made an even better one today to make sure he’s here long term.”

The R in LDRSHIP stands for respect.

The Knights had to promote Kelly McCrimmon.

Better yet, they wanted to.

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 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. Monday through Friday. Follow @edgraney on Twitter.

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