Golden Knights elevate McCrimmon to GM role

The Vegas Golden Knights have promoted Kelly McCrimmon to general manager and George McPhee will remain in his role as president of hockey operations, it was announced Thursday.

McCrimmon, who previously served as assistant general manager, was one of the hottest GM candidates in the league. He drew interest from the Edmonton Oilers, and sources told ESPN that he would have been a front-runner for the expansion Seattle team.

"Together they have constructed a championship-caliber team in a very short time," Golden Knights owner Bill Foley said of McPhee and McCrimmon in a statement. "This personnel move ensures that our hockey operations group stays intact and positions our organization for long-term success."

The new role for McCrimmon will take effect Sept. 1.

"Sure, the motivation [for] me thinking this was the possibility of Kelly leaving," McPhee said of the promotion for McCrimmon. "There's no doubt in my mind that, if interviewed, Kelly would have been a manager someplace else. So why not do it here? He deserves this, and he's ready for it."

The Golden Knights said McCrimmon will represent the team at the league's GM meetings and be the point of contact for other NHL general managers. He will report to McPhee, who will continue to be responsible for all hockey operations decisions.

McPhee said the unusual structure of the management team, with McCrimmon as the general manager but McPhee as the ultimate decision-maker, should function fine because they've "co-managed" the team since its inception.

"Every organization has its own structure," McPhee said. "Our command structure has been perfect, I believe. I told Kelly when I was trying to hire him that he would be involved in every single thing that we do here. And the first thing we did was divvy up the teams. I took 15 NHL teams. He took 15 NHL teams. We dealt with them all year. We shared everything, and basically co-managed for three years.

"I've been a general manager for 20 years. That's a long time. I spoke to my wife about it, spoke to my family about it. I don't know if I would have done this for anyone else, but it's easy to do when it's the right thing. This was the right thing for the Golden Knights. I'm proud to do this. Kelly's going to be terrific at it. And we just keep rolling along here."

McCrimmon, 58, was named Vegas' assistant general manager in August 2016. Many around the NHL pointed to him as a key voice in scouting and evaluation for the Golden Knights' wildly successful expansion draft.

The Golden Knights opened the 2017-18 season with 200-1 odds to win the Stanley Cup -- the longest in the league -- and became the first NHL team to make the postseason in its inaugural season since the Oilers and Whalers merged from the WHA in 1979-80, when just five of the league's 21 teams didn't make the playoffs.

The Golden Knights lost to the Washington Capitals in last year's Stanley Cup Final. They again made the playoffs in 2019 but were eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the first round.

McCrimmon is the longtime owner, general manager and coach of the Western Hockey League's Brandon Wheat Kings. McPhee had previously served as the general manager of the Capitals.

ESPN's Greg Wyshynski contributed to this report.