George McPhee is back at the helm of an NHL team, and he’s ready for the challenge.
McPhee was named as the first-ever general manager for Las Vegas’ NHL expansion franchise on Wednesday afternoon. The former GM of the Washington Capitals joined Prime Time Sports shortly after to talk about his new job with the brand-new team.
“I really wanted to get back in. I really wanted to manage again,” said McPhee, who was let go by the Capitals in 2014 after 17 years with the club. “I thought this would be a great place to be able to do it, to start from the ground floor and do all the hirings and build the organization.”
As he gets reacquainted with the task of leading a franchise, he’ll also be getting to know a whole new city as he makes the move to Vegas.
“I can’t say that I know [the city], but the buzz here for this hockey team is pretty impressive,” said McPhee, adding that the arena is “amazing.”
“I just hope that if we put a real good product on the ice, that people are going to respond and enjoy it like it’s enjoyed in a lot of markets.”
“They’re a big-league city,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
McPhee credits Garth Snow for getting him back into the game — he joined Snow’s New York Islanders in an advisor role last season, and embraced the chance to get back to his hockey roots during that time.
“It was really fun again,” he said of his time scouting with the Islanders.
He also had the chance to spend more time with family and see his son, Graham, get drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft.
McPhee said he’s looking forward to working with team owner Bill Foley, and considers himself lucky to be back in the business as a GM.
“After I met Bill Foley, I thought, ‘Geez, I’d really like to work with this guy,'” he said. “He’s a no-nonsense guy. He’s going to be pushing, and everything else, but from everything I’ve heard about him, he really backs you up and backs his employees up. “
Now that the ink has dried on his deal, he’s ready to work with Foley to build a team from the ground up — and fast.
“I’d like to get two or three scouts in within the next week to 10 days,” McPhee said, citing the upcoming 2016 Ivan Hlinka tournament in August.
Next, he’ll flesh out more infrastructure positions — “scouting coordinator, capologists, analytics guys” — into September, followed by coaches and trainers in the new year.