Bill Foley got his man when he named George McPhee general manager of his Las Vegas National Hockey League franchise. That was the easy part.
Now the focus shifts to building the franchise from the ground up. A front office, coaching staff, scouting department, and eventually some players. Foley and McPhee have a long road ahead before the not yet named Las Vegas squad takes to the ice for the 2017-18 season.
McPhee sat down for a Q&A with Tal Pinchevsky at ESPN, and much of the conversation centred around the work involved with building an expansion franchise.
Here are a couple of highlights form McPhee’s Q&A.
On the process of finding a coach:
We haven’t even started [looking] and probably won’t until the new year There are lots of coaching changes in a season, so we want to take a look at what might be there later in the year.
A coach has to obviously understand the X’s and O’s, but more importantly he has to be someone the players really respect. Not only as a coach but as a person. You want a guy that’s a lot of things: smart, approachable, unflappable, confident, hard-working, organized, all of those things. Good with the community, good with the media. That’s the sort of thing we’ll be looking for.
While there’s no rush to tab a bench boss, McPhee has put the rush on assembling an amateur scouting staff with a September target in place.
We’ve got a heck of a lot of work to do. The expansion draft is just a couple of days before the entry draft. We’re almost doing these things simultaneously.
The only reason I’m trying to get the amateur staff in place right now is because there is an amateur tournament being played next month. So I wanted to get the amateur [scouts] in place first and then work on the pros and hopefully by September we’ve got them all in place.
There certainly hasn’t been a lack of interest in joining McPhee’s team. The former Washington Capitals GM estimated he’s received “600-700 texts, 300-400 emails, 60-70 phone calls,” from people looking to land a job in Las Vegas.
McPhee spent the 2015-16 in advisory role with the New York Islanders. The 58-year-old served as Capitals GM for 17 seasons before his dismissal in 2014. McPhee’s executive career began in Vancouver alongside Pat Quinn in 1992.
Read Pinchevsky’s Q&A with McPhee in its entirety here.