George McPhee (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Las Vegas’ NHL franchise is still without a name, but even that may come before the team has a coach. Las Vegas GM George McPhee said the team hasn’t started its coaching search and he wants to wait to see if any coaching changes are made throughout the season.
At this time next year, the Las Vegas franchise will have a name, a roster and a full staff ready to lead the team into the 2017-18 season. As of right now, though, Las Vegas GM George McPhee is willing to take his time before selecting one of the most important members of the franchise: the team’s coach.
McPhee said during his introductory press conference that finding a coach wouldn’t be easy and that Las Vegas needed the coach, whoever it may be, to be able to instantly have the respect of the dressing room. Finding a coach who fits the bill is going to take some time, though, and while you may think Las Vegas is already well on their way to naming a bench boss, McPhee told ESPN’s Tal Pinchevsky that the search hasn’t begun quite yet.
“We haven't even started [looking] and probably won't until the new year,” McPhee told Pinchevsky. “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.”
McPhee told Pinchevsky that the first matters at hand are getting the scouting staff taken care of, with the primary focus being the assembly of an amateur scouting staff that can help the Las Vegas franchise build through the draft. McPhee said time and again during his introductory press conference that the only way the team would truly be successful was if they managed to put the pieces together on draft day, and his insistence on building a strong amateur scouting staff shows that wasn’t just talk on his end. There’s also a bit of a time crunch when it comes to building the scouting staff, too.
“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,” McPhee told Pinchevsky. “So I wanted to get the amateur [scouts] in place first and then work on the [pro scouts] and hopefully by September we've got them all in place.”
Having a strong base of amateur scouts will be important to the long-term success of the franchise, but the pro scouts may be able to make the most immediate impact if they can help McPhee build a strong club through the deep expansion draft.
One major positive for McPhee, though, is that it sounds as if he isn’t going to need to do too much digging to find people who want to come aboard and lend a hand to the Las Vegas franchise.
“I'll bet that I've had 600-700 texts, 300-400 emails, 60-70 phone calls,” McPhee told Pinchevsky. “It's been unreal.”
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