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Tag: Kelly McCrimmon (Page 1 of 2)

Another Side Of Reid Duke

Reid Duke has a good size chip on his shoulder after being drafted 169th overall in 2014 by the Minnesota Wild but not being offered a contract with the team. However, that chip pales in comparison to another event in Duke’s life which he had never talked about publicly until a recent interview with the Calgary Herald.

Engrossed in a period of deep concern over where his hockey career was going, Reid Duke received a phone call in the fall that would alter his life forever. It came five months ago Monday, with news his close uncle, Sheldon Reid, was one of four men who died in a plane crash that also killed former Alberta premier Jim Prentice. -Eric Francis, Calgary Herald

Duke’s uncle Sheldon was a major influence on his life as well as on his hockey development. Sheldon turned an old horse barn into a fully functional hockey rink in which Reid practiced hours a day growing up.

I spent thousands of hours there with my two brothers and Sheldon’s son, Dylan. It’s literally a horse barn. The Zamboni is parked in horse stalls, which is pretty cool. It’s just amazing the part he played in my life – he was a huge part of my career. -Reid Duke

His uncle was also crucial in motivating him to be the best hockey player he could possibly be.

He was such an amazing person. After that incident, it really made me focus on not taking anything for granted and really remembering everything he taught me and everything he would want for me. He wasn’t someone who would just come to hug and smile, he really, really pushed me, whether it was on or off the ice. -Duke

There’s no question the impact it had off the ice as during the media tour in Vegas, Duke found a way to work his family into answers to questions every time possible. He gave off a sense that it wasn’t just about him, it was about everyone who helped to get him to this point, especially his uncle, whom he never mentioned by name. I got that feel before knowing this story, now I really get it.

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If Nolan Patrick’s A Golden Knight, It’ll Be For Good Reason

Since the signing of Reid Duke, the entire Golden Knights fan base have been playing make-believe GM. The dream transaction almost every armchair general manager (including myself) wants to make, is drafting top rated prospect Nolan Patrick. By now, we’re all aware Nolan and Duke play together in Brandon, Manitoba. Patrick is currently projected first or second in most analysts mock drafts. Duke, who becomes the Golden Knights first signed player could also become the team’s first player ambassador.

Of course, we can’t expect Kelly McCrimmon to exchange all of his Brandon currency for Vegas gold but his influence could help. If he believes Patrick is worth trading future assets for, I’m sure his boss will listen. George McPhee wouldn’t just trade up for a splash, but we have to imagine McCrimmon’s opinion is heavily valued by the GM. Conspiracy nuts like myself and Alex Jones expect lottery shenanigans leading to Vegas magically getting the first pick, but the possibility of drafting four to six is real if the odds are legit.

McPhee will be having very serious conversations with all 30 GMs in the near future so he’ll know (he might already) what the price of moving up will be. Analysts like Craig Button and Bob McKenzie are both down on this year’s draft but that doesn’t mean a team will make trade-swapping easy on Vegas.

Now that we know the situation, we have to ask the obvious question, is trading up for Nolan Patrick is even worth it? The projected number one pick’s numbers are silly over the past three plus seasons in Brandon. In 28 games this season, the right-handed center has 42 points. Last year he posted 102 points in 72 games with a rating of +51. Out of Patrick’s 18 goals this season only a few are assisted by Duke. While both centers play many shifts on separate lines, they continuously show up together on Brandon’s lethal power play unit. The Wheat Kings are in the top half of the WHL, scoring 64 PP goals this season. Teaming up on special teams in Vegas could be one reason to reunite Duke and Patrick. 

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The Dark Knight Will Determine A Lot Of Golden Knights Successes Or Failures

Batman is one of the few superheroes that does not actually have a special power.

“He relies on his genius intellect, physical prowess, martial arts abilities, detective skills, science and technology, vast wealth, intimidation, and indomitable will,” or at least that’s what Wikipedia says.

He’s there to fight crime and save Gotham City from evil, but in every adaptation of the world’s most beloved fictional character, there’s a dark side, which earned him the nickname, the Caped Crusader, or more fitting for the topic of this website, the Dark Knight.

The Vegas Golden Knights have a Dark Knight of their own. His name is Kelly McCrimmon, and he’s the mastermind that has the ability to pull strings not many in NHL circles posses.

Ask someone who knows him, and without a question the word smart will be in the answer. Rather than physical prowess, martial arts abilities, and all the other crap that makes Batman, Batman, McCrimmon has his own set of skills. “Excellent talent evaluator,” “brilliant hockey mind,” “incredible work ethic,” “a real asset in the role he’s been cast in.” And I have a feeling that “indomitable will” is probably in there when it comes to helping the Golden Knights put a winning product on the ice.

McCrimmon is, the Dark Knight of Vegas hockey.

As the former GM and coach, and still the owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings of the WHL, McCrimmon has an understanding of junior Canadian hockey like few in the business.

Putting the pieces together, he’s likely the reason Bob Lowes, Raphael Pouliot, and Bruno Campese were hired as scouts, and probably had a direct connection to many more that don’t have as obvious of connectable dots. As far as players go, he’s one for one. The signing of Reid Duke is just the beginning of what’s likely to be a long line of players headed to Vegas directly off the recommendation of McCrimmon.

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A Deeper Look At Duke’s Skills

The Vegas Golden Knights have their very first player, his name is Reid Duke, and he’s just as excited as his new fanbase. The 21-year-old is currently on a whirlwind media tour that started with yesterday’s hour long media call, he joined a host of radio shows including our friends Tyler Bischoff and Coach Jim Bolla (interview begins at 39:15), and will join Ken today at 5pm on KXNT. The Brandon Wheat King forward spoke like an old pro, spitting back mature responses to the various questions we threw out at him. Now we know his age, his stats, his contract, but what should we expect from Duke on the ice with the Golden Knights?

Most hockey analysts immediately praised GM George McPhee on his first player acquisition. From all accounts the Wheat King had been scouted by many clubs over the past five seasons. Two-way forwards are incredibly valuable to an NHL team and could be one reason Vegas targeted Duke. During yesterday’s call, the young forward stressed the importance of becoming an effective all-around type player.

Friend of the site and Brandon Sun reporter Perry Bergson, covers the Wheat Kings and has seen Duke play on a consistent basis. The Sun reporter emailed me a few notes on Duke. Bergson was fair on his assessment giving positives and some negatives… but to appease Ken’s ridiculous expectations (he’s being sarcastic, relax) we will hold the negatives till later.

He’s a good player. He has a terrific toe drag and shot. He’s a thick kid who plays a heavy game. Very personable and mature. -Perry Bergson, Brandon Sun

Another good indication of Duke’s talent is Assistant GM McCrimmon’s desire to acquire him… again. In 2014, McCrimmon pulled off a lopsided deal to bring Duke to Brandon. After the trade McCrimmon was ecstatic saying it was “a major trade for our hockey club” and that Brandon picked up “a tremendously-talented forward with an excellent pedigree potential.” McCrimmon yesterday sounded like he’s still as impressed with Duke as he was back in 2014.

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First Golden Knight Ever! Reid Duke Signs With Vegas

Told you we wouldn’t have to wait until the Expansion Draft to learn the identity of the first player in Golden Knights history. The organization announced via press release they have signed 21-year-old Reid Duke to a three year entry level contract.

Reid Duke with AGM Kelly McCrimmon (Courtesy of Vegas Golden Knights)

Duke is currently playing on the Brandon Wheat Kings, the team still owned and formerly managed and coached by Vegas Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon.

Duke is a goal scorer racking up 35 goals this season in the WHL to lead the Wheaties. He’s also tallied 32 assists to lead the team as well. Last year he scored 33 goals which was good enough for third on the Wheat Kings behind Nolan Patrick (likely the first pick in this year’s draft) and Jace Hawryluk (drafted #32 by Florida in 2014).

He’s a highly skilled kid, and he always has been. He just has to play the game the right way in order to earn some of those opportunities. -Brad Bombardir, Minnesota Wild Director of Player Development

He’s 6’0″ 190 pounds and has been described as sound in all areas.

Duke is quickly developing into an ‘all-round’, responsible player in all three zones. The forward is responsible in the defensive end while still showing some creativity in the opponent’s end. He continues to show flashes of an elite skill set but hasn’t been able to display them consistently. –EliteProspects.com

Duke spends quite a bit of time in the box. 71 PIM in 54 games this season with the Wheat Kings, with a career high of 91 in 62 games with the Lethbridge Hurricanes in 2013-14.

He’ll finish out the season up in Brandon before heading to Vegas to take part in the team’s first Development Camp this Summer.

A joint press phone call with Duke and McPhee is scheduled for this afternoon, we’ll have more after the call. But for now, I’ll leave you with this…

Oh, and this.

Here’s a pretty nice highlight package courtesy of the Brandon Wheat Kings.

Golden Knights Likely To Sign First Player Well Before Expansion Draft

It’s been long considered that the first players to ever become Golden Knights will do so during the Expansion Draft in late June. The team will then participate in the Entry Draft on June 24th and 25th and in free agency on July 1st. However, the organization doesn’t appear is if they want to wait all the way until June to begin crafting their roster.

College free agents, 20 year old Canadian Junior Hockey (CHL) players, and even unsigned players from professional leagues in Russia (KHL), Sweden (SEL), Finland (Liiga), and many other leagues around the world, will be available to the Vegas Golden Knights months before the NHL allows them to raid the Original 30 rosters.

For the Golden Knights we can’t sign free agents yet, we are hopeful that we’ll be able to that March 1st when the final payments are made. We’re hoping that we can begin to sign players at that time. -Kelly McCrimmon, Assistant GM

And once that pesky “final payment” is made, McCrimmon doesn’t expect his staff to be hesitant.

It’s going to be a real high priority for our franchise and I think in turn it’s going to provide great opportunity for those players that we are able to sign. We’ve got two people dedicated entirely to scouting free agent players. We are not the only team in that market, but for us with an obvious need for young players and for prospects it’s going to be a real important time for us in terms of that process. -McCrimmon

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Kelly McCrimmon Extended Interview On The Pipeline Show

One of the most interesting people working for the Vegas Golden Knights is Kelly McCrimmon. The former head coach, GM, and owner of the Brandon Wheat Kings of Canada’s WHL signed on to be George McPhee’s right hand man, Assistant General Manager.

McCrimmon spent over two decades working with the Wheat Kings and when he came to Vegas he didn’t leave all behind in Brandon. He’s still the owner and the governor of the reigning WHL champions, while acting as the second highest ranking hockey official of the NHL’s newest team.

Guy Flaming, host of The Pipeline Show, a radio program dedicated to NHL prospects currently in the CJHL, USHL, and NCAA, had a chance to speak to the Golden Knights AGM and pried out a ton of excellent information.

**McCrimmon segment begins at 20:00**

McCrimmon Reading Up On Expansion Strategies

When this website began, one of the first things we did was start reading up on our history. As the saying goes, “Those who do not learn history are doomed to repeat it.” We examined the history of hockey in Las Vegas, the backgrounds of every person involved in the bid to bring hockey here, and most importantly the history of expansion franchises in the NHL.

For my money, the best resource for learning about the ins and outs of an NHL Expansion Draft is the book, “How To Bake An NHL Franchise From Scratch” by former Assistant GM of the Minnesota Wild, Tom Lynn. The book has it all, from the genesis of the team, to stories from the Expansion Draft war room, to contract discussions with players, it really describes the entire process Las Vegas is set to go through.

There have literally been more than 2o articles on this website that have come directly from that book, and we had the pleasure of speaking to Tom for more than an hour on a podcast. If you want to be an expert, it’s required reading.

That’s why I was pumped to find out a high ranking official with the Las Vegas organization has read the book and calls it a blueprint.

Assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon is leaving no stone unturned in doing the legwork to help Las Vegas GM George McPhee try to build a winner in Nevada, and that includes reading Lynn’s account of building the Wild. –Craig Custance, ESPN

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Put To Bed Those Kelly McCrimmon Head Coach Rumors

Head coach rumors have been swirling for months and have included names such as Claude Julien, Mike Kitchen, Craig Berube, and Travis Green, just to name a few. But here in Vegas, and specifically in conversations between those following the team closest, there was this crazy thought in the back of just about everyone’s minds.

What if the coach is already on the staff? What if that coach is the second hire on the staff? Could Assistant General Manager Kelly McCrimmon have been brought in not only to build the team, but then coach them in the inaugural season?

Well, you can stick a fork in that idea. Speaking on Sportsbook Radio with Brian Blessing (about 1:20 in), McCrimmon himself denied any thoughts of coaching the team in 2017-18.

I love coaching and we had lots of success in Brandon, so that part was real enjoyable. For me, I’ve changed gears with the opportunity to work on the management side in the NHL. I always find if you are really enjoying what you are doing and if you are stimulated by the challenge you tend not to miss what you left behind. So as much as I loved every minute of coaching the Brandon Wheat Kings I’m really enjoying what I’m doing right now and looking forward to contributing as much as I possibly can to help this team get started. So it’ll be a different coach than this one and I’m sure I’ll have a hand in the process of selecting the coach. -Kelly McCrimmon, AGM

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Okanagan Hockey Academy’s Bruno Campese Hired As Amateur Scout

We’ve got some more fresh blood on board, and this time there’s absolutely no connection to the Washington Capitals. Bruno Campese has been hired as an amateur scout likely to be focused on Western Canada and the Northwest United States.

From WHL Media Guide

From WHL Media Guide

Campese, a former goalie selected in the 12th round by the Boston Bruins, was most recently the head coach at the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, British Columbia, Canada. Prior to assuming that role he was the GM and/or head coach of the Prince Albert Raiders of the WHL from 2008-2015.

We can assume this was a Kelly McCrimmon hire based on his time spent competing against Campese with the Brandon Wheat Kings, also of the WHL.

During his time with the Raiders, Campese had two players drafted in the first round of the NHL draft, Josh Morrissey (#13 in 2013) and Mark McNeill (#18 in 2011).

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