Brandon, MB. – When the Brandon Wheat Kings open defence of their Western Hockey League Championship next month, Kelly McCrimmon will not be on the bench.
The winningest coach in franchise history, who has spent the better part of the last three decades as the driving force behind the Wheat Kings, has confirmed that he will be joining the new National Hockey League franchise in Las Vegas as the team’s new Assistant General Manager.
A 3-time winner of the Canadian Hockey League and WHL Executive of the Year, McCrimmon joined the Wheat Kings in 1988 and was named general manager the following year. He purchased one-third ownership of the team from partner Bob Cornell in 1992 and assumed sole ownership in 2000. As the club’s Owner and General Manager, he has led the Wheat Kings to more wins than any other team in the Canadian Hockey League since 1992, including fifteen seasons of forty or more wins, ten Eastern Division pennants and six Eastern Conference Championships. As well, he has been instrumental in four Memorial Cup appearances, including two as WHL Champion after winning in both 1996 and 2016.
As a coach, McCrimmon has compiled a 423-223-36-38 record and over the course of the past ten seasons he has posted an impressive .640 winning percentage.
“Kelly is an outstanding hockey man and we are delighted to have him join us,” says George McPhee, General Manager of the Las Vegas club that will begin play in the NHL in 2017-18. “His extensive experience and consistently high level of performance in the game will help us build a strong and successful organization and team. His hockey acumen, character and work ethic are perfect for us.”
“This is a dream job for any hockey executive and one I feel very fortunate to have been offered,” says McCrimmon. “The chance to build a team, an organization from the ground up, the chance to develop an identity and establish a culture will be challenging, invigorating and rewarding.”
A member of the WHL Board of Governors Executive Committee for six years and Chairman of the Competitions Committee, McCrimmon says that more news on the club’s new organizational structure will be announced later this week.
McCrimmon also used Tuesday’s announcement to deliver an important message to western Manitoba hockey fans.
“Our family will continue to own the hockey club,” says McCrimmon. “I look forward to offering leadership, guidance and resources for the team to continue to be successful. The strength of our organization is the people and we will have some announcements soon with respect to the open positions.
A 55-year old native of Plenty, Saskatchewan, McCrimmon played two seasons in Brandon in the late seventies and was a member of the 1979 WHL Championship club before moving on to the University of Michigan from 1980-84, serving as team captain during his senior year.
The Wheat Kings, who defeated Seattle in May to capture their third Ed Chynoweth Cup and first in twenty years, are scheduled to open up training camp August 30th at Westman Communications Group Place. The club will kick off the 2016-17 regular season with a weekend home and home series with Moose Jaw on September 23rd-24th.