Kelly McCrimmon still has phone meetings with his staff. He still has occasional business to attend to.
But a lot of the Golden Knights’ general manager’s days in the Edmonton, Alberta, secure zone have been filled with hockey, hockey and more hockey. The unique nature of this NHL postseason means McCrimmon doesn’t have to travel far to watch other teams, and he’s taken full advantage.
“It’s been a chance to get to know 11 other Western Conference teams (that came to Edmonton) inside and out,” McCrimmon said Thursday. “Those are really good opportunities to watch and enjoy a game, but obviously, at the same time, evaluate personnel. Watch how teams use their players in certain situations. That’s been a real enjoyable, valuable piece of this whole process.”
McCrimmon said in a normal postseason he catches “bits and pieces” of other playoff series. This year, however, the entire Western Conference is at his fingertips.
McCrimmon can walk from the JW Marriott where the team is staying to Rogers Place and catch games. It’s helped him get a better feel for what his pro scouting staff has reported on each team. And it’s provided him with plenty of information.
“It’s a home run in many respects because I’m seeing it live, so that part is different,” McCrimmon said. “In this situation, you’re immersed in every series, at least in the Western Conference. I find that I haven’t paid as much attention to the Eastern Conference playoffs because the games here are live and I can go watch them. I think that’s been a real advantage for us.”
McCrimmon also thinks, as he watches all these games, that teams are adjusting to the “new normal” that is bubble hockey.
“As different as it might have seemed originally for no fans there in warmup, no fans during the games, I think it’s becoming a little more normal,” McCrimmon said. “I really have seen intensity in the games, not only our own games but other series.”
Games should get even more intense when the Western Conference semifinals begin next week.
“You’re going to see some really good hockey as we move along,” he said.
McCrimmon on Hawerchuk
McCrimmon said he didn’t know Dale Hawerchuk, a Hall of Fame player who died Tuesday from stomach cancer at age 57, well. But he remembers Hawerchuk, who also coached in the junior Ontario Hockey League for nine seasons, as an “underrated superstar.”
Hawerchuk played for the Winnipeg Jets from 1981 to 1990 and scored 929 points in 713 games.
“Being from western Canada, he would be a guy that I would have paid extra attention to,” McCrimmon said. “You can tell by the reaction the sporting community and the community at large that he was held in tremendously high regard.”