The Stanley Cup playoffs captured the attention of millions of television viewers with the Cinderella story of the first-year expansion team Golden Knights squaring off against the Washington Capitals.
Though the Capitals won the cup, the contest brought the Knights into the spotlight.
At the helm of the exciting series was General Manager George McPhee NLAW ‘92, who is credited with the rise of the record-breaking Golden Knights.
The Sporting News noted that the Knights became only the third team in NHL history to make it to the conference finals during its inaugural season.
McPhee’s accomplishments – which have been widely written about in sports news outlets – were touted by Rutgers Magazine last year. The close series is even more storied, since before going to the Golden Knights, McPhee was general manager of the Washington Capitals from 1997 to 2014, the rival team in the Stanley Cup.
“An NHL player for seven seasons with the New York Rangers and the New Jersey Devils before enrolling in law school at Rutgers – an education, he says, that really prepared him for the rigors of business management – McPhee knows what it takes for a player to succeed in the National Hockey League, which has exploded in popularity and has thus allowed the game to prosper in the most unlikely of regions in the United States, be it Phoenix, Nashville, Tampa Bay, or, now, Las Vegas,” noted David W. Major in Rutgers Magazine, in January.
CBS Columnist Pete Blackburn credited McPhee with much of the team’s success in a pre-Stanley Cup column, “Well, their general manager was really smart about it. He made smart picks, and he also convinced a couple of teams to trade him additional players (or draft picks) as part of an agreement to not select certain unprotected players.”
Sports Illustrated may have captured it best with its article about McPhee’s involvement in both teams, and an analysis of his management strategy and personality traits that have helped to make him a success.
Though McPhee’s professional life takes him all over the world for hockey, McPhee spoke to Rutgers alumni at the Prudential Center in Newark on March 4 when the Knights squared off against the NJ Devils. He toured the Grammy Museum, took questions from alumni, and spoke to the group before the game started, which was organized by the Rutgers University Alumni Association.