Watching with keen interest as Bill Foley attempts to put an NHL team in Las Vegas is a former NHLer who has known the businessman for 15 years.
Murray Craven, who played 1,071 regular-season NHL games with Detroit, Philadelphia, Hartford, Vancouver, Chicago and San Jose, has Foley’s ear when it comes to hockey matters and could very well be part of the management structure if and when the NHL dream comes true in Vegas.
"Obviously when he started exploring his hockey team, I’ve been in contact with Bill and we’ve talked about different things," Craven told ESPN.com on Thursday. "That’s where my involvement is right now, much like the franchise itself, it’s moving forward but still exploratory."
Foley told ESPN.com’s Scott Burnside that he expects Craven will be a "close advisor."
"We haven't gotten to jobs," Foley later added.
That’s because there’s no team yet, and no guarantee of a franchise from the NHL at this point, so nobody is trying to get the cart in front of the horse.
But with a season-ticket drive in the offing to gauge fan interest in Las Vegas, Foley’s dream has taken an important baby step. (A website has also been set up to gauge interest in bringing a team to Vegas.)
And if Foley does get a team, Craven would certainly be interested in being part of that administration.
"We’ve talked about that type of thing, it would interest me," said Craven, who retired in Whitefish, Montana, after his playing career was over in 2000. "But one thing I’ve learned from Bill over the years, until everything is certain, I mean, we haven’t talked about what my role would be, it’s all preliminary at this point. Until they have a firm commitment, Bill is of the mind that there’s no use talking about that kind of stuff until we know whether we’re going to get this team or not."
For now, Craven is there to have his hockey brain picked by Foley.
"I’ve shared with him what my thoughts are regarding the game, we’ve talked about different structures of management and a little bit about what it takes to put a team together mostly on the hockey operations side of things, that’s what our discussions have been about," said Craven, who had 13 points in 22 playoff games on Vancouver’s 1994 squad that went to the Cup finals.
"Beyond that, would I like to be involved? Definitely. But we’ll see what happens first."
Craven described Foley has a super successful business mogul who is now excited to extend that to hockey.
"People always ask me, why would he buy a hockey team? And I always counter, why wouldn’t you?" Craven said. "I mean, if you have the financial ability to own a pro sports team, I can’t even understand why anyone would ask the question, it would be the most fun thing to do."
First things first, the season-ticket drive in Las Vegas.
"It’s going to be interesting moving forward, for sure," Craven said. "Not only Bill, but the Maloofs are very excited about the prospect of them being able to get this season-ticket drive under way, gauging the interest, and really rallying the city around and being the first professional team there. That’s critical in their plans and I think it’s so necessary that the whole city buys into it and takes ownership of the team as far as the community."