It has been quite a year for George McPhee. In less than 12 months, he has had a consulting role with the New York Islanders, seen his son get drafted and then became the general manager of Las Vegas, the NHL's newest franchise. Now the real work starts as McPhee looks to build a competitive team from scratch -- just as soon as he sorts through the mountain of resumes on his desk. He spoke with ESPN.com recently over the phone from his office in Las Vegas.
ESPN.com: How hectic have things been since you were announced as the team's GM on July 13?
George McPhee: We're trying to get a little infrastructure here in place. When I do that, then I'd like to build out the amateur scouting side of the organization. That would be the first priority, and then pro scouts and then we're going to have other things.
ESPN.com: So is being ready for that first amateur draft the top priority?
GM: We've got a heck of a lot of work to do. The expansion draft is just a couple of days before the entry draft. We're almost doing these things simultaneously. The only reason I'm trying to get the amateur staff in place right now is because there is an amateur tournament being played next month. So I wanted to get the amateur [scouts] in place first and then work on the pros and hopefully by September we've got them all in place.
ESPN.com: How many resumes have you received so far?
GM: I'll bet that I've had 600-700 texts, 300-400 emails, 60-70 phone calls. It's been unreal. What's difficult is you let people know you'll get back to them when we get organized. If they haven't heard from you in a week, they start texting and emailing again.
ESPN.com: Do you have any NHL Vegas memories of your own?
GM: My first trip was with the Vancouver Canucks [as director of hockey operations]. Pat Quinn just wanted the team to have a break on one of our trips. I was amazed then at the Strip. At all the activity and how beautiful the buildings were and the hotels. Once we got here, we didn't see the players for two days. As a staff, we had some great dinners. We actually saw Anne Murray in concert -- Canadians watching a Canadian. I think the best experience here was actually a family vacation. The league was having GM meetings at Lake Las Vegas so I came out earlier with my wife and my first two kids. It might have been one of the best vacations we've ever had. [My kids] were at that age where you could take them to different hotels with different themes, whether it was the tigers at one place or the aquariums at another. Taking them to a magician show or taking my daughter to "Mama Mia." My kids had a blast.
ESPN.com: How'd your daughter like "Mama Mia"?
GM: She loved it. She was jumping up and down in her chair and my son was sleeping.
ESPN.com: Your son, Graham, was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers in the fifth round in June, just a couple of weeks before you got the Vegas job. You were there as a father but also as an adviser for the Islanders. How was that experience?
GM: The McPhees have had a very nice summer. Going to the draft with one of your own is very unique. They still feel so young to you. Then having them drafted, you're really happy for them. I'm really proud of him. The message was simple: You don't want that to be the closest you ever get to the NHL. Now you get to work.
ESPN.com: Was it painful watching him have to wait to hear his name?
GM: You don't want them to have to wait too long. I think mentally he was prepared for it but, like all kids, they're nervous before the draft and they just want someone to like them. It's one of those experiences I'll never forget. As a father, the whole thing is kind of a whirlwind because I was working with the Islanders and was at their table for most of the draft before I went up and sat with my son. Then a few days later, we were home and my son is already off at Boston College and I walked by his room and there is an Oilers jersey hanging from his door. Holy cow. This kid that still feels like a young boy is an NHL draft pick.
ESPN.com: Making the past month even more emotional, your old coach at Bowling Green, Ron Mason, passed away barely two weeks before the draft.
GM: That was a stunner. That was a real setback for a lot of people. It was just so unexpected. I just told my wife, 'I've got to go, I've got to get there [to Lansing, Michigan, for the funeral].' And I'm glad I did. That's a big loss. He was an outstanding hockey man. What was really neat about him is while you were playing for him, you were his player and the day you graduated you were his friend. He liked to have a beer with you and he was a good man.
ESPN.com: What is it you'll be looking for in a coach in Las Vegas?
GM: We haven't even started [looking] and probably won't until the new year. There are lots of coaching changes in a season, so we want to take a look at what might be there later in the year. A coach has to obviously understand the X's and O's, but more importantly he has to be someone the players really respect. Not only as a coach but as a person. You want a guy that's a lot of things: smart, approachable, unflappable, confident, hard-working, organized, all of those things. Good with the community, good with the media. That's the sort of thing we'll be looking for.
ESPN.com: Have other GMs contacted you about staying away from their players in the expansion draft?
GM: I called [Islanders GM] Garth Snow to say, "Thanks for everything, it was a great experience and you really helped me get the other GM job." He said, "Just remember that during the expansion draft." Then he said, "Now that you're back to being a manager, I can't wait to see you look old again."