Vegas Golden Knights Add Second Assistant Coach, Hire Ryan Craig To Staff

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The Vegas Golden Knights are certainly using all available resources to build themselves a franchise for the coming year and hopefully many beyond as well. With that in mind at this current point in time, they seem to be doing just that as they look to add the right men to the job who can be easily relied upon and assisted by head coach Gerard Gallant.

This being said, just a day after having added Mike Kelly to the staff who will stand behind the club’s bench over the course of the season, general manager George McPhee went back out onto the market and landed yet another individual on Friday afternoon with the hiring of former NHL’er Ryan Craig.

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In order to fill this position on an everyday basis, Craig, 35, announced his retirement from the American Hockey League where he spent the 2016–17 season with the Cleveland Monsters who are in affiliation with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets.

Looking at the team captain’s numbers for his final season of play, Craig scored 11 goals to go alongside 11 assists and 22 points in a total of 71 regular season games played. During his tenure with the Monsters organization, formerly Lake Erie, Craig helped lead the team towards a Calder Cup championship in 2015–2016.

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In a statement regarding the news from head coach Gerard Gallant, he said, “I am proud to add Ryan as an assistant coach. He is well-respected in the hockey community and has been a tremendous leader throughout his playing career, both on and off the ice. I am confident that the leadership characteristics he exuded as a player will translate well behind the bench in his new role as an assistant coach.”

Much like both Gallant and Kelly, Craig, a native of Abbotsford, British Columbia, jumps in as yet another Canadian to join the club’s coaching staff which could be nearing it’s completion in the coming days, as Gallant informed the front office on Thursday evening.

As for the thoughts of Craig himself regarding his new position which means a new lifestyle and a new city too, he said, “I would like to thank Bill Foley, George McPhee, Gerard Gallant and the rest of the Golden Knights staff for this tremendous opportunity. I would also like to thank my family, former teammates and coaches for their continued support as I make the transition from a player to a coach. I look forward to the challenge and the excitement that this new phase in my career will bring.”

Craig last appeared at the big league stage in the National Hockey League back in 2014–15 with the Blue Jackets organization where he has spent the past two years since in their minor league system. During his final year of action which was played under the wing of head coach Todd Richards, Craig scored 32 goals to go alongside 31 assists, 63 points and 148 penalty minutes over a total of 198 career games played. Over the course of his 14 years in the NHL, Craig played for the Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.

Taking a quick peek at his time in the AHL, Craig played in a total of 711 games where he collected a total of 360 points to go alongside 172 goals, 188 assists and 554 penalty minutes. The Monsters would not be the only team Craig has been selected captain on as he also lead the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, Norfolk Admirals and the Springfield Falcons.

Speaking of the American Hockey League, it was suggested back in May by the Columbus Dispatch that John Madden, currently head coach of the AHL’s Cleveland Monsters, could be in the mix to be hired as an assistant coach, however, with Craig leaving the team after calling it quits, it would appear as if those conversations have pretty much come to an end, however, in the event of which he still does become Gallant’s final addition, that would be a rather familiar role for Madden, 43, who was in charge of coaching the defencemen and running the penalty kill. Much like Kelly and coach Gallant, Madden was also a member of the 2015–16 Panthers coaching staff.

As noted by Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review Journal, Craig does have ties to the NHL’s newest expansion franchise as he once played for Kelly McCrimmon, assistant GM of the Golden Knights, with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League during the junior portion of his hockey career where he was named the WHL and Canadian Hockey League Humanitarian of the Year in 2003.

Going back to his playing days which have now come to a close, Craig was originally selected by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the eighth round (255th overall) in the 2002 NHL Draft. He would later make his debut during the 2005–2006 season.

Craig and his wife Jaydee have a son, Carson (9) and daughters, Kylie (7) and Camryn (3).

With this hiring now in the books, it is still only the beginning of what could definitely be a very busy month with the NHL Awards just a few weeks away. The event will be held at the Golden Knights home of T-Mobile Arena on June 21 before they all head out to Chicago, IL, for the 55th editon of the NHL Entry Draft. This will take place on July 23rd at United Center, home of the Blackhawks, which will include the use of expansion lists with a new team on board and looking to fill their active roster.