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Las Vegas NHL expansion team hires McPhee as GM

George McPhee has been hired as general manager of the NHL’s expansion Las Vegas franchise, according to a person with direct knowledge of the decision.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because owner Bill Foley’s announcement news conference isn’t set until Wednesday afternoon.

McPhee will be in charge of building the team from scratch to begin play in the 2017-18 NHL season.

McPhee most recently served as special adviser to New York Islanders GM Garth Snow. Before that he spent 16 seasons as GM of the Washington Capitals.

As the Capitals’ GM, McPhee oversaw a complete rebuild around star winger Alex Ovechkin that led to the team making six consecutive playoff appearances before he was fired in 2014.

McPhee has a strong history of drafting and developing players, and his extensive NHL experience earned him the position over younger candidates. Before taking over the Capitals, McPhee was vice president and director of hockey operations for the Vancouver Canucks, who made the Stanley Cup Final in 1994.

The 58-year-old from Guelph, Ontario, helped construct back-to-back gold-medal winners for Canada at the past two world hockey championships. His duties with the Islanders included scouting, which will be one of his primary jobs next season in preparation for the launch of the still-unnamed Las Vegas franchise.

The NHL’s board of governors unanimously approved the expansion team for a fee of $500 million during its meeting in Las Vegas in late June. The team can begin making transactions in June 2017, and it will also take part in an expansion draft that month.

Las Vegas will play in the Pacific Division in the Western Conference as the league’s 31st team.

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