For former NHL player Murray Craven, helping build Vegas Golden Knights is a golden opportunity – ESPN

 In Sports
LAS VEGAS — In a matter of months, former NHL player Murray Craven has gone from being the Montana-based golfing buddy of Bill Foley to calling Foley, the owner of the NHL’s newest expansion team, his boss. The 52-year-old Craven — who played 1,071 games for the Detroit Red Wings, Philadelphia Flyers, Hartford Whalers, Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks, and collected 759 points along the way — was a semi-retired hockey dad and businessman before he re-entered the game with a bang. Now, he oversees the building of a brand-new practice facility for the newly-minted Vegas Golden Knights, as well as getting his first taste of being an NHL scout.

I had sat down with Craven — who was officially named the 31st NHL franchise’s senior vice president in August — recently to talk about how he’s helping prepare the Golden Knights for their inaugural season next fall.

ESPN.com: How did you end up Montana?

Craven: I’m from Medicine Hat [Alberta]. Whitefish, Montana, was our vacation place. It’s a ski resort. And it’s beautiful. Skiing in the winter time. Great golfing and boating in the summer.

ESPN.com: How did you end up meeting Bill Foley?

Craven: Golfing. We belong to the same golf course there.

ESPN.com: Who’s better?

Craven: Me.

ESPN.com: How many strokes do you have to give him?

Craven: It’s kind of not fair. I have to give him quite a few now. He owns his own golf courses, though. He gets up there with the greens keeper and has the tees moved up to wherever it’s best for him. It’s not a fair fight anymore.

ESPN.com: Do you remember the moment that Foley said, “I’m thinking of putting an NHL team in Las Vegas. What did you think?”

Craven: I remember it distinctly. He pulled up in his boat at my dock. We were playing golf later that day. We chatted about golf and then, as he was pushing off, he said, “Oh, and by the way, I think I’m going to try and put a team in Las Vegas.” And I said, “You are out of your mind. They will never let you do it.” As I walked away, I said to myself, “I think he’s serious about this.”

At that point it was just an idea, even for him. And it gained momentum and slowly picked up speed — now we’re sitting here in Las Vegas.

Murray Craven was a first-round draft choice, selected No. 17 by the Red Wings in the 1982 NHL draft. He went on to play more than 1,000 games with Detroit, Philadelphia, Hartford, Vancouver, Chicago and San Jose. Elsa/Getty Images

ESPN.com: At what point did you go from providing advice as a friend and former player to being part of team?

Craven: We never talked about it that much, mostly because there was so much uncertainty about the whole thing. Everyone thinks this was kind of baked in the cake, that we were getting this thing a long, long time ago. It really wasn’t like that. It was always kind of, “We’ll kick it down the road until we get to that point.”

My role’s always evolving, and it will continue to. But, at the same time, I need to learn the management side of the game too. That’s my goal. I obviously have to get the practice facility built, and we have some American Hockey League responsibilities to take care of, and we have to get T-Mobile [Arena] all ready. And then, in between, in order for me to be involved in the conversations I have to know the players. My goal is to [scout] 10 games a month. Our regular scouts are going to see 20.

ESPN.com: Was the scouting part of the plan for you all along?

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