As the owner, general manager and head coach of the Brandon Wheat Kings, Kelly McCrimmon wears many hats. He’s had three different stints as their head coach. The first starting way back in 1990. McCrimmon must be doing something right after back to back trips to the WHL championship series and a win percentage over .700 in four of the last six seasons.
“He wants to develop players.” said Wheat Kings forward Tim McGauley. “He’s really great at that. He won’t scream at you but when you need to be screamed at he’ll let you know.”
McCrimmon, 55, has been involved in all three of the Wheat Kings’ WHL championships in one facet or another. He was a player on the Wheatties first championship team in 1979. He was the general manager when they won the title in 1996 and here in 2016 he won his first as a head coach.
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“He’s a great coach.” Wheat Kings forward John Quenneville said. “It’s been an amazing journey with him. I’ve really enjoyed my time. I’ve learned so much and he’s been an absolutely great mentor for me and the rest of my teammates.”
But the story of the Wheat Kings magical season almost had a very different beginning. Rewind 11 months to last June when McCrimmon made the difficult decision to turn down an NHL job with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I didn’t want to have regrets that I’d let anyone down at this end, in terms of our players because they certainly had high expectations.” said McCrimmon.
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Win or lose this week in Red Deer, McCrimmon believes in his heart he made the right decision.
“If we would have lost that series I wouldn’t have called it the wrong decision. It was the decision that I made.” McCrimmon said. “The fact that it turned out we won the championship I don’t think validates it or anything else.”
And the only thing missing now is McCrimmon’s and the Wheat Kings’ first Memorial Cup title.
“Crimm is the founder.” said Quenneville. “And he’s really the guy who made this all happen here in Brandon.”