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Ryan Craig Introduced as Silver Knights New Coach

Steve Marcus

Henderson Silver Knights new head coach Ryan Craig, center, poses with Kelly McCrimmon, left, general manager of the Vegas Golden Knights, and Tim Speltz, general manager of the Henderson Silver Knights, during a news conference at Dollar Loan Center in Henderson Friday, June 30, 2023.

Having been an assistant for three different coaches in six years, surely Ryan Craig has had to have picked up some advice along the way.

The one tidbit he learned most was about himself.

“I have to be Ryan Craig, the coach,” he said. “I have to be myself.”

Craig gets that opportunity now as the new head coach of the Henderson Silver Knights. The longtime Golden Knights assistant was introduced as the second coach in team history on Friday, replacing Manny Viveiros after three seasons.

The 41-year-old Craig returns to the American Hockey League where he carved out a role as a leader during a 14-year professional playing career. Craig played 711 games and was a captain for nine AHL teams, including the Lake Erie Monsters with whom he won the Calder Cup with in 2016.

He retired from playing after the 2017 season and joined Gerard Gallant’s staff at 35 years old. He was tasked with coaching the power play and the forward group.

“I think two weeks in, (Gallant) said, ‘you can have the power play. You can handle that,’” Craig said. “I started upstairs, and came down about 20 games in, he said, ‘you have the power play, and now we’re going to need you on the bench.’”

That area of focus has been a constant for Craig, even when the Golden Knights replaced Gallant in January 2020 with Pete DeBoer, and then pivoting to Bruce Cassidy last season.

Now, Craig gets his chance to be “in a different chair,” as he called it. He’s still finding time to process everything.

The Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup over two weeks ago and Craig was hoisting it at center ice inside T-Mobile Arena. Two days later, Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon and Silver Knights general manager Tim Speltz began the process of looking for Viveiros’ replacement.

It didn’t take long to realize Craig was the guy for the job.

“As it worked itself through, there were multiple conversations between Kelly and myself, Tim and myself,” Craig said. “Everybody came back to the conclusion that it was the right time, the right opportunity.”

Craig takes over a Silver Knights team that missed the Calder Cup Playoffs for the first time last season and finished ninth in the Pacific Division.

Top prospects Brendan Brisson and Lukas Cormier just completed their first full professional season, while defenseman Kaedan Korczak is expected to challenge for an NHL roster spot at training camp this fall.

Craig isn’t walking into a situation where he’s unfamiliar with most of the roster. He’s crossed paths with some of them in stints with Vegas, including Jonas Rondbjerg and Silver Knights captain Brayden Pachal.

“I think it’s a huge help,” McCrimmon said. “We’ve had a lot of HSK players come up this year that played with the big team. I think he’s got a level of familiarity. He’s his own man. He’s going to put his own stamp on things.”

As for Craig’s replacement, McCrimmon said he and Cassidy have had discussions, but with the quick transition to the hire along with the NHL Draft this week, nothing has been worked on as of yet.

“I expect we won’t take long to finalize the VGK staff, but at the same time, it takes what it takes,” McCrimmon said.

There’s always a discussion about players and their journey to the NHL. Coaches are no different, whether a veteran in the league, or relatively new like Craig is.

He hasn’t had time to reflect on everything since the Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup, but said it’s a humbling experience that he wouldn’t have been in if not for the support of his wife Jaydee and three kids — son Carson, and daughters Kylie and Camryn.

“The journey’s not over. This is part of the journey,” Craig said. “I’ve been in the game for a long time, even though I’m only 41. But the person I am is because of those people.”

Danny Webster can be reached at 702-259-8814 or [email protected]. Follow Danny on Twitter at twitter.com/DannyWebster21.

Article written by #LasVegasSun

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