Kelly McCrimmon turns down Leafs, stays on with WHL's Brandon Wheat Kings

The Wheat Kings won the WHL regular-season title under McCrimmon this season (WHL.ca)
The Wheat Kings won the WHL regular-season title under McCrimmon this season (WHL.ca)

It is a good rule of thumb to move up for the right opportunity, not just any opportunity. Apparently, Brandon Wheat Kings coach, general manager and owner Kelly McCrimmon is operating on the principle that if he's cut out to work in the NHL, then an other chance will come along in due time.

There has been weeks of speculation that McCrimmon would be the Toronto Maple Leafs' latest hire out of major junior hockey. However, on Monday, TSN's Darren Dreger reported that the 54-year-old McCrimmon is staying with the Wheat Kings, who are pegged as the early favourite to win the WHL next season, when the Memorial Cup will be held two provinces away in Red Deer. The Wheat Kings confirmed it.


From the team's release:

The WHL’s Executive of the Year in 2014-15, McCrimmon had discussed a management position with the National Hockey League’s Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I have made the decision to remain with the Wheat Kings,” says McCrimmon. “I was honoured to have been considered for a position with the Maple Leafs. It would have been a tremendous opportunity.”

“With our team expected to contend this season, I felt I owed it to the group to stay here and try to help us take the next step,” McCrimmon went on to say. (WHL)

There probably is more to it than the spin that McCrimmon is staying to finish the job that he began when he started rebuilding the Wheat Kings, accumulating a strong 1996-birthdate cohort and bright young players such as Nolan Patrick and Kale Clague. If Ivan Provorov is returned to junior after becoming a high NHL first-round pick, they will be formidable, and the fact that this upcoming season ends with a WHL Memorial Cup is just another carrot.

The Wheat Kings are a storied franchise, but haven't won a league title since 1996 and have never won a Memorial Cup. McCrimmon's business is Brandon, so one can see why he'd like to remedy that gap in the legacy. If that's accomplished, the chance to go to the next level will come along again, since it usually does for Memorial Cup-winning coaches sooner rather than later.

Neate Sager is a writer for Yahoo! Canada Sports. Follow him on Twitter @naitSAYger.

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