The London Knights are having themselves a changing of the guard.
The team announced today that General Manager Basil McRae would step away to accept a position with the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets as Director of Player Personnel.
Speaking with the media, McRae said it was a family decision to head to Ohio but was bittersweet about leaving London.
“We’ll be closer to our kids and our grandkids, but yet London, my wife was born and raised here so it’s always tough and we love London and it’s a great city!”
Simpson said he was at home when he got the call from Mark Hunter.
“Mark gave me a call and mentioned that he’d like to offer me the position,” Simpson said. “I might’ve been on my back deck at the time and it was just an exciting day for me and my family when that phone call came.”
Goldberg, who made his way into the organization as a volunteer, worked his way up to get where he is now.
A Western Law graduate, Goldberg brings a wealth of analytical experience to the team – something that Simpson praised profusely.
“Jake’s been working with us now for three years,” Simpson said. “The thing we learned very quickly about Jake is his work ethic and his knowledge of the game and he’s just always trying to improve and he brings a strong foundation in analytics.”
Goldberg himself realizes what his contributions will be and seems inspired to start working with some of the greatest hockey minds the CHL has to offer.
“Well, analytics is something that’s already been involved in the Knight’s decision making,” Goldberg stated. “But I’m looking to kind of take it to the next level.”
The next level?
“Right now the Knights are at the top – and everyone is trying to catch us so we have to keep building and innovating or else we’re not going to be able to keep that position so that’s what I’m trying to do here.”
For his part, McRae feels that with Simpson and Goldberg at the helm – Knights hockey is in the best of hands.
“As far as I’m concerned, there’s no one more qualified than Rob,” McRae said. “And Jake, it’s almost humbling to be around him – He’s such a smart guy and I’d hate to say it but you look at the National Hockey League and you look at Junior and Jake brings a lot of those things that we need to do to take the next step and stay ahead of the curb here in London.”
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With Simpson taking over – he’s already looking ahead, keeping an eye on a few potential lineup changes pending whether or not stars like Mitch Marner can make the cut into their respective NHL franchises.
“One of the things we’re trying to do is developing these players so they can make the NHL,” Simpson said. “If Mitch makes Toronto, obviously we’re going to move ahead as we did when Bo Horvat made the NHL or Olli Matta and the list of other players and we’ll be really excited for him.”
Until then, the question will remain – will the 2017 London Knights squad have it in them to possibly pull off a repeat as Memorial Cup Champions?
Stay tuned Knight’s fans.