Here’s a great article from Matthew Coller on WGR 550 about former Rochester American and Buffalo Sabre’s defenseman Jay McKee who is adjusting to life behind the bench as a coach. It’s still way too early to say how he’s doing but from having watched many practices this season he’s always engaged and a big part of what goes on. The only issue some Amerks fans may have who sit near the bench is that Jay McKee is too tall and makes some seats “obstructed view” view at times. Tough issue to have isn’t it?
Who better to teach the defense than McKee? He wasn’t just Mr. Tough Guy, he was also a leader. McKee was an alternate captain on the ’06 squad and remembered in Buffalo for leading by example.
“It is not my goal or intent to make all of the defenseman into shot blockers,” McKee joked with Sabres’ GM Darcy Regier at the press conference to announce his hiring. “As a player moving into the coaching aspect of things, there’s certainly a lot to learn.”
That’s where he stands now: behind the Amerks’ bench, towering over head coach Ron Rolston and assistant Chad Cassidy.
“There are times when I wish I could jump out there on the ice,” McKee says after a 3-1 loss to the Adirondack Phantoms. “But, hey, I’m grateful for the opportunity to be part of the game.”
It’s nice to be part of the game, but just like McKee’s playing days he’s being asked to produce. If you’re wondering, the great expectations set by Pegula’s Cup credo extend to Rochester. Not only did Pegula say the goal for the Amerks is to win the Calder Cup, but the Sabres are also placing some pretty valuable merchandise in his hands. Top defensive prospect Brayden McNabb is a McKee look-alike and blue liners T.J. Brennan, Drew Schiestel and Dennis Persson all project as future NHLers.