Just hours after the news broke that a coaching change was made in Kitchener, general manager Mike McKenzie spoke with CTV News at The Aud. With the Rangers on a four-game losing streak, McKenzie relieved McKee of his duties on Monday.
When speaking with CTV about Jay McKee being let go from the team, the OHL executive said, “Jay is obviously a good person, a good coach and someone I consider a friend so it’s not a fun day.”
McKee was brought on in Kitchener as an associate coach back in 2015, but after head coach Mike Van Ryn called it quits, McKee was promoted in his second year with the team. Since then, the road has been a bright one as the Rangers have seen plenty of postseason action ever since.
However, that does go without saying that it’s been rough as of late for the hockey club as they have not only dropped their last four, but they lost 10 of their last 12 as well. With this being said, there are no immediate plans for a new head coach which will allow GM Mike McKenzie to take McKee’s spot on an interim basis.
McKee, who became the Rangers fourth head coach since 2013, spent three-plus seasons with the organization where he recorded 120 wins. Because of the success he had, McKee walks away in the record books as the fifth winningest coach in Kitchener Rangers history.
McKee, a junior hockey coach who is also a former NHL’er, led the Rangers to three playoff appearances before getting the call from McKenzie on Monday. Speaking of Kitchener’s playoff stints, the organization, after clinching the playoffs, was eliminated twice from Robertson Cup contention during the opening round of the postseason.
That would bring us closer to where the Rangers are seated today as they are last in the Western Conference with just seven wins in addition to 10 losses. This is also the case after having played in 21 games total.
McKee, a former Erie Otters associate, has watched his team only net six goals, this being compared to the goals scored against them which during this stretch has hit a dreadful 18. When speaking about the decision to give McKee the hook now rather than later, McKenzie told CTV, “But it’s part of the job and at the end of the day, my loyalty is to the Kitchener Rangers organization and making sure that we’re heading in the right direction.”
While McKenzie says that Jay McKee’s firing wasn’t necessarily because of the losing streak, he did say the decision to part ways with their skipper was done in an effort to salvage the season. In regards to the head coaches dismissal, McKenzie said to CTV in closing, “At the end of the day I think it was the right choice and it wasn’t just a knee jerk reaction to losing a few games in a row. We’re trying to look at the bigger picture here and make sure we can get back on track.”