There’s just over two weeks until the start of free agency and the Buffalo Sabres will have a big task on their hands in rebuilding the Rochester Americans roster. One of the many changes ahead was disclosed on Monday when it was announced that Jay McKee would not be brought back as an assistant coach. It was the first year for McKee as a coach in professional hockey.
Kevin Oklobzija wrote the following:
In some ways, it’s surprising that the organization wouldn’t want McKee to continue to lend his expertise — 13 years of NHL experience surely translates into some sort of valuable knowledge. McKee was very hands-on when it came to teaching the defensemen during practice.
At the same time, assistant coach Chadd Cassidy primarily handled the defense during games, so perhaps their duties overlapped. Who knows, maybe there was even a difference in philosophies.
Somehow I tend to believe there just wasn’t the proper cohesiveness between the coaches that is necessary on a staff. Cassidy and Rolston have been together for six seasons (five with USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program). McKee was brought in I think more by folks in Buffalo and not necessarily by Rolston. They tried it; it didn’t work.
Every player spoke highly of the guidance, support and knowledge that McKee offered from start to finish of the season. In the end it’s about the chemistry behind the bench and what the bosses think and it appears, as Kevin mentioned, McKee just didn’t fit in.
McKee was a great addition to an otherwise unknown staff at the start of the 2011/2012 season. Not that it really should have mattered but it was a way to have a known name behind the bench with the return of the Sabres and Amerks affiliation.
Non hockey related (and it’s summer so I don’t have much else to write), the decision could have been based on the fact that McKee is tall and often obstructed the view of anyone (including myself) who sits behind or near the Amerks bench. It’s also possible, but not likely, that Rolston didn’t approve of McKee only wearing pin strip suits.