The Kitchener Rangers announced Thursday that Jay McKee has been named the club’s 22nd head coach in franchise history. Daniel Tkaczuk remains a member of the coaching staff in his current role as assistant coach, while Mike McKenzie maintains the role of assistant coach/assistant GM.
“It’s a huge honour,” McKee stated. “I feel very fortunate to have been afforded this opportunity with the Rangers.
“I’m also fortunate and grateful to have learned from two excellent head coaches during my time in the league. Mike Van Ryn being nominated as a Coach of the Year candidate, and Chris Knoblauch being awarded the honour this year, I look forward to applying what I’ve learned from them both and I’m excited for what’s ahead for our team this season.”
“The decision to have Jay step into this role was a simple one from an organizational standpoint,” said Rangers general manager Murray Hiebert.
“Jay is someone who our players are not only familiar with, but enjoyed playing for last season. We’re confident that what we began to set into motion last summer in terms of our philosophies, our approach, and the identity we are seeking as a franchise will continue seamlessly with Jay taking over the reins in his new capacity.”
McKee joined the Rangers in June, 2015 and spent the 2015-16 season as an associate coach to former Rangers head coach Mike Van Ryn.
A first round draft pick in each the Ontario Hockey League and National Hockey League, McKee brings to the table more than 20 years of experience, both as a player and a coach.
After a successful junior career spent as a member of the Sudbury Wolves and Niagara Falls Thunder, he would go on to play 14 seasons in the NHL with the Buffalo Sabres, St. Louis Blues and Pittsburgh Penguins.
During his time in the NHL he competed in the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999, the Eastern Conference Finals three times (1998, 1999 and 2006) and was invited to Team Canada’s Olympic Camp in 2002. He was an alternate captain for the Sabres, an NHLPA Player Representative, and also nominated for the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey in 2004.
McKee was named as a member of the coaching staff for Team Canada Black at the 2015 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge, and was a guest coach with the Under-18 teams as a part of the Hockey Canada National Teams’ Summer Showcase last August.
His foray into coaching began in 2010-11 when he volunteered his time as an assistant coach with the Niagara University Purple Eagles NCAA Division I men’s hockey team, then spent one season as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres’ AHL affiliate, the Rochester Americans, in 2011-12. Before joining the Rangers in June, McKee was an assistant coach with the Erie Otters during the 2014-15 season.
The club is currently looking to fill the position of associate coach previously held by McKee.
For more information please visit kitchenerrangers.com.