Former Sabre McKee Adjusting to Life Behind the Bench
Guys like McKee are often under appreciated. Not here. The arena's changed names several times since he was drafted, but you'll still see a “McKee” jersey at least once every time you go to First Niagara Center. The city was a fit, too. McKee built a house and began raising a family in one of the few cities on Earth that enjoys a hip check as much as a goal.
Then along came Terry Pegula.
McKee probably had no idea he'd work for Pegula when he purchased the Buffalo Sabres last season. When he wondered out onto the ice during the Sabres' “Fan Appreciation Night” in early April, he was just one in a crowd of Buffalo hockey legends.
But, only months after “Hockey Heaven” came to Buffalo, Pegula purchased the AHL's Rochester Americans. He promptly brought the Sabres' prospects within 90 miles of home, put president Ted Black in charge and revamped the coaching staff to his liking.
McKee's learning on the job - and fast. The Amerks' coaches, a rare five-deep staff, have been given technology, resources and talent. Now, they need to pump out the next wave of Jason Pominvilles, Thomas Vaneks and Ryan Millers.
“It's a work in progress, there's a lot of new guys on this team and a lot of new faces,” McKee says. “We expect that there's going to be a lot of room for improvement. There's a lot of preparation, video and player analysis that's going on. It's changed a lot from early in my career.”