Blues defenseman Jay McKee is looking forward to leaving last season in the past.
Just a year ago, McKee sprained his knee in a preseason game and was sidelined. In his regular season debut, he suffered a broken wrist on his first shift and played in just 22 more games before a pelvis injury shut him down for the season.
This week’s training camp scrimmages are the closest he’s come to game action since attempting a return on Feb. 27, 2007.
“I feel great, I feel really good,” McKee said after a game on Friday. “I’ve been skating all summer, but you don’t get that same feeling skating with guys in scrimmages as you do when you’re out there banging around and going 100 percent. I have no complaints, I feel great and I’m looking forward to this season.”
McKee will be sporting the No. 77 this season on the back of his jersey. He wore 74 last year.
“I wore 74 on another team for 11 years or so. I just felt that (No. 77) belongs there. I’m on a new team, it’s a new chapter for me.”
The 30-year-old defenseman is hoping to completely close the book on the past year and look forward to this season. He hopes the lingering injury stays in the past.
“There were some questions in my mind, but being out there for the last couple of days really lifted a weight off my shoulders,” he said. “We, as players, have very high expectations of ourselves this year. If you look at the organization from top to bottom, they’ve really worked hard to make this a complete first class organization, and the guys are responding around that.”
Sept. 13 McKenna Excited for Training Camp Opportunity
Every time Mike McKenna walks to his mailbox, he finds an invitation.
Early in the summer, the Blues asked him to their summer prospect development camp. A month later, he was invited to participate in the NHL prospects tournament in Traverse City, Michigan. And just last weekend, he was personally invited to attend training camp this week.
“The ball just kept rolling,” McKenna said. “They indicated to me that they needed a goaltender for (Traverse City), so I figured I’d go along and see how it goes.”
McKenna won both games he started in Traverse City, including a shutout effort against the Dallas Stars where he stopped 41 shots.
McKenna played for the Las Vegas Wranglers of the ECHL last season, recording a 27-4-7 record along with a 2.21 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage.
“(Getting invited to training camp) was definitely a very nice surprise. It’s something that I’ve worked for for so long, and I never thought it was going to happen, and two years after I graduated, I finally got my chance here,” McKenna said. “It was exciting. I just try to play my best, and so far it’s been going pretty well.”
McKenna is not under contract with the Blues and is participating in camp on a tryout basis. If he is not offered a contract, he will return to the ECHL, where the Wranglers own his rights.
“My goal is to play at as a high of a level as I possibly can, whether it’s this year or next year or down the road. Whatever the organization sees fit. If they decide to have me in it, I’d love to be a part of it.”
“It’s been a fortunate summer for me, to say the least.”