Exclusive One on One: Metzer Sits Down With New Penguin Jay McKee
(long, long interview)
BM: Just to elaborate on that a bit, were the Penguins a team that you did identify as a potential destination in free agency and when exactly did you guys and get the ball rolling with Ray Shero on potentially bringing you in here?
JM: They were actually a team that I identified as a team that I would like to consider going too the first time I was unrestricted. You could see what they were building there and what potential they had for the future and obviously that came true. So, I have known about that team and the way it was going to go for them for a long time. You can just see when teams go through some tough times and get some high draft picks and the way they build, if they bring the right people on board they are going to do some special things and that’s what is happening in Pittsburgh. I am excited that I am going to be part of their future.
BM: I think that what you bring to the table is especially attractive based on what they lost in Scuderi and Gill…especially in Scuderi with the style that you both play?
JM: This time around being unrestricted was completely different than last time. I was able to sit back and look more at what the teams have and I noticed that Pittsburgh did have a couple guys that were going to be UFAs and you don’t know if their going to sign the night before or the day of or what. I certainly kept a little bit of a target on that team and I was fortunate to see both of those guys move on to a new spot and I it certainly opened up a spot for me given that I have some comparables to those players. Certainly the bottom line is you have to rely on that team wanting to bring you in and liking what you have and I feel very fortunate that that’s what they felt.
BM: I think that is the case, Ray Shero has already been very complimentary of what you bring to the table. He has done a nice job of cheer leading your arrival in Pittsburgh…
BM: We sort of talked about this already…but when you look at your game. How would you describe Jay McKee? Everyone always jumps to the shot blocking and the sound defensive play, but is there any hidden element to your game that you might be able to tell me about?
JM: Yeah, I’ve got all of this offense I’m just not showing anybody… (Laughing)
BM: Yeah, you’ve been holding off right? (Laughing back)
JM: Yeah, for years!! That’s it, I just take pride in the penalty-killing role. I certainly hope that we can get our penalty killing in the top of the league. It wasn’t last year for Pittsburgh, I am not sure where they were, but that certainly is a role I take a lot of passion and pride in. My game is really structured around smart sound defensive play and a lot of times it’s not things that you notice, but as long as I get the job done and play consistent that’s what I try to focus to do and stepping up some hits at the right time. I know when I was younger I used to run around all night long trying to chase guys and hit all over the ice and would kind of get myself caught out of position. The players have only gotten faster and quicker and better in this league and if you don’t have the right timing and pick your spots you’re going to end up having scoring chances against. That is what I try to keep to a minimum. Typically become best friends with my goaltenders…that’s probably the inner most secret I have.
BM: Final question…have you had a chance to talk with the equipment guys in Pittsburgh, what number are you going to be wearing so the folks in town can get those jerseys stitched up for the first game this year?
JM: (Laughing) I don’t have a definite yet, but 74 was good to me in the East…
BM: I think it’s available… (Laughing)
JM: I don’t think I am going to be wearing 77, unless Paul Coffey comes up to me and says excuse me Mr. McKee I would be honored if you would wear 77. I don’t think that is going to happen, so I will probably wear something else. I am leaning towards going back to 74; it treated me very good in the Eastern Conference, so there is probably a pretty good chance that I will be wearing that.
BM: I will pass that along…I am sure you will see the jerseys purchased. They don’t care if you are on a one-year deal. They will already be calling for you to sign on next season after your first game here.
JM: Take a poll, ask fans what they want me to wear…(laughing)…. I’m not tied to any number really.