By: John Williams
It was a chilly morning in Toronto, on January Four, when veteran goaltender Mike McKenna bought a telephone name that will change the course of his season. Once more.
McKenna, who had simply been traded from the Ottawa Senators to the Vancouver Canucks two days prior, was having espresso together with his new group’s goalie coach Ian Clark. After being positioned on waivers the day earlier than by his new group, the 35-year-old was on the point of fly to Cleveland for the Utica Comets’ recreation towards the Cleveland Monsters when he acquired one other life-changing telephone name; his two-day tenure with the group was over and he was now a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.
As soon as once more, McKenna was on the transfer to one more hockey vacation spot.
In his 14-year skilled hockey profession, the St. Louis, Missouri, native has been a member of 14 NHL franchises and has performed in 13 completely different cities within the American Hockey League.
“Someway, I turned the layover man and I’ve at all times been attempting to shake that, nevertheless it simply appears to be [the identity] that has been hooked up to me,” McKenna stated.
McKenna made his Flyers debut on January 9 towards the Washington Capitals and the veteran stayed up with the Flyers till January 30, when the group loaned him to the Lehigh Valley Phantoms on a conditioning stint. He was then recalled for per week in mid-February earlier than being loaned to the Phantoms from that time on.
Round that point, McKenna secured a spot within the Lehigh Valley space so his spouse Rachel and two daughters might be collectively for the remainder of the season. It was a reduction for the McKenna household to lastly be below the identical roof as soon as once more.
“Personally, it was a very, actually troublesome few months for our household,” the previous sixth-round decide of the Nashville Predators stated. “[The trade and then waiver claim] was not what we anticipated to occur in any respect in any means. There have been quite a lot of issues that had been exterior of our management that we thought we had a management on.”
The method of transferring itself was not one thing that was simply controllable both for the McKennas. The commerce from the Senators to the Canucks was the primary variable that threw the household off-guard.
“Being traded is troublesome when you’ve gotten youngsters to fret about which can be in a distinct nation, on visas and in kindergarten,” McKenna stated. “There may be only a complete bunch of logistics to care for, like when am I going to get them out? When am I going to get them again right here?”
Though McKenna knew there was at all times a chance that he might be on the transfer once more, he hoped he did every part doable to forestall that from taking place. Together with his two younger daughters on his thoughts, the considered making them pack their baggage as soon as once more weighed on him.
“There may be additionally a sure degree of guilt realizing that my daughters made mates at college and now you need to rip her out of there and put her in a brand new one,” McKenna famous. “You hope that they’re resilient — and she or he appears to be — however deep down inside, you might be simply hoping that it goes nicely for them, much more so than myself.”
The transition on the ice, not less than initially, wasn’t straightforward for McKenna, both. The Phantoms run a 1-Three-1 protection, which is one thing that he has by no means performed behind in his profession. McKenna knew that he simply needed to get some reps to search out his consolation zone with the group.
“Lots of people suppose goaltending is simply plug-and-play,” McKenna stated. “And for me, it actually helps and I begin to excel as soon as I understand how my group performs and the way we perform as a unit.”
Via his first eight video games as a Phantom, McKenna has posted a Four-Four-Zero file and is feeling like he belongs within the locker room. After all his primary objective for the rest of the season is for the Orange and Black to make the playoffs, however from a private standpoint, the veteran simply desires to take time to benefit from the recreation once more.
“For some time there, this yr had a lot uncertainty that it was exhausting to simply drown all that out and have enjoyable on the market,” McKenna stated. “It’s good to have a way of function and a way of the place your season is headed and the place you might be hoping it would head, so that’s all I’m attempting to do; have enjoyable.”
Up to now, early returns on his profession with the Flyers’ group are constructive.
“[The organization is] top notch,” McKenna stated. “They do every part they will to assist the gamers, attempting to ensure that all of the little issues that you just don’t take into consideration that usually are buttoned up. As you grow old, you actually admire it. It has been an ideal expertise.”