Mike McKenna knows in many ways his career has come full circle.
His first professional hockey team was the ECHL’s Las Vegas Wranglers. And now the retired goaltender is back serving as a studio analyst for Golden Knights games on AT&T Sportsnet.
McKenna discussed his journey to Las Vegas and back again, his thoughts on some of the rumored NHL restart plans, his hidden talents and more on the latest edition of the Review-Journal’s “Golden Edge” podcast.
Listen to the full interview above or read a few select highlights below.
On his Wrangler days
McKenna: It was amazing because the team we had was so well-run, was so well-coached, was so much fun to be a part of and the team got along. That was first and foremost. That was more important than it being Vegas at all. And you’ll hear that all through hockey or any sport. That even if you’re in the armpit of America, you can have a great time if you have good people around you. And we did. Glen Gulutzan coaching, who’s made a great career in the NHL as a head and assistant coach and guys who made the NHL and guys who didn’t make the NHL but were just as amazing as people. God, we had fun. You know? We had one guy who greased every bouncer in town and we were always on the list somewhere. We could get into any club and we were making $500 a week.
On keeping Knights fans engaged during a pandemic
McKenna: Oh, we took it as a challenge. This was an opportunity to flex our muscles and do different stuff and try to keep our fans engaged in different ways. It’s always been a core strength of what we do within VGK, is to bring all the heads together, collaborate and try to come up with creative ideas that maybe people will latch onto. Whether it’s just creating a program or a hashtag, or a series of videos people can grow with, can learn from, that’s always been the goal. And to do it in a fun way.
On how much time NHL players need before a restart
McKenna: I think two weeks is really realistic in terms of a camp to get players back to where they were, at least as close as they could be to the regular season in terms of timing, in terms of familiarity with system work. For goaltenders, puck tracking. It takes at least a week and a half, two weeks before you feel like you’re really tracking that puck and you’re able to see it the way you want to.