When the Flyers acquired journeyman goaltender Mike McKenna off waivers on January 4, 2019, most people did not think it would turn out to be a match made in Heaven. After all, McKenna has seen it all throughout his hockey career. A career that began in 2002 when he was drafted 172nd overall by the Nashville Predators.
McKenna was traded from the Ottawa Senators on January 2, 2019, to the Vancouver Canucks. The Canucks then placed McKenna on waivers on January 3rd, to which the Flyers scooped him up on January 4. Talk about a whirlwind 48 hours. Through all this, McKenna has a wife and two daughters. So what does McKenna do? He takes it in stride. A true professional.
When McKenna was claimed off waivers by the Flyers, I asked him on a conference call what his characteristics were, he answered, “What do you mean? I’m just trying to win some games. Stop the puck (Laughing).” The room filled with reporters were laughing including myself. This is what McKenna brings. He brought enjoyment at a time when everyone needed it the most. When McKenna talked, people listened.
He wasn’t one to complain throughout his AHL and NHL career. McKenna takes everything in stride, even though deep down, it’s tough not having a set home or school for his daughters. However, what McKenna didn’t know was that both Flyers and Phantoms fans would fall in love with him and his family.
Maybe it was the way McKenna carried himself, as he played his heart out on a nightly basis. This love was shown for him when he appeared in his first game for the Flyers as the seventh goaltender used in a single season, and when he won the season finale for the Phantoms on April 13, 2019. Of course, this would turn out to be the last professional game he ever played.
Mike McKenna the City of Philadelphia and Lehigh are grateful for you. We are grateful that we got to know you and your family. Through all the struggles that you endured along the way in your hockey career, Philadelphia and Lehigh will always be home. You will always be a Flyer and a Phantom. One piece of memorabilia that you can take away from the game is your autographed “Gritty” mask. Enjoy your retirement with your wife Rachel and two daughters, as you ride off into the sunset.
Mandatory Credit: Jean-Yves Ahern-USA TODAY Sports