By Doug Kennedy
To say Scott McKay knows the NHL inside out would be an understatement.
McKay played his minor hockey in Kincardine before playing Junior C in Wingham and Junior B in Listowel. He played some senior hockey in Creemore while attending Georgian College in Barrie.
McKay started working for the Maple Leafs in 1994 as an equipment manager. One of the highlights of his Leafs career was being part of the staff at the last game played at Maple Leaf Gardens. In his early days, he looked after the visiting team dressing rooms, so he met hundreds of NHL stars.
While with the Leafs, he built up strong friendships with Mats Sundin and the legendary head coach Pat Quinn. His close relationship with Quinn probably cost him his job with the Leafs, as he was deemed too close to Quinn by the following regime. What hockey fan would not want to be close to Pat Quinn? McKay also got to work alongside Hall of Fame coach Pat Burns and Mike Murphy.
One special night in McKay’s life came when he got the call to be a backup goalie during a Toronto Maple Leafs regular-season game on March 12, 2012, when Jonas Gustavsson was injured in warm-up. At first he thought it was a prank call, but they called back and told him to get to the arena immediately. The Leafs signed McKay to a one-day amateur contract that unfortunately did not pay him any money. My Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Leafs that night, 7-1, and the Leafs gave him the sweater for a keepsake. He said despite the loss, the players treated him extremely well. He did have experience between the pipes at the NHL level, as he would go in for Leafs’ practices when Ed Belfour had some back problems.
McKay worked during the 2014 Winter Classic in Detroit (Detroit versus Toronto) and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, during which he was manager of facilities and operations; managing all team dressing rooms at the MasterCard Centre, Ricoh Coliseum and the Air Canada Centre.
He also got to experience major league baseball with the Toronto Blue Jays. He would help them out often and worked during the World Baseball Classic as the clubhouse manager for Team Canada. This was a big highlight as he got to know some great Canadian baseball players and coaches.
“Scott’s biggest benefit to his job is the respect he has with current and past NHL players,” said co-worker Glen Healy. “He has built up many strong friendships over the three decades working in the NHL. Their goal is to make things better tomorrow than they are today, for past and current NHL Players.”
His brother Tim said his personality and hard work took him from working at a retail store at Maple Leaf Gardens to being behind the bench with the Toronto Maple Leafs early in his career.
“Those traits helped him to establish life-long friendships with players such as Mats Sundin, Curtis Joseph, Tie Domi and Glenn Healy, who brought him in to work with the NHL Alumni Association,” said Tim.
Tim, a former Kincardine Independent reporter, said his brother treats everyone the same, whether they are a Hall-of-Fame calibre star or an old friend from Kincardine, and has been the key to his success.
I know that when people in Kincardine reach out to McKay, he tries to help in any way he can. He is another great ambassador we have for our outstanding sports alumni born and raised in Kincardine.
Currently, McKay is senior manager of players and projects for the NHL Alumni Association. He raises funds through events and sponsorships to help former NHL players in need, both financially and emotionally.
McKay currently lives in Etobicoke and has 13-year-old twins, while his father, John, and brother Tim and his family live in Kincardine.
He has always been involved in fundraising initiatives around Kincardine. He has helped raise lots of money for the local hospital and has brought celebrities to Old Boys and Girls Reunion fundraisers.