February 16, 2006

10 Questions With M. Hockey Netminder David McKee

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In between perusing the S.I. Swimsuit issue and preparing for Harvard, men’s hockey goalie David McKee left the 5-hole open for Sun Senior Writer Per Ostman.

1. We had to reschedule this interview because you had plans with your girlfriend on Tuesday. What’s Valentine’s Day like with David McKee?

Very simple.

Simple is good.

I let the girlfriend handle most of it. I didn’t do much.

Aren’t you supposed to be showering her with rose petals and chocolates?

That’s the way it goes, but …

Not in your world?

No. I had class that night.

So, what did she do for you?

That you can print? Just cooked. And decorated the room.

What did she decorate with?

[Laughs] Um, I can’t tell you.

No comment?

No comment. Yep. No comment.

Well, it sounds like you had a good Valentine’s Day then.

Yeah, it was awesome.

Was it worth ditching the interview?

Well, I wouldn’t go that far.

You’re getting yourself in trouble right off the bat here.

I know. She’s going to kill me.

2. Harvard comes to Lynah on Saturday. Do you look at this as just another game? Or is it special?

It’s definitely a special game, because it’s the seniors’ last home game of the regular season. All of their parents are going to be there, all of their family and friends. So, it’s definitely a huge game for all of us. We want to play our best for them.

Send them off with a victory?

Exactly.

The Lynah crowd is always energized, but do you feel an extra surge for the Harvard games?

Yeah, it’s so exciting. Whether it’s senior night or not, whenever we play Harvard, being in Lynah is just an incredible feeling. It’s like nothing I’ve ever experienced. We definitely feed off of it.

Because of all the emotion that goes along with Saturday night’s game, is it easy to look past Dartmouth on Friday night?

Not at all. We learned our lesson with Dartmouth. They’re a good team. We underestimated them earlier in the season. We didn’t come out 100 percent, and it cost us. Also, this entire weekend is for first place. Dartmouth is only one point behind us. So, both games are going to be huge, and we know that.

You were able to go into Cambridge in December and beat Harvard on its home ice. After a rough weekend last week, what does the team have to do to make sure the Crimson doesn’t return the favor?

I think it’s to get healthy. Last weekend, a lot of guys were sick.

You were fighting the flu yourself, weren’t you?

Yeah, a lot of guys were. I think that cost us. It hurt us in the two games. But everyone’s feeling good now. Everyone is healthy, so I think that’s a huge part of it.

Just for the record, you guys don’t mind the fish, right?

No, we love it.

So, fans shouldn’t get thrown out for smuggling a trout in their pants?

Not at all. The bigger the better.

3. Is playing goalie mentally difficult? You’re the last line of defense. There’s no margin for error.

Well, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. I’ve got such a good team around me. They’re always backing me up. I usually only have to stop one shot at a time, which makes my job a lot easier. Our penalty-killing is unbelievable, and that’s usually tough on a goalie because of all the close-range shots, but the defense is very good. They do a lot of work for me, which takes a lot of the load off my back.

But, it’s still a different mentality than those of the other guys on the ice, isn’t it? If one of them makes a mistake, it’s not immediately a disaster. If you make a mistake, there’s a flashing light and a siren.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned playing goalie for the past 12 years is to have a short-term memory. Anything that happens – you just think about it, figure out what you can change, and forget about it. That’s it. You put it behind you. You’re going to get scored on so many times in your career that it’s just not worth looking back.

4. Your streak of consecutive starts is still active. Is that important to you?

Not really. I’m proud of it and I’m happy about it – I’m happy that I’ve been a consistent player for the team. But if I get injured or I’m not playing well, then it’s not going to bother me.

You’re not going to pull a Ripken and start playing the first 30 seconds of every game just to keep it alive, huh?

Definitely not.

Goalie is a bit more of an individual position than the others. Because of this, do you worry about your stats or have an individual mentality on the ice?

Honestly, coming off last year I had really high expectations coming into this season. I shouldn’t have. I should have just been concentrating on what a goalie’s job is – to give the team the best possible chance to win. To make a few key saves here, maybe change the momentum. I got caught up in my stats early in the year and it hurt me. It hurt the team. It’s something I had to get past. I don’t even look at my stats anymore. They’re not part of what I do out there.

Has this change made you a better goalie?

Yes, definitely. I can help the team be more successful.

5.Goalies have to be pretty flexible – can you do a split?

Yeah.

Really?

I just got lucky with genetics. I don’t really stretch that much. I’m very flexible.

I’m sure your girlfriend enjoys this.

Yeah well, she was a gymnast so she’s even more flexible than I am.

Yikes. The sheer mechanics are mind-boggling.

Oh, it’s unbelievable.

You really did have a good Valentine’s Day, didn’t you?

6. You’re wearing a Longhorns shirt. Congratulations on the Rose Bowl.

Thank you.

Pretty happy about that?

Thank God for Vince Young. He’s unbelievable.

Yeah, he single-handedly won that game. But he’ll be in the pros next year.

Yeah, that’ll hurt us.

In a football-crazed state like Texas, how do you end up playing hockey? Don’t you get lynched in Texas if you don’t play football?

Yeah, that’s actually why I started playing football when I was younger. I found out that I was a little too small for it. I got lit up.

They’ve got some big’uns out there. Everything’s bigger in Texas.

Yeah, those are some big boys. They’re huge. But then, the Stars came to Dallas from Minnesota.

Does this make you a Mike Modano fan?

Oh, he’s a great guy. He actually helped to keep our hockey program afloat down there for awhile, when we were struggling for funds when I was younger.

He bankrolled your league?

It was really small at the time. Only one rink and just a few teams. He really helped out hockey a lot in Dallas.

Because you come from a warm-weather state, especially Texas, is it a chip on your shoulder? Did you feel like you had to prove yourself to all the northerners and Canadians?

Not really. As time goes by, people are realizing that more kids are coming out of the south and the west coast. It’s not as big of a deal anymore.

Is hockey catching on in Texas?

The biggest thing now is that there are better coaches down there. When I was a kid, I had pretty good coaches, but some of the other ones I knew really didn’t know what was going on. They had just learned the game at the same time as the kids.

Why don’t you have a southern accent?

Because I live in a house with 14 Canadians.

Yeah, you’re talking to me like you’re Matt Moulson.

I know! I spend every day with these people.

Do you ever break out a “y’all” every now and then?

Oh, all the time. I still say “y’all.” Every time I go home, my accent comes back.

Then you come back up here and you go back to sounding like you’re from Quebec.

Yeah, a week later it’s gone. I sound like a French Canadian.

Just to make sure, you still put ketchup on your french fries, right? Not mayonnaise?

Yeah, no poutein.

7. What is your opinion of the pending renovations to Lynah rink?

I mean, I really like the tradition of the rink. That’s one of the reasons I came to Cornell – the tradition and history of the rink, and the people who have played there. I’m excited that we’re going to have a new locker room, and that it’s going to be really nice, and I think it will help bring in even better recruits over the next couple of years, but I’m disappointed that we’re going to lose a little bit of our tradition.

You’re not thrilled about getting kicked out of your building for the first couple weeks of next season?

That’s not going to be fun at all.

Have they told you what the plan is yet?

No, I don’t think they’ve figured it out. I think the options are Elmira, Syracuse and Binghamton.

Do they owe it to you guys to ask your preference?

Well, they’re all about the same distance away. I guess we’ll play anywhere.

Will the benefits of these renovations outweigh the negatives and the initial inconveniences?

I think they will, actually. I think it’s going to push this program to an even higher level. And that’s saying a lot. We’re going to be able to bring in some really good kids who might have picked North Dakota or Colorado College instead of us just because of the facilities and the locker rooms. I think it will do a lot for the program.

8. Let me give you a hypothetical: If your wife spent half a million dollars, on shoes let’s say, do you think you’d know about it?

I’d hope so. Yeah, I’m definitely going to know.

OK, what if your wife spent half a million dollars in an illegal gambling ring bankrolled by your best friend? Would you know about that?

What if it was actually Gretzky placing those bets in his wife’s name?

That’s the worst-case scenario isn’t it?

They weren’t betting on hockey, were they?

No, I think it was just the Super Bowl and some college sports.

Hey, then he can do what he wants. As long as there’s no betting on hockey, where he knows all the inside information.

Even if Gretzky or his wife didn’t bet on hockey, there’s still the danger that critical gambling information could have been passed from the Coyotes to bookmakers. You just pray that it’s not the case. Do you think Gretzky is lying?

I don’t know –

Could his wife conceivably have spent $500,000 without him knowing?

Maybe. You never know with that guy. He’s the Great One. He made a ton of money while he was playing and he’s still getting paid well as a coach. I wouldn’t be surprised.

Regardless of how this plays out, does this tarnish his image for you? Have you talked about it within the team?

For me, not at all. Some of us have talked about it and it’s been brought up in the locker room, but I don’t think so. It’s his life and he can do what he wants with it. It doesn’t change what he did or the kind of person he was when he played.

9. What’s the hottest women’s team at Cornell?

I’d say women’s swimming.

I think you’re the first guy to pick them. Why are they the hottest? Have you ever actually been to a swim meet?

Yeah, freshman year.

It only took that one time, huh?

Yeah, one time. They made an impression on me. Swimsuits and water.

What more can you ask for?

It’s nice.

I think we should petition for mandatory bikinis.

Definitely. That would be much better.

Not so much for the men’s team, though.

Yeah, I quit the swim team when they started making us wear Speedos.

You’re not going to be one of those 60-year-old guys hanging out on the beach with the beer gut and the black thong?

Well, I didn’t say that.

10. Are you enjoying the Winter Olympics so far?

Definitely. The Olympics are always exciting. Except curling. I hate curling.

Yeah, it’s lawn darts on ice.

But lawn darts are actually kind of fun. I enjoyed playing when I was a kid.

Do your Canadian teammates defend curling?

Some of them do, actually. I look at them and then I look at the TV, and I’m like, “how can you defend that sport?”

Because you guys play one of the most physically demanding sports in the world. Curling is just a bunch of regular joes sliding rocks around.

Some of the guys want to quit hockey and start curling.

Are you kidding me? Harvard is going to read this and realize that your team is full of sissies.

10 Questions with Per Ostman will appear every Thursday, or until he gets the crap kicked out of him by the rest of the hockey team. Questions, comments and suggestions can be sent to tenquestions@mac.com.

Archived article by Per Ostman
Sun Senior Writer