Kitchener Rangers General Manager Murray Hiebert announced today that the club completed its coaching staff search and has named Mike Van Ryn the new Head Coach. In addition, he named Jay McKee Associate Coach and Daniel Tkaczuk Assistant Coach.
In a separate organizational move, Mike McKenzie will become the Rangers Assistant General Manager.
“Early in the process it became apparent that successful CHL teams coaching staffs had two common characteristics. CHL coaches with a pro playing history and a passion for junior hockey. The combination was proving to be successful and although it was not the only criteria this success could not be ignored as we planned for the future,” said Hiebert.
“I wanted to ensure I assembled a coaching staff revolved around putting together a team of coaches rather than an individual. I feel the team of coaches that we have assembled fit into that formula perfectly. I have confidence that they will use their skills and knowledge to move our current group of players forward next season and in the future.”
Hiebert went on to say, “In Mike Van Ryn we have an excellent communicator and an offensive minded approach to the game. The players enjoy playing for Mike and have expressed confidence in his ability to coach. Mike likes to think outside the box and often comes up with very innovative ways for the players to practice the skills he is trying to teach.”
Van Ryn has been with the Rangers for the past two seasons as Associate Coach. The London, Ontario native is an alumnus of the OHL, AHL and NHL. Prior to being the captain of the Sarnia Sting he played NCAA hockey for two years at the University of Michigan where they won a national championship in 1998. During that time he represented Canada twice at the World Juniors, serving as captain in 1998 for Tom Renney.
Drafted in the first round to the New Jersey Devils, Mike went on to play in the NHL for nine seasons. Mike was fortunate to lace up for the Toronto Maple Leafs, St. Louis Blues and The Florida Panthers. During that time he played under the likes of Mike Keenan, Joel Quennville, Rick Dudley, John Torchetti, Jacque Martin and Ron Wilson.
After his playing career, Mike turned to coaching and became an assistant coach for the Niagara IceDogs. During his first season Mike played a key role in the development of Boston Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton. The following year he coached the Minnesota Wild’s AHL team, the Houston Aeros, under Stanley Cup winner John Torchetti. During his time in the AHL Mike helped develop defencemen, Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella, Nate Prosser, Matt Dumba and Panthers Steven Kampfer.
Jay McKee brings more than 20 years of combined player and coaching experience to the Rangers. A first round draft pick in both the OHL and NHL.
After a successful junior career, McKee spent 14 seasons in the National Hockey League. During his time in the NHL he went to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1999, Eastern Conference finals three times (98, 99 and 06), was invited to Team Canada’s Olympic Camp in 2002, served as an assistant captain for the Sabres, and was nominated for the Bill Masterton trophy in 2004.
Jay has been coaching since 2010, prior to joining the Rangers, McKee was the assistant coach of the 2014-15 OHL finalist Erie Otters.
Hiebert says, “Jay McKee has been successful as a player and earned high praise from his colleagues in both the OHL and NHL on his coaching abilities. He brings a good mix to the staff when you combine his defensive playing style that allowed him to have a long NHL career with the more offensive leanings of Van Ryn and Tkaczuk.”
Tkaczuk joins the Rangers from his most recent position as assistant coach of the Owen Sound Attack from 2012 to 2015.
He was drafted first overall by the OHL Barrie Colts in 1995, to be followed up as a first round selection, 6th overall to the Calgary Flames in 1997.
Prior to playing in the NHL, this OHL captain was a member of Team Ontario who captured Gold at the world U17 in 1995 and played for Team Canada at the World Juniors in 1998 and 99, winning the Silver medal in 99.
In addition to his prior post with the Attack, Daniel currently is an assistant coach and consultant with Upper Canada College and skills development director for the Barrie Colts AAA. The president of (iHockeyTrainer.com), an elite skills program and is the Lead Program Director of Skills Development at the National Training Rinks in Barrie. He does work with the OHF regional camps skills development U15 program and will be attending the National U17 Development Camp as a skills coach in Calgary this July and August.
“Daniel Tkaczuk brings a wealth of playing experience and combines it with all-encompassing passion for the game,” said Hiebert. “He was a highly skilled player and has over the past number of years turned his abilities into a highly regarded skills coach. Daniel’s focus will be working to improve our players’ skills and will have special team responsibilities.”
Mike McKenzie has been with the Rangers since 2012 as an assistant coach.
While playing for the St Mike’s Buzzers Mike received a division one hockey scholarship to attend St. Lawrence University. During his time at St. Lawrence he exceled on and off the ice by surpassing the 100 point mark while also being on the All-Academic Team in 2008, 2009 and earning his degree.
Mike would then move on to play two years of professional hockey. During the two years he split time in the AHL and ECHL.
Mike also served as video coach for the Hockey Canada U-17 program in 2014.
Hiebert says Mike McKenzie has over the past three years demonstrated a very high level of hockey intelligence. “He has shown a very good ability to identify talent in providing valuable analysis during our past two drafts and will expand upon this work in conjunction with our head scout Ray Hollowell to prepare for the next OHL draft.”
Mike will also continue to work closely with coaches in practice and games when his schedule permits.