This week’s interview is with Jay McKay, who was fired as GM of the Seattle Sailors this week.
SHL Digest: In our final regular-season interview of 2018, we’re here with Jay McKay, who was recently relieved of his duties as the Seattle Sailors GM. Jay, thanks for speaking with us.
Jay McKay: Well, hey, I’ve got plenty of time on my hands now. So I’m happy to do it.
SHLD: In some ways, your dismissal was a surprise. The Sailors have made significant improvements year-over-year in your tenure, thanks in no small part to the bold moves you’ve made to acquire talent. But for better or worse, your season has been judged on your decision to go all in at the trading deadline, giving up several top prospects to acquire C Lars Karlsson and D Hans Mortensen, a decision that didn’t work out. Do you think that’s a fair way to judge your tenure?
JM: Yeah, I think it’s fair. I mean, it was my call to go for those deals. I pushed for them, I made them happen. And I said at the time that I thought I might get canned if the trades didn’t work, which they didn’t. I’m a big boy; I’ve been fired before.
SHLD: At the time you made the deal, most observers felt that the Sailors were a long shot to catch Anchorage. What led to the decision to make those trades?
JM: Exactly what you said. We were a longshot to catch Anchorage, and I knew that we weren’t going to get there with the horses we had on hand. I’m a gambling man and a big-time poker player, and I know that the way to win is to either go in hard or fold. I didn’t feel like folding, so I went in hard.
SHLD: Do you think other GMs in your position would have made the same trades?
JM: Definitely not. Most GMs are super-conservative; they don’t want to make a move that they’ll get blamed for if it goes wrong. I figure most GMs in my position would have made a minor trade or two so they look like they’re trying, or maybe they’d have stood pat and waited for some of the young guys to develop.
SHLD: But that’s not your style.
JM: No, it isn’t. I believe that if you’ve got a shot to win, you’ve got to take it. You only get so many bites at the apple in life; why waste one because you’re scared?
SHLD: Looking back and knowing what you know now, would you still make those trades if you had to do it over?
JM: Hell yes. Making those trades got everybody fired up: the players, the fans, everybody. It’s me saying ‘I believe in you.’ Turns out that the Igloos got things figured out and shut us out of a playoff spot, but we went down swinging. I feel good about that.
SHLD: So, what do you think of the team you’re leaving behind?
JM: I think it’s a helluva squad. Getting past Michigan and Anchorage is going to be a heavy lift, don’t get me wrong. But this is a talented, hard-working young bunch. We shed some prospects at the deadline, but the cupboard isn’t bare there either. Whoever the next GM is, if he plays his cards right, he’s going to look like a genius.
SHLD: Sounds good! Thanks for an open and honest interview, Jay. Good luck landing your next job!
JM: Thanks. That’s the great thing about jobs: there’s always another one just around the corner. I’ll be fine.