The New York Night have decided to clean house in their front office. This week, the Night announced that they would not renew the contract of Royce McCormick, the only general manager the franchise has ever had. McCormick will be replaced by former Seattle Sailors GM Jay McKay.
“We’ve come a long way in the last couple of seasons,” said Night owner Marvin Kingman. “But we haven’t gotten to the level I expect. We haven’t made the playoffs, much less won the Vandy. And so, it’s time for a new direction.”
McCormick exits after five seasons with a record of 140-151-17. The GM never hesitated to make bold moves or bring in big names, most notably his 2016 trade to acquire C Rod Remington. But McCormick’s draft record was somewhat spotty, in part due to his penchant for trading away high draft picks. The Night also struggled to find the additional pieces needed to get the team over the hump and into the postseason. The top-heavy payroll made it difficult to add quality veteran depth, and McCormick balked at the idea of moving any of the team’s highly-paid stars.
“I felt like we were really close to breaking through here, as soon as next season,” said McCormick. “But when you don’t deliver the results, you can’t count on unlimited chances. I think Jay’s coming into a good place, and I wish him the best.”
According to team sources, coach Nick Foster has had an increased hand in personnel decisions over the last couple of seasons, a fact that irked McCormick. There have been persistent rumors of a power struggle between the two, and this decision indicates that the owner has chosen to side with the coach.
For his part, Foster declined to comment on any role he may have played in McCormick’s dismissal. “I think Mr. Kingman has made it clear that we have high standards around here, as it should be,” said Foster. “I’m glad that I’m still around, and I think next season’s going to be huge for us.”
In hiring McKay, New York adds a GM who is no stranger to big moves. The 63-year-old calls himself a “hockey vagabond.” He has spent nearly 30 years in various front-office roles at every level of the game, most recently as general manager of the Sailors. During his tenure, he built the expansion club from scratch and never shied away from major moves. Most notably, with the team on the brink of contention at the 2018 trading deadline, McKay made a couple of big deals designed to get the team over the hump.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out, as Seattle missed the postseason and McKay was fired. This season, though, the Sailors made their first-ever playoff appearance, largely with the same roster he left behind.
“I can’t wait to get started over here,” said McKay. “We play in the greatest city in the world, and we’ve got a loaded roster. We’ve got a great coach in Nick Foster. With a couple of the right moves here and there, I think we can be the champion Mr. Kingman wants to see.”
McKay declined to discuss any specific moves he might have in mind. “I tell you here, and suddenly the price on the guys I want goes through the roof,” joked the incoming GM. “But basically, I’m looking to build on our strengths, especially our high-scoring offense, while upgrading our depth and fortifying our D.”
The new boss has a number of big decisions to make right away. New York has a number of pending free agents, including the entire top line (LW Chase Winchester, C Brock Manning, and RW Rick “The Stick” Nelson), top-pairing defender Tuomas Nurmi, and goaltenders Jesse Clarkson and Sherman Carter.