Bari McKenzie eager to win in Glasgow after club terminated his contract

Bari McKenzie in action for Fife Flyers. Pic: Steve Gunn
Bari McKenzie in action for Fife Flyers. Pic: Steve Gunn

Bari McKenzie will return to Braehead Arena tomorrow (Friday) with a point to prove after having his contract ripped up by his former club.

The experienced forward was halfway through a two-year deal with the now rebranded Glasgow Clan when he was informed that he was being released.

That worked out just fine for the 32-year-old, who had already been sounded out by Fife Flyers, and he was more than happy to make the move to the east coast.

But being told he was no longer wanted has only given the skater extra motivation for tomorrow’s Challenge Cup clash in the Glasgow club’s home opener.

“I had a two-year contract with Clan, but it got terminated at the end of my first year,” he said.

“They said it was financial decision, but I don’t really believe that.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for Gareth Chalmers and the staff in Braehead.

“It was Gareth who spoke to me and I don’t know if he really wanted it to happen, but I don’t think he had a choice.

“Looking back it was a blessing in disguise. Hutchy had already spoke to me and planted the seed, but he didn’t put any pressure on me and I was honest with him and told him the situation.

“I went back that night and spoke to Gemma, and said I wanted to go to Fife, and thankfully everything played out that way.

“Looking back it was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. I love it here, we’re doing really well, and I’m just really glad it panned out this way.

“I’ve still got a lot of friends playing in Braehead, and I’ve got a lot of respect for the fans. I don’t have anything bad to say about the organisation as a whole.

“But at the end of the day I’m a Fife player now and I’m going there with the intention of spoiling their homecoming party.”

Having featured for Clan over the past three seasons, McKenzie admitted it will be strange going into Braehead Arena as an opposition player.

“Hopefully I get a good reception!” he said. “I had three good years there, and I’m looking forward to going back.

“Hopefully we get the win, and I’m sure we will if we play the way we can.”

Playing in purple, McKenzie was on the end of several beatings from Fife last season, and admitted that things did not work out under coach John Tripp.

“Last year, the rivalry wasn’t as big as it should have been,” he said. “The Scottish Cup match at the start with all the fighting was a good intense game but after that there was no competition to be honest.

“Tripper came in tried to put his own authority on everything and it backfired. I think he would admit it backfired as well.

“At the start we didn’t see eye to eye on certain things but by the end of the season we got on really well, and I still speak to him now.

“We had a good team, and everything was in place, but it just didn’t work.”

For some players, moving between rival clubs would require winning over the fans, but for McKenzie, he already felt welcome in Kirkcaldy.

“Everyone says it’s hard coming to Fife, but as an away player the Fife fans have always taken to me,” he said.

“You always here some stuff but they’ve never really been on my back.

“They’ve always liked me for some strange reason. I don’t know why.

“I feel I’m settling in fine, but it took a couple of weeks of preseason to get back into the swing of things.

“It’s hard being Scottish when there’s not really any ice in the summer and all the imports are coming over having been skating all summer.

“So we’re behind the eight-ball a little bit, but I think now my line with Chase aand Gauthier is playing pretty well and we’re getting used to each other.

“I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”