John McKenzie (ice hockey)

John McKenzie
McKenzie in 2012
Born (1937-12-12)December 12, 1937
High River, Alberta, Canada
Died June 9, 2018(2018-06-09) (aged 80)
Wakefield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Height 5 ft 9 in (175 cm)
Weight 170 lb (77 kg; 12 st 2 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for NHL
Chicago Black Hawks
Detroit Red Wings
New York Rangers
Boston Bruins
WHA
Philadelphia Blazers
Vancouver Blazers
Minnesota Fighting Saints
Cincinnati Stingers
New England Whalers
National team  Canada
Playing career 19581979

John Albert McKenzie (December 12, 1937 June 9, 2018) was a Canadian professional hockey player and coach. He played in the National Hockey League (NHL) for several seasons, most notably with the Boston Bruins, with whom he won the Stanley Cup twice. He also played several seasons in the World Hockey Association (WHA).

Playing career

McKenzie's former teammate Gerry Melnyk dubbed the young player "Pieface" for his resemblance to a cartoon figure of the same name featured on the wrapper of a popular Canadian candy bar; this was later shortened to "Pie." He played junior hockey for three years with the St. Catharines Teepees of the OHA and led the league in goals and points in 1958.

Mckenzie made his NHL debut in 1958–59 with the Chicago Black Hawks. The following season he moved on to the Detroit Red Wings, where he lasted two years. He was then demoted again to the minors, where he played most of three seasons in the American Hockey League with the Hershey Bears and the Buffalo Bisons, and was named to the league's First All-Star Team in 1963. He returned to the NHL and the Black Hawks in 1963–64, and two years later played for the New York Rangers for part of the 1965–66 season, halfway during which he was traded to the Rangers' arch-rivals, the Boston Bruins.

It was with the Bruins that the 5-foot-9-inch, 170 pound (77 kg) right wing had the most productive seasons of his career. He became a star in the 1967-68 season, scoring twenty-eight goals and gaining a reputation as a pesky, relentless hustler. He scored twenty-nine goals each of the next two seasons, and was named to the Second Team All-Star in 1969–70. In the playoffs that year he scored seventeen points in fourteen games, fourth on the team after Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and John Bucyk and did so again in 1971-72. His best season was 1970–71, when he scored 31 goals and 77 points in 65 games. All in all, McKenzie scored 169 goals in his seven years in Boston and helped the Bruins win two Stanley Cup titles, in 1970 and 1972.

At the end of the sixth and last game in the 1972 Stanley Cup finals, when the Bruins defeated the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden to take the Cup, McKenzie skated to center ice, raised one arm in mimicry of the Statue of Liberty, placed his other hand around his neck to appear as though he were choking, then jumping up and down in a circle several times. Thus he implied, to the Rangers and their fans, that the Rangers had choked at their best chance of winning their first Stanley Cup since 1940). This became known as the "McKenzie Choke Dance," or simply the "choke dance."

In the summer of 1972, McKenzie was disgruntled at being left unprotected in the expansion draft, and he signed as player-coach with the Philadelphia Blazers of the newly formed World Hockey Association (WHA). In thirteen games he recorded only two wins and eleven losses, and he stepped down as coach in favor of veteran Phil Watson. He continued to play effectively for the Blazers, then for the Minnesota Fighting Saints, the Cincinnati Stingers and finally the New England Whalers. He finished his career in the WHA's final season in 1978-79, having played twenty-one seasons.

Later Life

In 2007, McKenzie served as the coach of the Berklee Ice Cats, the newly formed hockey team at Berklee College of Music in Boston.[1] Following that, he was the liaison for hockey development at the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

McKenzie died at his home in Wakefield, Massachusetts, at age 80 on June 9, 2018, after a long illness.[2][3][4]

Career achievements and facts

  • Played in 477 WHA games (7th all-time), totalling 163 goals, 250 assists and 413 points (16th all-time)
  • Played in the NHL All-Star Game in 1970 and 1972
  • Played in the Summit Series for Team Canada in 1974 against the Soviet Union
  • His #19 was retired by the Hartford Whalers, making him one of only three players whose number was retired by an NHL franchise for which he never played (the other two being J. C. Tremblay by the Quebec Nordiques and Frank Finnigan by the modern-day Ottawa Senators). It was widely believed at the time, since McKenzie's contributions to the WHA Whalers were modest, that the honor was a public relations sop to the Boston Bruins' fan base for which Whalers management was competing.
  • In 2010, he was elected as an inaugural inductee into the World Hockey Association Hall of Fame in the “Legends of the Game” category.[5]

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1953–54Calgary BuffaloesWCJHL3468141250002
1954–55Medicine Hat TigersWCJHL39144183350004
1955–56Nanton PalominosFHHL
1955–56Calgary StampedersWHL1000020112
1956–57St. Catharines TeepeesOHA-Jr.52323870143149112050
1957–58St. Catharines TeepeesOHA-Jr.524851992278841219
1958–59Chicago Black HawksNHL323472220002
1958–59Calgary StampedersWHL1325718
1959–60Detroit Red WingsNHL59812205020000
1960–61Detroit Red WingsNHL1631413
1960–61Hershey BearsAHL4719234284836910
1961–62Hershey BearsAHL58302959149712319
1962–63Buffalo BisonsAHL71354681122138122028
1963–64Chicago Black HawksNHL4599185040116
1964–65St. Louis BravesCHL554917
1964–65Chicago Black HawksNHL518101846110116
1965–66New York RangersNHL35651136
1965–66Boston BruinsNHL361392236
1966–67Boston BruinsNHL6917193698
1967–68Boston BruinsNHL7428386610741128
1968–69Boston BruinsNHL60292756991022417
1969–70Boston BruinsNHL72294170114145121735
1970–71Boston BruinsNHL65314677120723522
1971–72Boston BruinsNHL77224769126155121737
1972–73Philadelphia BlazersWHA6028507815743148
1973–74Vancouver BlazersWHA4514385271
1974–75Vancouver BlazersWHA7423376084
1975–76Minnesota Fighting SaintsWHA5721264752
1975–76Cincinnati StingersWHA12310136
1976–77Minnesota Fighting SaintsWHA4017133042
1976–77New England WhalersWHA341119302552138
1977–78New England WhalersWHA792729566114661216
1978–79New England WhalersWHA7619284711510371010
NHL totals 691 206 268 474 917 69 15 32 47 133
WHA totals 477 163 250 413 619 33 14 15 29 42

Coaching record

TeamYearRegular seasonPost season
GWLTPtsFinishResult
Philadelphia Blazers1972-73 7160(2)3rd in WHA East(resigned)
Vancouver Blazers1973-74 7340(6)5th in WHA West(interim coach)

References

  1. Donna O’Neil (March 28, 2007). "Former Bruins forward Johnny McKenzie teaches musicians the game of hockey". Archived from the original on December 5, 2013. Retrieved December 5, 2013.
  2. "Former Bruin Johnny 'Pie' McKenzie dead at 80". The Boston Globe. June 10, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018 via Boston.com.
  3. "Johnny McKenzie, 2-time Stanley Cup winner with Bruins, dies at 80". ESPN. AP. June 11, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  4. "Johnny McKenzie, who won 2 Cups with Bruins, dies at 80". Boston Herald. AP. June 11, 2018. Retrieved June 12, 2018.
  5. WHA Hall of Fame Members

Further reading

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