McKenzie's teammates dubbed him "Pieface" for his teenage acne that lasted into his twenties but within a few years the nickname evolved to "Pie." After three years in the junior leagues, for which he starred with the St. Catharines TeePees of the OHA and led the league in goals and points in 1958, McKenzie made his NHL debut during the 1959 season 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 back to the minors, playing for 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 again during the 1964 season, once again with the Black Hawks, and two years later played for the New York Rangers for part of the 1966 season, halfway during which he was traded to the Rangers' arch-rivals, the Boston Bruins.
He was an immediate impact player in Boston, and 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 1968 season, scoring twenty-eight goals and gaining a reputation as a pesky, relentless hustler. He would score twenty-nine goals each of the next two seasons, and would win the accolade as Second Team All-Star in the 1970 season, when in the Stanley Cup playoffs he would score seventeen points in fourteen games, fourth on the team after Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and John Bucyk and a feat he would repeat in 1972. His best season statistically was the following year, when he scored thirty-one 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 again in 1972.
A notorious incident took place immediately after the Bruins defeated the Rangers in six games in the Stanley Cup finals in the latter year (winning the clinching game on the Rangers' home ice at Madison Square Garden), McKenzie skated to center ice, raised one arm in a Statue of Liberty pose, placing his other hand around his neck, making a "choke" gesture (alluding to the fact that the result of the series had left the Rangers still looking for their first Stanley Cup championship since 1940), then jumping up and down in a circle several times. This became known as the "McKenzie Choke Dance," or simply the "choke dance."
Following the Bruins second Stanley Cup championship in 1972, McKenzie was disgruntled at being left unprotected in the expansion draft, and though the Bruins did not lose him, he signed as player-coach with the Philadelphia Blazers of the newly-formed World Hockey Association (WHA). He continued to play effectively for the Blazers, the Minnesota Fighting Saints, the Cincinnati Stingers and finally the New England Whalers, and finished his career in the league's final season in 1979, having played in twenty-one major professional seasons.
In 2007, McKenzie was named as the coach of the Berklee Ice Cats, the newly-formed hockey team at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. He is currently the liaison for hockey development at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell.
Career Achievements and Trivia
- Played in 691 NHL games, totalling 206 goals, 268 assists and 917 penalty minutes.
- 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 -- unusually -- one of only three players whose number was retired by an NHL franchise for which he never actually 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.
|1956–57||St. Catharines TeePees||OHA||52||32||38||70||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|1957–58||St. Catharines TeePees||OHA||52||48||51||99||0||—||—||—||—||—|
|1958–59||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||32||3||4||7||22||2||0||0||0||2|
|1959–60||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||59||8||12||20||50||2||0||0||0||0|
|1960–61||Detroit Red Wings||NHL||16||3||1||4||13||—||—||—||—||—|
|1963–64||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||45||9||9||18||50||4||0||1||1||6|
|1964–65||St. Louis Braves||CHL||5||5||4||9||17||—||—||—||—||—|
|1964–65||Chicago Black Hawks||NHL||51||8||10||18||46||11||0||1||1||6|
|1965–66||New York Rangers||NHL||35||6||5||11||36||—||—||—||—||—|
|1975–76||Minnesota Fighting Saints||WHA||57||21||26||47||52||—||—||—||—||—|
|1976–77||Minesota Fighting Saints||WHA||40||17||13||30||42||—||—||—||—||—|
|1976–77||New England Whalers||WHA||34||11||19||30||25||5||2||1||3||8|
|1977–78||New England Whalers||WHA||79||27||29||56||61||14||6||6||12||16|
|1978–79||New England Whalers||WHA||76||19||28||47||115||10||3||7||10||10|
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