“What goes around, comes around” That’s the advice that Derek MacKenzie’s mother used to give him growing up. If you put your head down and work hard, eventually you will be rewarded. That hard work has finally paid off as he recently signed a new one-way contract with the Columbus Blue Jackets where he will earn $2 million over the next 2 season.
“It was a long time getting to this point, but looking back on it, it just made it that much sweeter and I wouldn’t really have it any other way,” says Derek.
It’s been over 11 years since Wolves’ alumni Derek Mackenzie stepped on the ice in a Wolves uniform. Since then he has played countless games between the AHL and NHL including wearing uniforms for the Chicago Wolves, Syracuse Crunch, Atlanta Thrashers and the Columbus Blue Jackets. During his first season with the Chicago Wolves in 2001-02 he helped the team earn Calder Cup rings as AHL champions. In the 2008 off-season, MacKenzie signed a two-way two year deal with Columbus.
Derek played four seasons with the Sudbury Wolves between 1997 and 2001, where he helped the team make the post-season each year as well as represented the Wolves on Team Canada at the 2001 U-20 World Junior Championship in Russia, bringing home a bronze medal.
Derek has a hard time picking just one favourite memory of his time here in Sudbury, however if he had to pick one it would have to be one of his last games as a Wolf. “As a graduating player they usually have a night that is dedicated to you,” stated Derek. “I remember having lots of family and friends there during one of my last games for the Sudbury Wolves and that is something I will never forget.”
Derek continues to keep in contact with some of his former Wolves teammates including Mike Fisher (Nashville Predators), Andrew Raycroft (Dallas Stars) and Taylor Pyatt (Phoenix Coyotes).
Even though he has moved on to bigger and better things, he continues to follow the Wolves as much as he can. “I always have my phone with me and I spend a lot of time on the road and on the internet. This year I watched Sgarbossa run for the point championship and last season when they beat Ottawa 4 straight, I watched as much as I could,” says Derek. “Unfortunately in Columbus, we haven’t made the playoffs the last couple years, but fortunately that means that I can get home and see a game.”
If Derek could give one piece of advice to young kids that want to pursue a career in the game of hockey, it would be that if it’s something they really want it’s not going be easy but it’s definitely possible … possible for anybody. “In my case it really came down to not necessarily being the best guy on the team and not necessarily being the guy who scored the most goals, but at the end of the day I was someone who wanted to play and stuck with it. I played AAA here in Sudbury with a lot of guys who were better than me, but at the end of the day it was something I wanted to stick with and it paid off.”
Derek spends the off-season in Sudbury with his wife and two young children. He enjoys spending time with family and friends up at the cottage and during the week he works out in the gym trying to get ready for next season. He also recently helped organize the Hats for Heroes campaign in Sudbury, with a golf tournament aimed to raise funds for children on the local cancer ward.
“This was the second year we ran the golf tournament and it went really well. It shouldn’t surprise me, but it still does of how generous some people are here in Sudbury and how willing they are to jump on board when it comes to something like this,” said Derek. “It’s really nice to have Wolves’ alumni Nick and Marcus Foligno and Zach Stortini in town to help. Even though we didn’t get to play together, we all kind of share the same bond in the sense we all played for the Wolves and we all get along pretty well. During the season we spend a lot of time with kids and different charities, but it’s nice to come back home and do something like this for the local kids here. At the end of the day, our tournament raised around $20,000.”