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Veteran Derek MacKenzie Perfect Fit For Young Cats

by Mike Lewis / Florida Panthers

When the Florida Panthers looked to the free agent pool last summer, General Manager Dale Tallon wanted to bolster his lineup with experience and leadership to help guide the Panthers young core of players.

Enter Derek MacKenzie.

Signed on July 1, 2014, Derek MacKenzie was recruited for his ‘lead-by-example’ attitude and ability to provide the Panthers with a physical edge every night.

A hard-hitting player who plays an up-tempo, aggressive style, MacKenzie began his reputation as a dependable defensive forward during his seven seasons with the Columbus Blue Jackets organization (2007-14). His willingness to sacrifice his body for the benefit of his team is what has made him a respected and valued member to the teams he has played for.

While not the most domineering figure on the ice, at 5-foot-11, 181-pounds, MacKenzie plays a game twice his size. MacKenzie’s 273 hits in the 2014-15 season ranked him fifth in the NHL, while also leading all Panthers forwards with 51 blocked shots.

An experienced penalty killer, MacKenzie has built a career out of reliability in the defensive zone. Finishing second on Florida in shorthanded ice time and first among Panthers forwards, MacKenzie logged 196:09 total TOI on the season’s penalty kill, while winning 48.1% of his face-offs taken shorthanded.

MacKenzie and teammate Brian Campbell were the only two Panthers to have perfect attendance this season. MacKenzie didn’t miss a game, playing in all 82 regular season contests for the first time in his career. The Sudbury, Ontario, native won a team-leading 53.1% of his face-offs taken, finishing the year with a faceoff percentage of over 50% for the fifth consecutive season.

Serving as Alternate Captain of the Panthers, MacKenzie has been an exemplary leader on and off the ice. MacKenzie’s dedication to his team has gone above and beyond the call of duty. In an emergency situation when Florida goalies Roberto Luongo and Al Montoya went down with injuries in the same game, MacKenzie volunteered to fill in between the pipes for the remainder of the game’s third period. Before MacKenzie could strap on the pads, Luongo returned to the game.

Off the ice, MacKenzie has represented the Panthers at community events throughout South Florida ranging from organizations like the Boys & Girls Club and Autism Speaks, while taking time to meet with Panthers Season ticket holders at special events all season long.

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