Former St. Lawrence forward and 100-point man Mike McKenzie recently finished his first professional season in the American minor hockey leagues. He's kept a journal account, which he agreed to share on this blog, throughout the season. He began the year with the ECHL's Florida Everblades and made several appearances for the AHL's Charlotte Checkers, where he recorded his first AHL goal. He finished his first pro season with 19 goals and 20 assists in 69 games between Florida and Charlotte.
Below is McKenzie's final entry for the 2010-11 season. To find more journals, search "Minor Updates" in the blog archive.
It has been a while since I last updated everyone, so let me take a little time here to wrap things up for the year and let everyone know what has been going on lately.
Last time I wrote, I was still recovering from an injury and not exactly sure how my season would end or where it would end. When the ECHL playoff rosters were set, I was still here in Charlotte and still injured, so the Everblades did not risk putting me on their roster knowing I would not be available for the first round of the playoffs. Once this happened I knew I had played my last game as an Everblade. The team was eliminated shortly after this, losing to Kalamazoo in the first round.
I'd like to take a second to thank all the Everblade fans for their support all year long, especially the booster club people who stuck with the team through the thick and thin, which cannot be said about everyone, specifically that plugger who sat in the offensive corner and loved yelling at all the players in his big, deep, tough manly voice. Tickets: $20. Nachos, Hot Dog, Five beers: $30. Spending 50 bucks to embarrass yourself in front of 5,000 people: Priceless :)
Looking back, Florida was a great place to start my pro career — great rink and facilities where I was able to develop as a player and truly “be a pro,” as my dad always says. I'd also like to thank the staff in Florida, especially Steve Passineau, who is the equipment manager. I've never seen a harder working guy than Steve-o, and all the stuff he did for us did not go unnoticed. Also, thanks to assistant coach Brad Tapper for working with me after every practice to help develop my game. My first AHL goal might as well been a pass from Tapps because we did that exact drill everyday after practice.
Once the Everblades finished their season, I knew the only way I would be playing another game this year would be if Charlotte had a number of injuries due to the fact I'm not on their playoff roster either. Staalzy and I were joking one day at practice a couple weeks ago about how we both technically aren't even on a team anymore and being “rosterless.” At times it was pretty tough and frustrating being injured while living in the hotel. The team would go on the road and I would be stuck by myself all weekend with not much to do and no car to take me anywhere. Luckily, I have the best family in the world and my mom, dad and brother came to visit me one weekend when the boys were on the road and I was stuck alone and injured. Eventually I started getting better and finally got fully healthy and was able to work out and skate again, which made everything better. Those first few skates back after doing nothing for three weeks were hell, but I did them happily knowing I was healthy and able to do what I love to do again.
Sitting out for a few weeks will really make you appreciate the game, that is for sure. Sometimes I still think about how I most likely won't play another hockey game this year or get a chance to play any playoff hockey and it frustrates me greatly, but for now I'm just sticking with the program and trying to support the Checkers in their playoff run. I've been using this time to try and get stronger with off-ice workouts and develop my game during on-ice sessions. I'd also like to thank the fans and staff in Charlotte. What a great city Charlotte is and the staff and players are so professional it is a pleasure going to the rink everyday with these guys.
Overall, it was a great rookie season for me. I learned so much about myself and the game. I know I grew as a player and even though the season's ending hasn't gone the way I wanted, I still feel like I have something to hang my hat on this year. I'm really looking forward to another great summer of training and making myself better. It is really exciting to think about improving my game. I feel like the sky is the limit and I will continue to dream big.
Thanks to everyone who took the time to read this stuff. It was a lot of fun to do and maybe one day I can go back and read this stuff, laugh and say, “Wow remember those days.” Who knows, maybe I will even keep it going next year. Enjoy the summer everyone, it's been a pleasure. Over and out.
*** If anyone has any questions or wants to send me any comments on this stuff feel free to contact Dan Cassavaugh (firstname.lastname@example.org">email@example.com) or find me on Twitter: @MikeMcKenzie11. I'd love to hear some feedback and comments.