I started writing this piece before Derek MacKenzie unceremoniously left the Blue Jackets. Reading it I started thinking to myself about not only the player but the person. He always had great character and seemed like the quintessential Jacket. Hard working, hard hitting and great with the fans. He was a player that never quit on a play and it showed when he played, during a mostly dark era for the team. The fact of the matter is, though he was a fourth line player who saw minimal minutes, he should be replaceable given that the right player fills in.
This was one of the best years that he has had with the Blue Jackets, not since 2010-11 when he worked very often with Rick Nash (say what?). He had 18 points this season, providing 9 goals and 9 assists. As fourth line production goes it is slightly above average but nothing to write home about. He played a big role on the penalty kill playing 33.6% of his time on ice on the PK. Normally in this section I would bring up his advanced stats but they aren’t anything special. He is the intangible player that fills up many rosters in professional sports.
The question that needs to be asked and never seems to get answered, is how much are intangibles worth? You can only have so many leaders on a team, somebody has to follow. A team full of leaders is a paradox many don’t have the luxury of having, maybe then, leadership can finally have a tangible value. Heart and soul is great but natural skill trumps it. Compete level doesn’t put the puck in the back of the net. GM’s obviously put it in extremely high regard but why? Why not have as much skill on the ice at any given time as you can manage. MacKenzie is a great litmus test for that kind of player. He left it all out on the ice every night, something life long Jackets fans won’t soon forget. I say this with the utmost sincerity, best of luck Derek down in Florida.