by Patrick Hoffman on 04/19/12 at 10:00 AM ET
If you are someone that has played hockey your whole life, I would imagine that it would be quite tough to one day decide to stop playing.
With that in mind, I reached out to Mike McKenzie (the eldest of Bob McKenzie’s sons), a professional hockey player who recently decided to retire from the game. Mike was kind enough to tell us about his thought process, what retired life is like and what he hopes his future holds.
PH: You are now a retired professional hockey player. What does it feel like?
MM: It still feels a bit weird sometimes but overall I’m pretty happy and ready to start a new chapter of my life. I’m sure there will be days when I wake up and miss getting to play but that’s life, not everyone can play forever.
PH: What made you decide to hangup the skates?
MM: It was a combination of things that led to my final decision. Injuries and the lifestyle were part of it but overall it was just more about me not being happy and my heart not being in it anymore. I always told myself if my heart wasn’t in it I wouldn’t play. Even though while you are in the moment hockey feels like the only thing important in life but the reality is there are other things out there that can make you just as happy. I have no regrets about my decision so I feel at ease with everything which is nice.
PH: Looking back at your hockey-playing career, what are some of your fondest memories?
MM: If you would have asked me this while I was still playing I would probably pick out a special goal I scored or a championship I won but now that it is all over I have a different answer. After I retired I got so many texts, facebook messages and tweets from all the people I crossed paths with throughout my hockey career. This is when it became clear to me the most important part of my career is all the good people I got to meet along the way and the impression I left on them. At the end of the day that’s about life and being a good person not just being good at a sport.
PH: What is some of the best advice you received while being a professional hockey player? How has that advice served you today?
MM: The two biggest things I will take away from my playing career are work ethic and mental toughness. My dad taught me the importance of both these and without them I would have never even made it out of minor hockey. Both of them can be translated to anything you do and I think someone who has both of these will be successful in whatever they chose to do.
PH: With a clean slate ahead for you, what are you looking to do with the rest of your life?
MM: I plan on getting into coaching. I have always wanted to get involved with this and it is a great way to stay involved in the game and use your knowledge of the game to help others develop theirs. I’m really looking forward to getting started and climbing the ladder just like a player does.
PH: Is there anything else you’d like to share with Kukla’s Korner readers?
MM: Follow me on twitter: @MikeMcKenzie11.
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Patrick has a tremendous passion for hockey. Besides covering the Rangers and the NHL for Kukla's Korner, you can also find Patrick's work over at Sportsnet.ca, The Red Light District Hockey Blog, NHL Home Ice, and Liam Maguire's Ultimate Hockey web site.
Prior to writing for the above mentioned outlets, you could find Patrick's musings at hockey web sites/outlets such as TheHockeyNews.com, TheFourthPeriod.com, Spector's Hockey, Hokeja Vestnesis, Blueshirt Bulletin, SNYRangersBlog.com and many more.
For questions, comments and hip checks, feel free to e-mail Patrick at email@example.com.