According to a report from Dave Stubbs of NHL.com, former Boston Bruins forward Johnny “Pie” McKenzie has passed away at age 80.
Deepest condolences to the family and to the NHLBruins on the passing of Johnny “Pie” McKenzie at age 80 following a lengthy illness. Pie was a spark plug on Boston’s 1970 and ’72 StanleyCup champions, a player endlessly respected by teammates and opponents alike.
McKenzie played 691 career NHL games for the Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings and New York Rangers, but is most known for his seven seasons with the Bruins, with which he won a Stanley Cup in 1970 and 1972. In total, the man they called “Pie” scored 206 goals and 474 career points. Pie also played 477 games in the World Hockey Association (WHA) following his NHL career for the Philadelphia Blazers turned Vancouver Blazers, Minnesota Fightning Saints, Cincinnati Stringers and the New England Whalers. In fact, Pie was inducted into the WHA Hall of Famer in 2010 as a “Legend of the Game”.
While most hockey fans know McKenzie as a hardworking, and diligent checker, he also had a flair for the dramatic. Check out this dig on the Rangers following the Bruins' '72 Cup win:
A notorious incident took place immediately after the Bruins defeated the Rangers in six games in the Stanley Cup finals in the latter year (winning the clinching game on the Rangers' home ice at Madison Square Garden), McKenzie skated to center ice, raised one arm in a Statue of Liberty pose, placing his other hand around his neck, making a "choke" gesture (alluding to the fact that the result of the series had left the Rangers still looking for their first Stanley Cup championship since 1940), then jumping up and down in a circle several times. This became known as the "McKenzie Choke Dance," or simply the "choke dance."
McKenzie was a plucky and resilient player who thrived in the shadows, scoring big goals and putting up big points but never quite getting the limelight like teammates Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito and Johnny Bucyk. From 1967-1971, McKenzie scored no fewer than 28 goals in a season. After being left exposed in the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft, a disgruntled McKenzie left the Bruins organization for the WHA, but eventually patched things up with the team and eventually settled into the Boston area after retirement. The 80 year old passed away surrounded by family in Boston on June 8th, 2018 after a lengthy battle with an unspecified illness.