Nashville, Tenn. (June 22, 2023) – Incoming Nashville Predators General Manager Barry Trotz announced today that the team has hired Derek MacKenzie as an assistant coach.
“Derek MacKenzie’s track record as a player and coach in the NHL makes him a valuable addition to our organization,” Predators Head Coach Andrew Brunette said. “Having worked closely with him on an NHL bench before, I’ve been fortunate enough to see his leadership qualities firsthand and know he will develop strong connections and relationships with our players and staff. I’m excited to reunite with him here in Nashville and see him become a big asset for our team.”
MacKenzie, 42 (6/11/81), enjoyed a 16-year NHL career as a player and joins the Predators after serving as head coach of the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves in 2022-23. He led Sudbury to the OHL Playoffs last season after going 31-28-6-3 (71 points), finishing third in the league’s Central Division. The Wolves had two players finish in the top-25 in OHL scoring – with four skaters tallying at least 20 goals – and had five players coached by MacKenzie land in NHL Central Scouting’s final rankings ahead of the 2023 NHL Draft.
Prior to MacKenzie’s time in Sudbury, he spent three seasons as an assistant coach for the Florida Panthers, working alongside Brunette on the team’s coaching staff from 2019-22. The Panthers won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2021-22 – with Brunette serving as interim head coach during the majority of the campaign – after going 58-19-6 (122 points) while leading the NHL in goals (337) and posting a power-play percentage of 24.4 percent, tied for the League’s fourth-best mark. Florida reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs in all three of MacKenzie’s seasons behind the bench.
As a player, the 5-foot-11, 177-pound center appeared in 611 career NHL games with Atlanta, Columbus and Florida from 2001-19, posting 125 points (51g-74a). He spent his final five seasons with the Panthers, where he captained the team from 2016-18 and served as an alternate captain from 2014-16. Known for his work as a defensive centerman and tenacity on the penalty kill, MacKenzie recorded eight straight seasons with at least 120 hits from 2010-18; his 1,454 hits during that time frame were the 10th-most among NHL skaters. In the face-off circle, he won at least 50 percent of his draws in 11 of his seasons in which the stat was tracked, led by a career-high 59.4 percent success rate with the Blue Jackets in 2012-13.
During his time with Columbus, MacKenzie had Predators Assistant Coach Todd Richards as his head coach for three seasons (2011-14); Predators Assistant Coach Dan Hinote as his assistant coach for four seasons (2010-14); and was teammates with Predators forward Ryan Johansen for three seasons (2011-14).
MacKenzie also appeared in 550 career AHL games with Chicago and Syracuse, recording 332 points (147g-185a). He won the Calder Cup with Chicago in 2001-02, was named to the AHL All-Star Classic in 2008-09 and twice served as a captain in 2005-06 (Chicago) and 2009-10 (Syracuse). Internationally, the Sudbury, Ont., native represented Canada at the 1998 U-18 World Championship, winning gold, and at the 2001 World Junior Championship, earning bronze.