Exclusive: Curtis McKenzie Discusses Extension, "Hugely Talented" Incoming Rookies

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

It never should have been a question of whether No. 16 would return for the 2023-24 season. And, as it turns out, it really wasn't. The team told McKenzie just two days after Game 5's loss that they wanted him back, as they debriefed the season in exit interviews.

"We were happy to hear that," McKenzie told 100 Degree Hockey via phone over the weekend. "My agent and [Texas Stars GM Scott White] put a deal together pretty fast."

It's another two-year contract for the 32 year-old forward after completing a two-year pact with Texas that began in 2021. It's one of only a handful of two-year deals that Texas has handed out in team history, with the majority going to team captains.

"The security for two years of my age and at this level is very nice. Being able to go back to where we're familiar and where our kids are familiar, it's pretty special for our family."

McKenzie, who will certainly continue to wear the C for Texas, will have a large influx of new, young players to teach the ropes at the professional level. Some of them served as black aces in Texas while others were still finishing up their major junior seasons as the playoffs rolled on. 

Chase Wheatcroft, Francesco Arcuri and Artem Grushnikov were officially on the roster, but Christian Kyrou, Justin Ertel and Kyle McDonald were also there in non-roster roles. Big name forward Logan Stankoven also has the potential to start the season in the AHL.

"It's a big group of players. And hugely talented, from what I've heard. I think it'll be a huge turnover, but it'll be fun working with the young guys."

(Credit: Andy Nietupski/Texas Stars)

If things work as they have in the past, McKenzie will get the chance to join the NHL club for training camp on a PTO. Training camp this year is once again in Cedar Park.

"It's nice to get to Dallas just to meet with the guys right off. I'm not sure if they'll do it or not this year but you know, just having that time to get to know the guys throughout their training camp and get the familiarity is always nice."

Throwing in my author's voice here to say that I think Dallas should sign McKenzie to a PTO for the sake of consistency and the fact that he is the undisputed leader of the team that occupies the building where training camp will be held. Also they should dress him for the preseason game Dallas will play at H-E-B Center on September 24th. It will be the first NHL preseason game in Cedar Park in the team's history.

"Either way," said McKenzie. "I'm sure I'll be in attendance for that. That's [going to be] awesome."