By Andrew Rankin - Metro Halifax
COLORADO - Nathan MacKinnon knows the real work starts now.
© Bill Kostroun
Nathan MacKinnon, a center, stands with coach Patrick Roy (left) and executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic after being chosen 1st overall in the first round of the NHL hockey draft, Sunday.
It’s not that the 17-year-old Cole Harbour native isn’t still charged about being the Colorado Avalanche’s No. 1 pick at the June 30 NHL draft in New Jersey, he just knows he’ll have to earn a spot on the team, like everyone else.
It won’t be easy.
“You can always get a little bigger and stronger and I know it’s a tough league to play in and it’s going to be a challenge,” said MacKinnon. “But I feel I can make the adjustments. By staying confident in my strengths I think I’ll be able to stick.”
The Halifax Mooseheads star returned to the Maritimes last week after a pressure packed few days in Denver where he was whisked from photo shoots, to press showings to meet and greets.
He joined fellow Cole Harbour native and Pittsburgh Penguins superstar Sidney Crosby in P.E.I for a few days of grueling training. According to MacKinnon, the talk was kept fairly light.
“We talked a little bit about the possibility of playing against each other next year, which would be cool, but really the focus was on training,” MacKinnon said. “He’s the hardest worker in hockey right now and I’m lucky to have had the opportunity to train with the best player in the game.”
After a few days at home hanging out with his family and friends, MacKinnon took off Monday for the Avalanche’s development camp.
He’s prepared to seize the moment in his own confident but quiet way.
“It’s a big challenge but it’s something I’ve worked my whole life for. I’m really excited about the chance to play and contribute with Colorado next season.”
He’s proud of what he’s accomplished in Halifax. But at the same time he knows it’s time to make the next step.
“I loved my two years with the Mooseheads, and I’ll miss that hometown spirit. But now I have a big challenge ahead of me.”