Colorado Avalanche rookie Nathan MacKinnon didn't take much time to celebrate his 18th birthday on Sept. 1. The top pick in the 2013 NHL Draft spent the week training in Vail, Colo., with a number of NHL players, including Avalanche teammate Matt Duchene.
After spending some time getting to know his new teammates, MacKinnon also got to enjoy the local sports scene when he attended the Denver Broncos game at Sports Authority Field at Mile High. It was a fun night for the Nova Scotia native, as the Broncos opened the season by beating the Baltimore Ravens 49-27 on Sept. 5.
"I got here a few days early and went out to dinner with a few [teammates]. We went to the Broncos game the other night with them as well. It's nice to meet the team," MacKinnon said Sunday at the team's rookie camp. "It was my first football game. It's been a lot of fun so far."
MacKinnon was named the MVP of the 2013 Memorial Cup tournament and is expected to make the Avalanche out of training camp. But that assurance of a roster spot did nothing to change his approach to summer training. Despite being caught in a whirlwind of post-draft publicity, MacKinnon kept up with his offseason regimen, which included time working with NHL players including fellow Nova Scotia native Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Edmonton Oilers center Sam Gagner.
Now that training camp is around the corner, the rookie said he doesn't plan on changing his approach to the game.
"I'm going to try to keep it simple and try to get better every day. I'm going to work my hardest and hopefully my skill can come up from that," MacKinnon said. "I'm not going to try to do too much. Just play my own game and not try to change too much."
MacKinnon said he is looking forward to working with new Avalanche coach Patrick Roy. One of the greatest goaltenders in hockey history, Roy is very familiar with MacKinnon, having faced off against him in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where Roy was the owner/general manager/coach of the Quebec Remparts and MacKinnon starred with the Halifax Mooseheads.
"I think he's confident that I can handle this. I've been in the spotlight for a while now and I think I've adjusted pretty well to it," MacKinnon said. "A guy like that, he's been very successful in the NHL and he knows what it's like to be under the microscope. I'm sure he's going to help me along the way."
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