A version of the following story appeared in the 2016-17 third edition of AVALANCHE, the official game magazine of the Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club. For more feature stories, purchase a copy of the magazine during Avs home games at Pepsi Center. All proceeds from game-magazine sales support youth hockey associations in Colorado.
Nathan MacKinnon was only 17 years old when the Colorado Avalanche picked him No. 1 overall in the 2013 NHL Draft.
The forward entered the NHL straight from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he totaled 75 points (32 goals and 43 assists) in only 45 games during the 2012-13 campaign while playing for his hometown Halifax Mooseheads.
MacKinnon has come a long way since draft day. He signed a seven-year contract with the Avs this past summer and competed for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
ColoradoAvalanche.com talked with the Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, native about some of his first experiences in hockey and with the Avalanche.
How did you get into skating?
"My dad put me on skates, and there was a little pond where my first house was. I was 2 years old when I started skating."
What was is it like playing for the Halifax Mooseheads?
"It was awesome; I grew up watching them. I watched them get very far many times as a kid and to win the Memorial Cup with them was very special for me and the city."
What is your relationship like with Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby? You went from having his poster in your room to training with him.
"It's fun. He is a good guy to work out and train with, and obviously, the best in the world so it's fun. We have a lot of fun together. I met him so long ago now; it was pretty cool when I first started hanging out with him, but I don't even think about it anymore. It's pretty weird that I used to idolize him because now we are pretty tight."
What was draft day like?
"That was cool, but it was a long day. I remember I was doing media stuff for several hours afterward. Getting back to the hotel, I got to reflect on what just happened and how amazing it was. To have gone first overall to Colorado was cool, especially having Joe Sakic there."
What happened in your first NHL game?
"We played Anaheim, and we won 6-1. It was pretty great and an unbelievable experience. I was pretty nervous, but it was a lot of fun."
How did you score your first NHL goal?
"It was in Washington, and it was against Michal Neuvirth. I got a good pass by Paul Stastny, and I scored from the slot on the power play. It was awesome."
Being so young and coming into the NHL, was there anyone that helped mentor you? Did you have any role models on the team?
"Yeah, I lived with Jean-Sebastien Giguere my first year. He was great for me, because he showed me how to be a pro on and off the ice. I lived with his family. He has a great family, so I would say he was a role model for me."
What is your pre-game routine like?
"I eat, pre-game nap, wake up, get a coffee and then go to the game."
What do you like to do in your spare time?
"I love golf. I've tried taking golf lessons, but I'm still not that good. I'm working on getting better. I'm still better than Gabe Landeskog and way better than Tyson Barrie, but not better than Dutchy (Matt Duchene), that's for sure."