COLE HARBOUR - For Nathan MacKinnon, Cole Harbour Place represents a piece of himself.
© AP Photo/David Zalubowski
Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon.
He established life long friendships within those walls, it’s where he’s set his hockey foundation.
Some of his finest memories can be traced back to his earliest hockey years, when the Cole Harbour Red Wings captured the Atlantic Bantam AAA Championship in 2008.
“That’s just one, there are so many memories that are really important to me,” said MacKinnon.
That helps to explain his attachment to this year’s Kraft Hockeyville project. He’s one of five NHL players who are promoting the program, which has set aside $1 million toward upgrading community rinks across Canada. The nomination process runs until Feb. 9. From there a panel of judges combined with voters from across the country determine who gets what.
“I’m from a relatively small town; I’m proud to promote Atlantic Canada. I think our rinks serve a really important place in communities by bringing people together, symbolizing the community. Hockey is our past time. Everyone can go and play and share their passion for the game.”
After being selected first overall by the Colorado Avalanche last June, he’s gone on to lead all NHL rookies in scoring with 35 points, 14 of which have been in his last 15 games.
“It’s been a lot fun. I have had time to adjust and figure out the NHL. I’ve been getting more comfortable with the game. I’ve gotten a lot better, a lot better all-round player.
“I have had a little more confidence and I think that’s made the difference for me as of late.”
And he doesn’t hide his excitement over being the frontrunner to win the Calder Trophy, given to the league’s top rookie.
“It would be pretty cool accomplishment, there’s no question about that. You hear about it a lot. You see it on Twitter. It puts even more pressure on you. But I try not to think about it too much.”
His biggest NHL moment came on Jan. 10, against the New York Islanders. Blowing past the Islanders’ defencemen, MacKinnon topping it off highlight reel style- top shelf.
“It was my favourite one, for sure. To have tons of fans on their feet cheering for you… I’m just an 18-year-old kid, and it gave me goose bumps.”