2013 prospect MacKinnon used to Crosby comparisons

TSN.ca Staff
2/3/2012 10:31:20 PM
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Nathan MacKinnon is the kind of hockey player who puts his hometown on the map, but as good as he is, MacKinnon's hometown is already spoken for.

"Anybody that asked where he was from, all he had to say was Cole Harbour," MacKinnon's mother Kathy told TSN. "Everyone in the hockey community knew exactly where Cole Harbour was."

The 16-year-old MacKinnon is from Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. He grew up a short drive from Sidney Crosby's home and played his minor hockey in the same rink, for the same team.

"Everyone wanted to be Sidney Crosby when they grew up, and do some of the things he's done," MacKinnon said. "I think, as you get older, you realize some of those things are unreachable."

It wasn't long after MacKinnon started playing hockey that he had people talking himself.

"Nathan MacKinnon's been a big name around here for a long time," Halifax Mooseheads general manager Cam Russell said. "Like Crosby, he's one of these kids; he was great in atom, he was great in peewee, and the further he moved up, the better he got."

At 14, MacKinnon left home for prep school at Shattuck St. Mary's in Minnesota, like Crosby before him. And last spring, MacKinnon was selected first overall in the QMJHL draft, just as Crosby had been eight years earlier.

Comparisons between the two were inevitable.

"There's been a lot of [QMJHL] first overall picks and not one is as good as Sidney Crosby," MacKinnon said laughing. "I guess I'm just another one of those first overall picks that aren't as good as Sidney Crosby.

"We took the same path, but obviously he did a little more damage along the way than I did."

Crosby certainly casts a long shadow. At Cole Harbour Place, where he and MacKinnon played as kids, Crosby's sweater is ubiquitous, both on the ice and behind the glass. In the same building where MacKinnon now plays with Halifax, the Nova Scotia Sports Hall of Fame has all of Crosby's remarkable accomplishments on display.

"If I was from Moncton, I know these comparisons would never happen," MacKinnon said. "I'd just be a regular hockey player and not the next coming of Sidney Crosby."

MacKinnon, though, is a rare and elite talent in his own right.

"He's come in here at 16 years old and he's led our team in scoring," Russell said. "He's been our best player for the whole season."

MacKinnon is a unique player, who can dictate the game with his skill, hard-driving style, and speed.

It won't be known until 2013, but MacKinnon is also a top candidate to be first overall pick in the NHL draft, just like Crosby before him.

"Sidney Crosby is a great player, Nathan MacKinnon is on his way to becoming a great player," Russell stated. "Both very different in styles, but both franchise players."

From SportsCentre feature produced by Matt Cade

Nathan MacKinnon (Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)


(Photo: Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)
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