A long-standing rule set by Hockey Canada will prevent Halifax Mooseheads forward Nathan MacKinnon from playing in the 2012 Canada-Russia Challenge in his hometown this summer.
As reported by Metro Halifax on Wednesday, MacKinnon - the 16-year-old star who could go first overall in next year's NHL Draft - will not be able to take part in the four-game primer for the 2013 World Junior Hockey Championship.
The rule says players 17 and younger who have not been a part of Canada's summer Under-18 program are not eligible to participate in the Under-20 development camp. Hockey Canada announced earlier this month that the Canada-Russia Challenge - which has games at the Halifax Metro Centre on Aug. 13 and 14 - would replace its usual summer evaluation camp this year.
MacKinnon is eligible to take part in December's world junior selection camp, but will likely spend the summer preparing for the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament which takes place in Slovakia and the Czech Republic from Aug. 13 to 18.
"Obviously I am disappointed I cannot play," the Cole Harbour native told metronews.ca on Wednesday. "But at the end of day I still have an opportunity to hopefully get invited to (the) U-18 camp. In this case, it's a one-door-closes-another-opens type of situation."
MacKinnon, whose quick rise to stardom has drawn comparisons to fellow Cole Harbour native Sidney Crosby, scored 31 goals and 78 points in 58 games with the Mooseheads this season and tallied 28 points in 17 games during the QMJHL playoffs.
"It seems odd, especially in a year when they changed the rules (to replace the development camp)," Mooseheads owner Bobby Smith told Metro Halifax. "This and the Super Series and the camp in December are all good evaluation opportunities, so it surprises me a little."
Files from Metro Halifax at metronews.ca were used for this report.