KUSA - Just days before Nathan MacKinnon skated in an Avalanche sweater for the first time he was watching another No. 1 overall pick and seeing how he went about his business. That guy goes by the name of Peyton Manning.
"It was fun," MacKinnon said. Several of his new teammates took the rookie to the Broncos game for a chance to bond and take in his new city. It was fine he didn't get noticed by fans yet, he was happy just to watch history being made.
"Manning was amazing that game. It was pretty cool to get to go to a Broncos game, it was my first football game," MacKinnon continued.
The new No. 29 has much to learn - more so on the ice and living up to the hype that comes with being the top pick in the National Hockey League draft than the Broncos' Super Bowl chances. Which is more realistic is up for debate, even though the choice after Thursday seems rather obvious. On Sunday, MacKinnon wasn't worried about either of those scenarios.
The southern Nova Scotia native had already impressed legend Joe Sakic and company enough to draft him with the first overall pick. He was not trying to be anybody else but himself on the ice at day one of rookie camp.
"I'm going to try to keep it simple and get better every day. I going to do the systems and work my hardest and hope my skill carryover to that," MacKinnon said. "I'm not going to try to do too much out here. I'm going to try to play my own game and not change too much."
The promise of this dynamic prospect is something MacKinnon has been getting used to, not just since he was drafted but growing up as well. Being from the same town as Sidney Crosby, playing the same style of game and his youth - he just turned 18 years old on September 1st - will all make the transition to the NHL a little more difficult.
But like Manning, MacKinnon's new head coach Patrick Roy is well aware of what it means to be a prominent athlete in this sports-crazed Mile High City and the expectations that come with it.
"He's confident I can handle this. I've been in the spotlight a while now and I think I've adjusted pretty well to it, but a guy like that, been very successful in the NHL," the rookie said of the longtime Avalanche goalie. "He knows what it's like to be under the microscope so I'm sure he's going to help me out as well."
After one day as an Avalanche forward, a chance MacKinnon had long awaited, he still has a long way to go. Yet, as he saw in person Thursday night, exceeding the hype is possible.
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