The NHL is not an organization that most sports fans instinctively associate with compelling player personalities. If we’re being honest, the NHL’s not really an organization that most sports fans think about at all. But the way I see it, just because the inclination of professional hockey players is to shy away from the spotlight – the NHL is teeming with Canadians and Scandinavians after all – that doesn’t mean that the league isn’t filled with its share of strange and engrossing figures.
Case in point: Colorado Avalanche superstar, Nathan MacKinnon.
A former teammate of MacKinnon’s, Nikita Zadorov, recently sat down for a podcast interview where he spoke candidly about the unique habits, lifestyle and temperament of one of the NHL’s best players.
From where I sit, this transcript is an undeniably fascinating piece of character study. It’s not about rooting for or against MacKinnon either, not when the option exists to remain neutral and to simply account for this added context when observing his presence and spirit going forward. For some in MacKinnon’s bubble, he will inspire & motivate, and for others, he will antagonize & crush; the trick for MacKinnon is ensuring the former are teammates, and the latter are opponents. It’s likely this is easier said than done.
Sports were built to measure success and failure: in eight seasons as a professional, MacKinnon sits just a few points shy of averaging a point-per-game for his career, an exclusive threshold in the NHL, reserved for the very best; in eight seasons as a professional, MacKinnon has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs. This is the current reality in which MacKinnon lives, but it’s not the one in which he intends to depart.
The Avs’ roster is loaded with talent and aiming to make another run at the Stanley Cup in 2022, and I’m as keen as anyone to watch the season play out.
Addendum: In the same podcast appearance, Nikita Zadorov relayed a few more anecdotes about a memorable teammate, this time eccentric defenseman Duncan Keith, whom Zadorov shared the ice with last season after being traded to the Chicago Blackhawks. Enjoy.