The sports publication Mile High Sports named Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon Sportsperson of the Year for 2019.
Colorado Avalanche superstar Nathan MacKinnon is coming into his own. He’s finally getting the accolades he deserves. Hopefully he gets the accolades when it matters most — the Stanley Cup — and second most — the NHL Awards. However, we’ll take the attention he gets now.
One publication that’s having to sit up and take notice is Mike High Sports, a magazine for Colorado sports. MacKinnon has been featured in the magazine before. However, he’s finally won top honors.
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The magazine has named MacKinnon Sportsperson of the Year for 2019.
As the magazine points out, choosing Nate wasn’t a guarantee. Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and both Nolan Arenado (please don’t trade him) and Trevor Story of the Colorado Rockies also had great years last year.
I can’t speak exactly to how their years compared to MacKinnon’s. However, I can say that Nate crushed it in 2019. And, as Mile High Sports further points out, MacKinnon is one of the best hockey players in the world right now — really only behind Conor McDavid.
According to Terry Frei, who wrote the article, MacKinnon told him that his specialty is consistency:
"“It’s nice to have good years. I didn’t want to have just one good year and fade away after that. Obviously, being consistent is a tough thing in pro sports. It’s a tough schedule. There are a lot of variables. I pride myself on consistency.”"
Our Nova Scotian is correct, of course. Consistency is perhaps one of the hardest qualities in all of pro sports. Athletes simply run hot and cold.
That’s not to say MacKinnon doesn’t have his slumps. However, they’re not extended. Indeed, this season he hasn’t gone two games in a row without earning a point.
Let that sink in. Nathan MacKinnon has not had back-to-back games in which he did not earn at least a point. What’s more, his longest drought for goals is three games — and that happened only once.
That level of consistency is what’s led to MacKinnon’s having scored 30 goals by his 49th game of the season. That’s not a factor in Mile High Sports’ having named him Sportsperson of the Year, but it can hopefully lead to more accolades.
This bright future was never assured to MacKinnon. Sure, he went first-overall in 2013, but even that wasn’t a given. He wasn’t billed as a generational talent, and even GM Joe Sakic was leaning toward picking Seth Jones with the first-overall pick. However, according to Frei, then-coach Patrick Roy had his sights on MacKinnon, so we got him.
Generational, shmenerational. Sure, MacKinnon took a minute to gain his stride in the NHL. However, that’s the reward we get for showing some patience. No offence to McDavid, but I wouldn’t trade MacKinnon for anyone. He simply fits our team.
Of course, that’s at least partially by design. Even before Sakic traded Matt Duchene, he’d started building the team around MacK.
The switch happened in 2017 after the dreadful 48-Point Debacle Season. MacKinnon went from a career-high 24 goals his rookie year (and only 16 in the Debacle Year) to 39 goals! The next year he topped out at 41 goals.
This season, he’s on pace for a ridiculous 50. It makes you a little giddy to think that.
"“There’s only one me, good or bad. I’m not anybody else. I work really hard and I do a lot of things to get better . . . I don’t know if I’m going to be a Connor McDavid one day, but I’m going to be the best version of myself and I hope that can help turn this team into a championship team.”"
I can say, without reservation, that the “only” MacKinnon is good. Very good. Our MVP by a mile.
MacKinnon had doubts for a while. After his Calder Trophy rookie season, he seemed a middling player. He was in the 50-point to 60-point range — which isn’t shabby in the modern NHL. However, he wasn’t sure he could be dominant in the NHL.
Nathan MacKinnon is currently on pace for 120 points and, let me tell you, it was a little shocking to realize how quickly he’d earned 30 goals and that he is already at 72 points. Holy mother of the hockey gods, that’s good.
Sportsperson of the Year good. The Colorado Avalanche blossoms because MacKinnon has absolutely become a dominant force in the NHL.
We’ll get to see more of MacKinnon’s dominance when the team returns to action on February 1.