MacKinnon’s consistency earns praise from peers

A finalist for the 2023-24 Ted Lindsay Award, former teammate Alex Kerfoot and fellow Colorado Avalanche forward Ross Colton praise Nathan MacKinnon’s habits both on and off the ice.

MacKinnon’s consistency earns praise from peers

All photos courtesey of Getty Images

Nathan MacKinnon operates at one speed.

Whether it’s practice, the first game of the year, the final game of the regular season or the Stanley Cup Playoffs the Colorado Avalanche forward who is one of three finalists for the 2023-24 Ted Lindsay Award has developed a reputation among his peers as the ultimate workhorse.

Alex Kerfoot, who played two seasons with MacKinnon in Colorado (2017-19), offered up insight into what .

“Preparation and competitiveness you see it, day in and day out with Nathan,” said Kerfoot, now a member of the Utah Hockey Club.

“The guys who are the best in the world are able to do what they do on a consistent basis. It is no accident that players like Nathan are at a high level over the course of an 82-game season. The work that is put in daily is amazing.”

“What they eat, how they train, what they do on an off day, how hard they work at practice their habits are elite all goes into making them special players.”

The alternate captain for the Avalanche also leads by example off the ice.

When the news became official that Ross Colton had been traded to Colorado from Tampa Bay on June 28, 2023, the forward’s phone worked overtime in the hours following.

One of the first messages he received was from MacKinnon.

“When I came at the Avs, Nate was one of the first guys to text me and welcome me to the team,” recalled Colton.

MacKinnon, who joins Nikita Kucherov and Auston Matthews as one this season’s TLA finalists, didn’t stop there.

“He took me out golfing a couple of times when I got to Colorado. He knew I was stepping into a different role in Colorado, so he wanted to make sure I was comfortable. He was so awesome when I came to the Avs.”

Colton, who won a Stanley Cup with the Lightning in 2021, took notice of MacKinnon the first time he practiced with his new team.

“Nate’s work ethic is off the charts,” said Colton. “He’s one of those players who is the first on the ice at practice and the last one to leave. He’s always working on something.”

MacKinnon is also doing it at full throttle.

“Nate is always going top speed, whether it’s cutbacks in the corner or something else. He’s always in the zone.”

MacKinnon’s peers took notice of his unrelenting ethic paying off this season, former teammates and beyond.

MacKinnon skated in all 82 regular-season games for the Avalanche in 2023-24, and established career highs in goals (51), assists (89) and points (140 points) the latter of which set a new single-season franchise record.

The pride of Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, started the season on a 35-game home-point streak, establishing the second-longest such streak in NHL history next to Wayne Gretzky’s 40-game home-point streak in 1988-89.

In his 11th NHL season, MacKinnon led all players in even-strength points (92), all forwards in total time on ice (1,870:46) and ranked first in shots on goal (405).

“He is one of those players who is a bigger guy, but he skates like the wind,” said Colton.

“Nate drives the play up the ice and makes guys around him so much better. He has the skill, but he plays at such a fast pace and can harness that into being a difference-maker every time he’s on the ice.

“He’s also a vocal guy and a great leader.”

Kerfoot continues to marvel at MacKinnon’s unwavering commitment to raising the bar.

“It’s incredibly impressive to watch someone continue to want to elevate their game,” praised Kerfoot.

“He has that drive and desire to be the best.

“That is what makes players like Nathan the best of the best. The preparation and drive throughout the year is what makes someone like him so gifted.”

And a respected contemporary throughout the league.

A three-time Ted Lindsay Award finalist (also 2017-18 and 2019-20), MacKinnon is seeking his first award and looks to become the second Avalanche player (Joe Sakic, 2000-01) to receive the game’s most cherished individual honour.

“The biggest thing when you are around players like Nathan is that they bring you into the fight,” said Kerfoot.

“You see what he does, and it inspires you to bring your best.”

The 2023-24 Ted Lindsay Award recipient will be revealed June 27 at the NHL Awards in Las Vegas.