DROP THE MIKE

With mega-contract from the Avs, Nathan MacKinnon gets his due

Sep 21, 2022, 6:31 AM
Nathan MacKinnon...
Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

The worst-kept secret in hockey has been the impending Nathan MacKinnon contract that would make him the NHL’s highest-paid player. Now that it’s official, it doesn’t minimize the enormity of the deal, and how much MacKinnon deserves it.

It was only a year and a half ago when MacKinnon was in agony. His Avs had just underachieved again in a playoff loss to Las Vegas and Nate was admitting that going into his ninth year in the league, he hadn’t accomplished (bleep).

Now here he is, a Stanley Cup champion and his widely accepted place as one of the top three players in the sport cemented with the contract to prove it.

I’m happy MacKinnon got his contract. This wasn’t like the Russell Wilson debate. There is no arguing about Nate’s place among the best players in the NHL. I’m happier MacKinnon is a Stanley Cup champ.

I don’t like seeing great players burdened by playoff failures. I understand that, for better or worse, all-time greatness usually requires winning a championship. It may not be fair, and I’m open to other ways to define it, but until a better way comes along, the discussion among the best of the best usually comes down to athletes who have won it all.

There’s another reason I’m glad MacKinnon has climbed to the top of the mountain. This guy burns hot. He’s demanding of himself and his teammates. At times, it has appeared MacKinnon’s approach to greatness is joyless. Of all the indelible images from the Avs’ Stanley Cup run, one of my favorites is seeing the smiles and unadulterated joy on MacKinnon’s face and the boyish fun he had celebrating the Cup.

MacKinnon is on the fast track to the Hockey Hall of Fame. He’s on pace to go down as one of the game’s all-time greats. For a time, he can claim to being the highest-paid player in the history of the sport.

These are heady times for MacKinnon. He deserves it. This is his moment.

***

Drop the Mike

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With mega-contract from the Avs, Nathan MacKinnon gets his due