Exactly two NHL players have been born in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia, a town of about 25,000 people on the Atlantic coast east of Halifax. One is Sidney Crosby, among the superstars of his generation, and future Hall of Famer. The other is Nathan MacKinnon.
MacKinnon, rookie for the upstart Colorado Avalanche, has been a standout at every level of hockey he has yet experienced. He is quickly making a name for himself on the national stage in 2013-14 as the 18 year old phenom capable of handling a speeding puck more deftly than Garfield handles a lasagna:
The lines and angles on that play are so perfect that they’d make an architect blush. And it is what we have come to expect from MacKinnon, himself barely old enough to ride a motorcycle unsupervised.
Open air hockey. It’s a good thing.
Pond hockey, obviously, has been a tradition for generations. Long before there were legitimate organized hockey leagues (we’re talking deep into the 1800’s), all hockey was outdoors. The game was slowly moved indoors, and it became the norm. Although there were occasional exhibition and college games played outside over the years, the first outdoor NHL game that actually counted was played in 2003 in Edmonton, wherein the Canadiens bested the Oilers. The NHL instituted its “Winter Classic” series five years later, and since then, occasional outdoor games have been a popular fixture. The same is true across central and northern Europe. Outdoor pro hockey was good in “Mystery, Alaska” and, as it turns out, it is good in real life too. Tonight’s Blackhawks versus Penguins game at Soldier Field has had its crowds thinned by frigid temperatures and inclement weather, but it maintains the trademark charm of outdoor hockey.
There is one other major American sport that has a robust outdoor history but is also played indoors. So why haven’t we seen the NBA show any love for open air basketball?
— Olli Jokinen, Finland center, on his team’s 5-0 thrashing of the U.S. in the bronze medal hockey game in Sochi
Photo credit: Bruce Bennett, AP