Puck Daddy chats with Nathan MacKinnon about being an Avalanche fan, rookie star pressures

While the composite hockey stick has taken over the game, the days of the wood stick haven't been erased from memory just yet.

Take, for example, 17-year old Nathan MacKinnon of the Colorado Avalanche. The No. 1 overall selection in the June NHL Entry Draft grew up using one until he was around nine years old. Somewhere, Al MacInnis smiles.

But times, they are a-changin'. Wood sticks are just memories and the lighter composite twigs have taken over.

In May, MacKinnon, along with fellow top picks Jonathan Drouin and Seth Jones, signed an equipment deal with Reebok-CCM to begin using their products, including the RBZ skates and RBZ Stage 2 stick.

"I had a choice," MacKinnon said Thursday during a phone interview. "I could have chose a couple different companies, but the product is definitely the best. It suits my game very well."

A little over two weeks since draft day, MacKinnon has been busy with media obligations and signing his entry-level contract with the Avalanche. Now that that hoopla is over with, he's able to enjoy the rest of his off-season in peace.

"Absolutely," he said. "This is the great part of it. All the build up was very exciting, but it feels really good to settle in and get ready for the season."

We spoke with MacKinnon on Thursday about his new equipment deal, the pressures of being a No. 1 overall pick, how he became an Avalanche fan as a kid and more.


Q. How does a kid from Nova Scotian end up becoming an Avs fan? Was it basically going for the top team at the time when you were younger?

MACKINNON: Yeah, I think so. I really liked the skill team. I was only a kid, but I liked guys who were fast and would score goals. That was kind of their identity. They were definitely a very cool team to watch. One of the best in that era.

You've had a lot of attention since a young age. How did you not allow that to affect your development on the ice?

Getting that attention at a young age helped me grow up a little bit and handle the pressure a bit more. I'm OK with that kind of stuff.

With the technology that goes into making equipment these days, what is it about the RBZ stuff that suits your game?

The skates are not too stiff and not too soft. For me, I like to be a very explosive player. They're stiff enough that they'll hold me in and really give me balance and lots of power. With the stick, they're not lying when they say it really launches the puck. I have a very hard shot with it. I think anybody who's ever used it will agree with me that it's got a great feel to it.

Having spoken with players, some are very finicky with their equipment, always making subtle tweaks. Are you one of those players?

I'm not too picky, to be honest with you. How it's made is how I like it. I don't change around too much.

What's the process like? When you're trying to find the right fit for a stick or a skate, how pairs of skates are you trying out? How many sticks are you going through?

I don't switch around too much. I always like the new stuff and like I said, I'm not too picky with my gear. Whatever's new I like to use it. I'll try a pair of skates a couple of times and if I like them I'll use them. If not, I'll just go back to my old ones. Most of the time it works. With the RBZ, it kind of clicked right away.

Being a No. 1 overall pick and joining a team with young guys like Matt Duchene, Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O'Reilly, do you feel any added pressure on yourself to help turns things around for the Avalanche?

I'm there to help. I know there's going to be a very strong team there. We have all the potential to have a very solid team for the next decade. Hopefully we can have a good start next year and build from there. For me, I'm going there to help. I think it adds less pressure because there's very talented guys playing there.

What's the first big thing you plan to buy with your new contract?

Hopefully I can get a truck when I go out to Colorado. I've always wanted one.

Related coverage on Yahoo! Sports:
NHL releases 2013-14 schedule, new division names
NHL to compete in 2014 Sochi Olympics
Dustin Brown gets eight-year extension with Kings

What to Read Next