There’s little doubt at this stage of his very young career that Nathan MacKinnon is destined for stardom. He has yet to see his 17th birthday, but he’s already being touted as the potential first-overall pick in the 2013 NHL draft. This summer though, the Halifax Mooseheads phenom was in the spotlight for something other than hockey when he made his first foray into acting on the CBC television show Mr. D.
“It’s was different,” said MacKinnon of the acting experience. “It’s a comedy show, so it’s pretty hard not to laugh when (show lead) Gerry Dee is making jokes all the time. It’s pretty exciting though.”
The show – shot on location in Halifax– is set in a high school. And while MacKinnon can’t divulge the specifics of his scenes, he said the part wasn’t really that much of a stretch since he’s playing a student-athlete.
“It was definitely an unbelievable experience and I had a lot of fun acting,” said MacKinnon.
“I said a couple lines and I was there for a couple scenes.”
The episode featuring MacKinnon and graduating Mooseheads captain, Cameron Critchlow, is expected to air during the show’s second season which begins in January.
But don’t expect the Cole Harbour, N.S., native to give up hockey for Hollywood any time soon. He’s currently in Toronto to take part in Hockey Canada’s under-18 camp in preparation for the Ivan Hlinka memorial tournament, which begins Aug. 13 in Piestany, Slovakia and Breclav, Czech Republic.
“The 40 best (players) are here,” said MacKinnon on Sunday night after his Team Red defeated Team White 5-1 in a scrimmage. “Everybody’s really pushing hard, so it’s going to be really tough for the coaches – I think – to pick the final team.”
Based on his play at camp, there’s little doubt MacKinnon will make the cut when Team Canada announces the final squad on Monday afternoon. In the weekend scrimmages he was playing a line with Mooseheads teammate Jonathan Drouin, showing the same kind of deftness that saw him lead Halifax in scoring as a rookie with 78 points.
“He’s got a lot of speed and he can fool you with those hands,” said Mooseheads goalie Zachary Fucale, who is also at the U-18 camp. “He’s very quick and he’s got a great shot, so he’s got all the assets to become an exceptional hockey player."
MacKinnon finished fifth in QMJHL playoff scoring with 28 points in 17 games and there are many who believe he would have been included in the Canada-Russia Challenge, if not for a Hockey Canada rule that prevented from playing because he had not previously participated in the U-18 program.
The Canada-Russia Challenge is replacing Hockey Canada’s traditional summer camp for the world junior squad. The Russian portion of the series is being hosted in Yaroslavl, while the Canadian leg of the series is being hosted in Halifax – MacKinnon’s hometown. And while he told reporters in May he was “disappointed” over not being able to play in the U-20 camp, time has tempered that feeling.
“It’s not too bad to be honest,” said MacKinnon of missing the opportunity to play at home. “This is still a summer tournament and I still hope to make (the U-20 camp) this Christmas, so I’m only thinking about this tournament – I’m not thinking about that anymore.”
He hasn’t given much thought to his acting prospects either, though if it’s anything like his future in hockey, the spotlight is only just warming up.
“I definitely have the connections now,” said MacKinnon. “Maybe it’ll take me somewhere.”