DENVER – There are plenty who admire the way Jonathan Toews plays the game. Count Colorado center Nathan MacKinnon among them.
“I loved Toews growing up,” he said on Tuesday morning.
It’s somewhat amusing to hear an 18-year-old MacKinnon talk his adolescent admiration of the 25-year-old Toews. But all slight age gaps aside, MacKinnon aspires to play like the Chicago Blackhawks captain, on both ends of the ice, some day.
“I like his two-way game. I like offensive guys who put up numbers,” MacKinnon said of Toews. “He doesn’t necessarily lead the league every year but he won the Selke (last season), he’s up there every year in that (defensive forward) category and he does a good job at both ends of the ice.”
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MacKinnon is off to a solid start for the Avalanche, with 12 points in his first 19 games. He’ll get some added responsibility tonight, as he replaces injured Matt Duchene at center and play with Gabriel Landeskog and Ryan O’Reilly. Coach Patrick Roy said he’s curious to see how MacKinnon and Paul Stastny’s lines do against the Blackhawks’ top lines.
The young MacKinnon has already impressed with his offense. He’s looking to become that well-rounded guy like Toews in the future.
“I’m not nearly at the Toews level yet,” he said. “But hopefully I can be that type of player one day.”