Originally posted on Pro Sports Daily  |  Last updated 9/9/13
Nathan MacKinnon bounded up the steps to the Avalanche's weight-training room after his first practice Sunday and gave one of those looks made by newcomers to Colorado that says "Man that altitude." He may have been doing that out of false modesty however. There was nothing about MacKinnon's initial showing at the Family Sports Center to suggest he's not in good enough shape for the mile-high elevation. MacKinnon clearly was the fastest player on the ice the first day of the Avs' three-day rookie camp. Not that anyone looked slow. "There was definitely some good pace out there" said MacKinnon 18 the first pick in this year's NHL draft. "I still need to get used to the altitude some though. I'm used to playing at sea level so it's definitely an adjustment." MacKinnon the most valuable player of this year's Memorial Cup tournament for champion Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League started preparing for the thin Denver air by training in the even thinner air of Vail a week ago. His personal trainer Calgary Alberta-based Andy O'Brien conducted a fitness camp in Vail for clients who include the Avs' Matt Duchene and John Tavares of the New York Islanders. MacKinnon also has acclimated himself to sports culture in this state. He attended the Broncos' season opener Thursday night. "That was pretty amazing. The fans are nuts for the Broncos" he said. First-year Avalanche coach Patrick Roy didn't direct practice Sunday. Assistant general manager Craig Billington is in charge of running the Avs' rookie camp. "He looked exactly as we've seen him. It's exciting to see him on the ice. He's just a great addition for us" Billington said of MacKinnon.
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