I don’t think so.
At the start of training camp, hope springs eternal. You forget about what happened last year, and look towards a better future. With Drouin, the hope is that he can reignite his career playing with the Avalanche superstar once again.
And on Thursday morning, the old Halifax Mooseheads linemates were reunited on the ice. It took a decade, but it’s finally happened.
While Drouin has been in town for about a week, skating with his new teammates, MacKinnon arrived just today, the same day it was announced his #22 was going to be retired by Halifax in a few weeks. He hopped on the ice and immediately, his presence was felt. The Avalanche superstar skated up to Drouin and joked, “You’re wearing blue too!?!”
(Everyone penned for the top six was dressed in blue for the skate)
Today, the groups were split up. All the NHL guy were on the ice first, and the AHL/prospect hopefuls got on the ice afterwards. That meant the numbers were short for the first group on the ice for the Avalanche. With guys like Valeri Nichushkin, Miles Wood, Bowen Byram, and Cale Makar still not in town, it’s hard to run a full practice with any semblance of lines.
With the numbers the way they were, Drouin and MacKinnon didn’t spend a ton of time together in drills, but after practice was over, we got a glimpse into what their relationship is like.
The 28 year old Avalanche forward, fresh off the best season of his career, and now the highest paid player in the league, got together with Drouin.
It was time to go to work.
They sat apart on separate face-off dots. MacKinnon picked up a bunch of pucks, put them in front of himself, and one-by-one, started saucing pucks to Drouin on his backhand. After he was done, it was Drouin’s turn. One-by-one, he sauced pucks from his backhand over to MacKinnon. The goal of the drill wasn’t to label a one-timer into the net, but rather get the puck over the stack in front of them. In a game situation, that stack of packs they were saucing over could be a defenseman’s stick, but more than anything, it’s just skill work.
The Halifax boys out late together, working on backhand sauce passes over pucks, and various other things. A lot of backhand work. pic.twitter.com/7X6ppc3lwI
— Evan Rawal (@evanrawal) September 7, 2023
When Drouin was passing it to MacKinnon, you could hear the Avalanche star encouraging his old linemate, yelling out “Nice!” after Drouin’s pass landed right in his sweet spot.
Once they were done with this drill, it was on to the next. MacKinnon set himself up behind the net. He asked Drouin to send pucks around the boards so that he could retrieve it with his backhand, and then make a quick move into space. After Nate was done, it was Jonathan’s turn.
The duo worked together for about 15 minutes after most players had left the ice, and then they both took their helmets off, grabbed some puck bags, and retrieved the pucks so the Zamboni could clean the ice.
Day one, in the books.
It’s only just beginning.
We have a long way to go before we see if this experiment works, but I’ll say this – Drouin looks invested. And MacKinnon looks very invested. Would you have expected anything else?
I said it last month, but I’m optimistic this reunion will work. After day one, I remain optimistic.
Because I’m not sure a guy like MacKinnon will allow it to fail.
Other Notes From Skate
- Josh Manson took part in the full skate, and looked strong. Maybe everyone can breathe a sigh of relief.
- Erik Johnson is STILL here.
- Fredrik Olofsson only has a whopping 30 games of NHL experience, but he was out there with the NHL group today. That’s likely a sign of where he stands in the hierarchy of things right now, if you’re looking at building the team out.
- One player who I have not seen yet – Pavel Francouz. He had off-season surgery, but haven’t seen him on the ice yet. That doesn’t mean he isn’t here, but just felt it was worth noting.