MacKinnon returns home to Cole Harbor with the Stanley Cup

The first stop was his childhood home.

“Being back in the house we grew up in was pretty cool,” MacKinnon said Saturday. “It comes full circle, the memories. The hard work we all put in those years. The dents I put in my neighbors’ houses from pucks. Family is very important and I wouldn’t be here without them.”

After taking pictures at his home, including of the first net he ever used, MacKinnon then took it in with the fans and people in the city where he has meant so much. He fired the cannon on Citadel Hill at noon, an honor usually bestowed upon the staff, before his parade began.

Tweet from @Avalanche: Nate, his first-ever hockey net, and the Stanley Cup. Not too bad 😎#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/OUbk6Xryaa

Thousands were on hand in Halifax, lining the streets and parking along the parade route, which began in front of Scotiabank Centre, where there is a mural of MacKinnon on the side of the building. He played in that building for the Halifax Mooseheads of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for two seasons from 2011-13, scoring 153 points (63 goals; 90 assists) in 102 games including winning the QMJHL title and the Memorial Cup in 2013, when he was named MVP of the tournament.

Five weeks later, MacKinnon was selected by the Avalanche with the No. 1 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft.

Nine years later, he’s a Stanley Cup champion.

“It’s been a crazy day,” MacKinnon said. “I never expected it to be like this. The support from the local community is pretty cool, and I guess I got my own day now which is pretty cool. I appreciate everyone coming out. This is unbelievable. … Grew up here, I ‘m proud to be from Halifax, Cole Harbour. It’s an honor to bring the Cup home.”

MacKinnon rode in a fire truck with his family and friends, hoisting the Cup over his head. Just before he arrived, a horse-and-buggy rode in front of him with Avalanche teammates Gabriel Landeskog and Andrew Cogliano.

Tweet from @davidsatriano: Nathan MacKinnon, Stanley Cup champion. pic.twitter.com/xyCchsprir

Then it was on to Parade Square, which was packed and let out a huge cheer when MacKinnon took the stage and lifted the Cup over his head. Halifax Mayor Mike Savage then declared Aug. 20 in honor of the local hero.

“This day today is Nathan MacKinnon Day,” Mayor Savage said. “If I had a key to give him, I’d give him the key to the city, but all I have is the keys to my car and I need that to get home.”

MacKinnon is no stranger to Stanley Cup celebrations in Nova Scotia. When the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Cup in 2016 and 2017, he was on hand to support one of his best friends, center Sidney Crosby, who held the parade in Cole Harbour. But there’s no doubt, this time was more special to him.

Tweet from @Avalanche: Much deserved fanfare for the one and only:NATHAN MAAAACKINNON!#GoAvsGo pic.twitter.com/QJVqISFkfo

“You work your whole life for this,” MacKinnon said. “It’s cool to lift over your head but I think the coolest thing is sharing it with people when and how excited everyone gets when they see it and sharing it with your family and friends who I couldn’t have done it without.”

MacKinnon’s parents, Kathy and Graham, older sister Sarah and girlfriend Charlotte were among those who got to share his special day.

“It’s surreal,” Kathy MacKinnon said of the turnout. “It’s a pinch-me moment.”

So was Jon Greenwood, one of his first hockey coaches.

“My brother Adam and I were coaching him in his first year of Pee Wee, 11 years old,” Greenwood said. “We were coaching the Triple A team in Cole Harbor and we knew he was coming up and we were pretty sure he would make our team since he had 132 goals the year before. We knew he was pretty good.”

MacKinnon tied for the lead in goals during the playoffs last year with 13 and had 24 points to help the Avalanche win the Cup for the first time since 1996.

One of his childhood friends said despite all of his individual success, MacKinnon’s drive made him even more hungry after losing in the second round each of the past three seasons before winning the Cup.

“That’s kind of what Nate is all about,” said Cole Murphy, who has known MacKinnon since they played Timbits together at 5 years old. “He is a great player individually but the only thing he really cared about was the Cup. I know even last summer and the last few summers, having that stain on losing out when they maybe shouldn’t have, I think that really motivated him , added another chip on his shoulder. He’s an ultra-competitive guy, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t believe he would do it one day but I’m really happy he was able to accomplish it.

Murphy said it was only fitting that MacKinnon got to bring the Cup back home like his friend Crosby.

“For us growing up, and for Nathan as well, kind of looking up and seeing Sid just kind of right in our backyard, being the best player in the world, it kind of makes it more of a reality knowing someone from here did it Murphy said. “I think Nathan tried to model how he conducted himself and how he worked after Sid and obviously it paid off.”

After talking to the crowd at the parade, MacKinnon and his family went inside City Hall. While there, Mayor Savage grabbed jerseys from kids waiting outside and had MacKinnon sign them, before returning, and later handed some lucky kids signed posters of MacKinnon in his Avalanche and Halifax jerseys.

“It was awesome then to win it but even now it’s a little cooler when you get to come down from the high a little bit and really enjoy it again,” said MacKinnon, who was also scheduled to visit a local hospital before concluding his day with a party with family and friends. “The whole thing is really special.”

Emily Thexton and Connor Adams got to Parade Square four hours early to make sure they’d be able to see MacKinnon up close. Thexton wore a MacKinnon Avalanche jersey and Adams a MacKinnon Halifax sweater.

“I think it’s really special that he had his day in Halifax because he played on the junior team,” Thexton said. “I think that means a lot to people who watched him in juniors. We watched him and he still remembers and enjoys that part of his life. He deserves the biggest crowd he can get.”

In nine NHL seasons, MacKinnon has 648 points (242 goals, 406 assists) in 638 games, sixth in the NHL over that span. Crosby ranks second with 744 (279 goals, 465 assists).

MacKinnon said that when he and Crosby’s playing days are done, he hopes the Stanley Cup will return to their hometown in another set of hands that hail from Cole Harbour.

“Hopefully one of you guys will be here in about 14 years from now,” MacKinnon said to the crowd.

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