For much of the past two years, Sidney Crosby convinced Nathan MacKinnon that he was moving. Normally this wouldn’t cause any alarm, except for the small detail that MacKinnon was just finishing construction on a summer house along Grand Lake in Nova Scotia … less than a one-minute walk from Crosby’s estate. The plan had been for them to train together, using their respective private gyms and mutual conditioning gurus. No doubt MacKinnon was generally pleased about becoming neighbors with a close friend and fellow Cole Harbour native too.
Finally, as MacKinnon’s place was just nearing completion last offseason, Crosby gave up the gag. “He was pretty upset over that,” Crosby says. “I had him going for a while. Then I told him one time, ‘I’m not going anywhere. It’s all good.’”
And so their natural summer schedule resumed, MacKinnon popping over most mornings for workouts and Crosby cooking everyone lunch afterwards. It is that kind of relationship, two all-world superstars hailing from the same map-dot hometown in the Maritimes, pushing each other through every shuttle run and skating drill. In fact, their competition grew so stiff that coach Andy O’Brien all but quit scheduling exercises that pit MacKinnon and Crosby one-on-one. “The form would go, the purpose would go, and it’s just be about who’s winning and why am I not winning and what do I have to do to beat him,” Crosby says. “It was just more productive for us this way.”
“It got pretty heated,” MacKinnon adds. “Andy said enough.”
All of which made Wednesday night seem as though both men were making up for lost competition time. The Avalanche emerged with a 6-3 win over Pittsburgh, but Crosby and MacKinnon uncorked a nationally televised spectacle in Denver that could well have been filmed at Grand Lake. There was MacKinnon, dishing two assists as Colorado took a 3–0 lead. There was Crosby, hacking and whacking his way to a natural hat trick that lifted the Penguins back into contention. And there was MacKinnon, receiving the last laugh by feeding linemate Gabriel Landeskog on the eventual game-winner, then later potting an empty-netter for good measure.