Nathan MacKinnon says Sidney Crosby opened doors for small-town players

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If you’ve followed high-end 2013 NHL Draft prospect Nathan MacKinnon’s story at all, you probably know that he comes from Cole Harbour, Novia Scotia, just like Sidney Crosby.

It might as well be the first line of any scouting report for MacKinnon.

The budding star didn’t distance himself from the connection, telling The Star that he owes a lot to the 25-year-old Pittsburgh Penguins captain.

“He didn’t know if he could (make it) being from a small town,” MacKinnon said of Crosby. “For me, I looked at him, and said if he could do it, I could do it as well. He paved the way for kids from small towns.”

Still, MacKinnon said that Crosby is “on another level,” so he needed individual moments to feel like he belonged at the highest level of competition.

“The first time I realized I could make it, I went to Toronto when I was 9 or 10 in tournaments,” said MacKinnon.

“You kind of realize you can play with those guys. I was doing well against Toronto kids. You know their track record. That’s when I figured I could play. I know I was young but I got focused on the NHL.”