Column: NHL rookies making splash in early stages of season
Published: Monday, October 21, 2013
Updated: Monday, October 21, 2013 22:10
When it comes down to it, professional sports are really just adults playing a children’s game.
Sports mean nothing in the grand scheme of things. One team plays a game against another team, both of which have players being paid millions of dollars to take part in a game that they have been practicing since childhood.
With that being said, hockey truly is a game for the young. Speed is essential, power is a constant factor and the ability to heal a broken body on a few hours’ rest is paramount to a player’s ability to function. It’s a game of raucous celebrations and overpowering emotion. Hell, what’s more youthful and immature than settling your differences with a good, old-fashioned fist fight?
The 2013-14 season has, perhaps more than ever, demonstrated the impact of youth on the game, as a pair of rookies have taken the league by storm.
First off is Seth Jones, the No. 4 overall pick in June’s draft, who has been lighting it up for the Nashville Predators.
Jones, a hulking 6-foot-4, 205-pound defenseman, already has two goals and two assists on the young season, despite being only 19 years old.
Jones, son of former basketball player Popeye Jones, has already made a huge impact on his new team, as his spectacular game-winner against Montreal over the weekend demonstrated exactly what the youngster is capable of.
Jones started the play by initiating a give-and-go before receiving the puck in the slot. The defenseman was able to show his maturity with a beautiful toe drag, before slotting home over veteran goalie Carey Price, giving the Predators the lead with just over a minute left.
Jones is the real deal, as he possesses the size, speed and maturity it takes to be a true superstar defenseman in this league.
Joining Jones on the early season Calder Trophy watch list is Avalanche draftee Nathan MacKinnon. MacKinnon, the top pick in June’s draft, turned 18 just last month, as the youngster signed an NHL contract before he could even go to big-people jail.
The Cole Harbor, Nova Scotia product joined a Colorado team already infused with young talent, as 20-year-old captain Gabriel Landeskog and 22-year-old Matt Duchene are already Colorado’s top players.
MacKinnon has stepped in immediately for the Western Conference-leading Avalanche, as he has already contributed seven points in just eight games entering Monday night.
With the introductions of both Jones and MacKinnon, the NHL is showing exactly how valuable youth can be, as players that are too young to drink are currently contributing on teams with real Stanley Cup aspirations.
Author Oscar Wilde once said that “youth is wasted on the young.” MacKinnon and Jones are showing that their youth is anything but a waste, as the future might just be now in the National Hockey League.