DENVER (CBS4) – On the ice this season, two Colorado Avalanche stars showcased skills any hockey played would be proud to boast.
But off the ice, Ryan O’Reilly and Nathan MacKinnon are intensely humble about their spectacular seasons and the awards they won. They spoke with CBS4’s Tom Helmer.
O’Reilly captured the NHL’s Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, an honor given to the player who exhibits skill alongside the most sportsmanship and “gentlemanly conduct,” the Hockey Hall of Fame says.
It helped O’Reilly that he committed just one penalty all season.
“There were times deeper in the year where I think refs maybe let it go a little bit because I hadn’t had (penalties),” he told CBS4.
The sole penalty?
“It was for playing with a broken stick,” O’Reilly, 23, said. “It was off a faceoff. (I) got a stick snapped. I just kicked the puck back and dropped my stick. You’re not allowed to play the puck when the stick’s broken. Unfortunate call.”
He said it’s an amazing feeling sharing the honor with previous winners like Joe Sakic and Wayne Gretzky: “The guys you grew up watching. To be on the same trophy as them is a true honor.”
MacKinnon was named the NHL’s rookie of the year. But the most nerve-racking part of winning the honor was speaking on stage on Tuesday at the awards show.
“When you actually win it, you don’t get to enjoy it right away because your thought is, ‘Oh crap, I have to go speak on stage now.’ That’s the only bad part about winning it, but afterward you get to reflect and really appreciate what you won,” MacKinnon, 18, said.
His family provided support, though: His dad sat beside him and his mom and sister were close by.
“There were some plenty famous people in the audience,” MacKinnon joked. “I was shaking after I left the stage, that’s for sure.”
As for next season, he’s not resting on his award.
“There are always some things I felt I could’ve done better,” he said. “I can really improve for next season. I feel like I’m only getting better.”
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