Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: connor mcdavid
Montreal fans know a good play when they see one.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
It has never happened before.
Never has an NHL team had a fork stuck in them before the All-Star break en route to equaling a record 10 straight seasons out of the playoffs only to return to a scene like the Edmonton Oilers will experience tonight.
Because of the return of Connor McDavid, they’ll return to an environment charged with anticipation and excitement, an experience very much like the first home game of the season.
“It’s like September again,” said Oilers’ media relations director J.J. Hebert, as he surveyed the media gathered to cover the return of the player so many expect to be the greatest since Gretzky from missing 37 games due to a broken collarbone.
“For Connor, it probably is,” said coach Todd McLellan.
McLellan said he’s not going to baby McDavid upon re-entry.
“Open the door and let him go,” he said.
Sportsnet's Damien Cox and Elliotte Friedman discussed Patrick Marleau being on the trade market, the KHL deciding to make its players available for the World Cup of Hockey, WIlliam Nylander playing well in the AHL for Toronto, Connor McDavid's surgery (no torn labrum or separated shoulder), Pavel Datsyuk returning next Friday or Saturday, Zach Parise's likely status as being out for the month, and according to Friedman, per an NHL competition committee debate, the NHL is considering asking goalies to wear player-sized jerseys and have their chest protectors fit underneath:
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Fans in OilerNation: cease and desist with thought McDavid's injury came on a dirty play by the Flyers' D. Bad stuff happens.
-Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal via a tweet.
The Edmonton Oilers lost Connor McDavid to a shoulder injury on Tuesday, and the news is bad:
"What Larry Bird and Magic Johnson did for basketball, [Ovechkin] and Sid did for hockey at a time when hockey needed something to provide hope and excitement. McDavid and Eichel are perpetuating that same sort of intrigue into the League again. Not that it wasn't there before, but you can feel it."
-George McPhee, special advisor for the New York Islanders. More on this topic from Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com.
NEW YORK (Nov. 2, 2015) – Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, who led all rookies with 5-7—12 in 12 games, has been named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for October.
McDavid edged Arizona Coyotes left wing Max Domi (5-6—11 in 11 GP), Chicago Blackhawks left wing Artemi Panarin (2-8—10 in 11 GP), Winnipeg Jets right wing Nikolaj Ehlers (4-4—8 in 11 GP) and St. Louis Blues defenseman Colton Parayko (4-3—7 in 11 GP) for the honor.
McDavid, the first overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, made his League debut Oct. 8 at STL. He recorded his first goal Oct. 13 at DAL, notched his first multi-goal/point game Oct. 17 at CGY (2-1—3), registered his first game-winning goal Oct. 21 vs. DET and compiled a seven-game point streak from Oct. 17-29 (4-7—11).
The 18-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native spent the past three seasons with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, where he collected 97-188—285 in 166 appearances. That included 44-76—120 (all career highs) in just 47 games last season as well as 21-28—49 in 20 playoff outings, earning him the OHL’s Red Tilson Trophy (Most Outstanding Player) and Wayne Gretzky ‘99’ Award (Playoff MVP).
from Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal,
While McDavid’s story has become an enduring Canadian tale — from the family’s puck-battered garage wall to his first overall selection at the NHL entry draft — American sports fans are not as familiar with the Oilers rookie.
At least not yet.
A production team from 60 Minutes Sports was in Edmonton on Wednesday to bank more footage for a profile on McDavid. The project, in the works for more than a year, is expected to air Nov. 3 on Showtime.
CBS News correspondent and associate producer Jeff Glor has compiled material from McDavid’s later days with the Erie Otters through to his first couple of months in the NHL.
A crew filmed segments at the top prospects game in January, there have been trips to the family home in Newmarket, Ont., as well as a couple of Ontario Hockey League games. They also shot footage at the June draft.
“For sure it’s cool,” said McDavid. “It’s something that started in the summer — actually a little bit last year. They haven’t been too intrusive, so it’s been nice, but at the same time, it’s been a lot of fun to work with them.”
After dazzling in Calgary on Saturday night, McDavid had a fairly quiet night against the Canucks. Yes, he set up Nail Yakupov with a genius pass on the Oilers’ first period goal but the Canucks line of Brandon Sutter, Alex Burrows and Radim Vrbata held him in check the rest of the night.
Now we understand the hold a player like McDavid has on this country’s sporting consciousness but you also look forward to the day the novelty wears off. Over his first four games, more ink was devoted to McDavid’s slow start than the federal election. He then scored two goals and added a helper in Calgary on Saturday night and he was back to being McMessiah.
The kid is special but he’s also 18 and he’s not going to dominate the best league in the world every night. Enjoy him for what he brings. Really, it’s pretty good.
-Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province.
Among the items that USA Today's Kevin Allen believes are overreactions levied far too early in the 2015-16 NHL season:
Coach Bruce Boudreau is on the hot seat in Anaheim C’mon folks. This is a parity league, and even quality teams struggle on occasion. You wouldn’t even pay attention to their 0-2-1 stretch if this was the middle of January. The Ducks are in a scoring slump, probably caused by players trying to find chemistry with new teammates. Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry don’t have a point. Do you think the NHL has magically discovered how to stop that duo after a decade of domination? The Ducks are a contender. They have the necessary ingredients to make it happen. Boudreau will be judged by what happens next spring, not what happens in the first three games of the season.
The 1-3 Penguins are already in a world of hurt Let’s take a step back here and remember that the three teams that have defeated the Penguins are a combined 11-1, including the white-hot Canadiens. We know that Crosby is eventually going to score plenty, and the Pittsburgh power play will likely end up as one of the league’s best. The Penguins have given up an average of two goals per game in the four games. They would be thrilled with that goals-against average for an entire season. This is another team that is trying to figure out how to best use new personnel. It’s too early to assess where the Penguins are going this season.
Connor McDavid has been slow to adjust Now you understand why general manager Peter Chiarelli tried to tamp down the hype over this future superstar. Although McDavid has an overflowing amount of skill, he’s still an 18-year-old trying to find his way against the world’s best players. The lack of points (one goal) is not a shock to the Oilers. They understood that even budding superstars need time to sort out what works and what doesn’t. His point total will grow significantly as he gains experience. Don’t forget that he is not playing with a Stanley Cup contender. He is surrounded by players still exploring their own games. If you have watched McDavid in his first four games, you can see his potential dominance bubbling just below the surface. He always seems like he’s a half-second from a breakaway.
[Connor] McDavid hates losing.
Hates it. Which is a problem when you’re drafted to a team that, well, loses a lot.
They lost again on opening night in front of all those fans in all those McDavid jerseys, 4-2 to the St. Louis Blues. The power play sucked, going 0-for-5, to the point where coach Todd McLellan blamed it for the loss. McDavid played nearly five minutes with the man advantage, more than any forward outside of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, but ended the game with no shots on goal and only three shot attempts.
“It’s obviously disappointing. We needed it to come up big tonight, and it didn’t again, so it’s something we gotta work on,” said McDavid after the game.
His voice barely rose from a whisper in the Oilers’ locker room, and he wore the disappointment on his face. The fans came to see the Connor McDavid Show, and it was postponed: no points, no shots and a game-worst minus-3.
His coach pulled as many positives as he could.
“Against a heavy, strong, well-prepared defensive team, I saw him skating through the neutral zone with more pace and speed, creating some opportunities. Unfortunately for us, that line was on the ice for some goals against,” said McLellan. “He’s getting better every night. I don’t know how much pressure he’s feeling. I think I do. But I don’t really know how much he’s carrying with him. I’m sure that he feels that a large chunk of our 0-4 record falls on his shoulders.”
Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid joins Gene Principe to talk about scoring his first NHL goal and the pressure in looking for his first goal.
Edmonton lost to Dallas 4-2.
McDavid also had this hit on
from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,
For the most part, professional sport is a system of seniority-driven, pay-your-dues hierarchies. The tag “rookie” connotes “unproven” and can hang out there almost as a pejorative. And the NHL might be the league that most marginalizes the last guy in the door. That thinking is there at the micro level: Veterans initiate rookies. And it’s there at the macro level: Entry-level players have to wait the longest to attain free agency and real market value—seven years of dues-paying before they get a sniff at it. For those who follow the game, from the stands or the press box, the history and the status quo exercise a powerful hold on conventional wisdom: No matter who you are, who you think you are or who people presume you to be, you have to earn it first.
This preamble leads us to the burning question: How high should a rookie place on a list of the NHL’s most important players before he has skated a single professional shift? McDavid is, after all, a mere teenager, one whose ball-hockey net is at this moment leaning against the garage of his family’s home in suburban Newmarket, Ont.; one who, on the eve of the NHL Combine this spring, went to his high school prom; one who seems bound and determined to be an average 18-year-old, or at least one with an A-student’s vocabulary. He looks not like the greats spread across these pages but rather a kid who would stand outside the arena, waiting to chase down their autographs.
And here again we come to an exploration of micro and macro pictures. Micro: The measure of a player’s influence on a franchise is in the hands of those who vote, subjectively, for the Hart Trophy, or those who do some sort of objective statistical analysis of every skater and goalie in the league. Macro: The measure of a player’s influence on the league is harder to decide and impossible to quantify. Is it more about name recognition or what the name is associated with? Is it earnings or earning potential, on the ice and off?
It’s one thing to rank players by skill, scoring, Stanley Cups or individual awards, it’s quite another to determine their importance to the NHL—and the game—as a whole. Here we’ve done exactly that.
It’s not a precise science, but a decade after “Sid the Kid” and Ovie became shining lights for a league coming out of its darkest hour, we set ourselves the task of determining who will carry that torch this season and beyond. We’ve taken into account their abilities and achievements, but also the markets they play in and franchises they play for, on- and off-ice earnings, celebrity status, legacies carved out or those still being created and more.
Through this week, we’ll release the top 50 most important players, ranked by Sportsnet Magazine. Today, we reveal players 10-1.
1. CONNOR McDAVID
He’s expected to be the next Crosby-Lemieux-Gretzky and also pull a franchise out of a decade-long funk…oh, and he’s just 18 years old. Being “The Next One” carries a lot of expectations. McDavid, the 2015 first overall pick, leads an Edmonton Oilers team stocked with young talent into an era of hope, after years of disappointment. All eyes are on Edmonton, and we’ll know soon enough if he’s ready.
read on for the top 10 most important NHL players....
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
McDavid, we have learned during his first professional training camp, is the under-promise and over-deliver type. After what this franchise has been through for the past 20 years, his approach is identical to that of Nicholson, new GM Peter Chiarelli and new head coach Todd McLellan.
“I’m excited for the fans, but I want to temper it,” Nicholson, now the Oilers Chief Executive Officer, cautions. “This is a team that’s in the process of getting better, but we’ve got to keep expectations under control here.”
Like Charlie Brown in the old Peanuts cartoon, an entire Northern Alberta fan base is lining up behind that football again this fall, praying that it’s still going to be there when they go for the big kick. That it’s not a mirage — again — and they fall flat on their backs with a giant, “Ugh!”
Messier, who knows a thing or two about winning, says it’s time for change. He sees McDavid is the difference maker that will allow this franchise to get up off of its knees.
“There’s a distinct different feeling,” he said. “There’s been a lot of change in the organization, with Connor coming in to compliment all the other players who are getting well established in the league. The new arena coming… Just a lot of great things happening.
The Oilers will be playing the Blues tonight in St. Louis, will you be watching?
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
The hockey world is tilting on its axis as the puck drops on the 2015-16 NHL season, bringing about a collision of stars that comes around less than once in a generation.
Consider it a lunar eclipse even more rare than the blood moon.
You have generational talents in Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel — centres so enticing that teams were willing to lose for a year to get them — rocketing into orbit while the deities of the last decade, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, have neither burned out nor faded away.
There are obvious parallels to 2004-05 with a pair of future superstars arriving together, but the wider landscape is totally different. Back then Crosby and Ovechkin were desperately needed to inject excitement and sell a sport that was emerging from an ugly year-long lockout.
added 8:03am, from Victor Mather of the New York Times,
Every decade or so, hockey fans get excited over a “generational talent” coming into the N.H.L. Wayne Gretzky in 1978, Mario Lemieux in 1984, Eric Lindros in 1992 and Sidney Crosby in 2005 were all considered can’t-miss centers bound for immediate greatness and eventually the Hall of Fame.
This season there are two 18-year-old centers who are being heralded as the next great ones.
According to the Canadian Press's Joshua Clipperton, there are five stories of particular note to follow during the upcoming NHL season:
2. McDavid Mania: Connor McDavid is the most hyped rookie to enter the NHL since Sidney Crosby back in 2005. The 18-year-old was taken first overall by the Edmonton Oilers at June's draft and is viewed as the league's next superstar. He joins a franchise that hasn't made the playoffs since losing Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final, but has a stable of young talent that includes Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. How much of an impact will McDavid, the odds-on favourite to win the Calder Trophy as the top rookie, have with Edmonton in Year 1?
3. New overtime format, coach's challenges: Vancouver Canucks goalie Jacob Markstrom called his experience with 3-on-3 overtime in the AHL last season "a gong show," but it will be interesting to see how NHL teams adapt to the new format. Will coaches deploy two forwards and a defenceman, or three forwards? Playing 3-on-3 should open up more scoring chances and result in fewer shootouts. Another change for this season is the coach's ability to challenge officials' calls on plays involving offside and goaltender interference that result in goals.
4. Will Stamkos get a contract extension? Steven Stamkos is entering the final season of a $37.5-million US, five-year contract he signed in 2011 with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The two sides are negotiating, but have yet to put pen to paper on a new deal. Stamkos is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, 2016. The captain of the Lightning has said he wants to remain with the club, but he has also had issues with how he fits into head coach Jon Cooper's system. Stamkos and the Lightning have eight months to get a new deal done before he's scheduled to hit free agency. The longer it drags on, the more of a distraction his status will become.
To me, the type of hit we see on a nightly basis but the media does need something to talk about.
from Marty Klinkenberg of the Globe and Mail,
Chosen on June 26 with the first selection in the draft, McDavid is poised in a few short weeks to make his debut with the Edmonton Oilers.
Transforming him from a lean adolescent into a game-ready professional has been a daunting and complicated mission. Gary Roberts, a former player turned fitness guru, was engaged to be the architect of the plan.
For McDavid, the past 10 weeks have been gruelling. Before that, he and Roberts spent three long summers laying the groundwork.
“My body has gone through a lot of changes over the past four years,” McDavid said one afternoon in mid-August after posing for a magazine cover photo and skating with other NHL players at a promotional event. “I was just hitting puberty when I started, so some of those things were going to occur naturally. But the hard work I have done with Gary has speeded up the process. I have never felt this strong and this powerful.”
Five mornings a week, McDavid arrived by 7:15 at the fitness centre in the Toronto suburbs that Roberts uses as his summer base.
After dining on oatmeal, eggs and bacon or salmon prepared by a chef, the sport’s most anticipated newcomer headed for the weight room for as long as two hours.
from Marty Klinkenberg of the Globe and Mail,
It will be highly coveted, and the card company promises it will be a challenge to find. There hasn’t been a player of such magnitude to enter the game in at least 10 years.
“We have been planning on this since Connor was 14,” says Chris Carlin, senior marketing manager for California-based Upper Deck, the NHL’s lone licensed trading-card partner. “This type of player comes around very seldom.”
There is speculation Mr. McDavid’s rookie card will be worth $250 to $300 straight out of the pack. Mr. Carlin says the buzz is beyond anything the company experienced with Sidney Crosby.
“Connor is not just attracting interest from hockey, he is attracting sports fans, investors, gamblers and speculators,” Mr. Carlin says. “We have card dealers telling us that people are calling and saying they want to buy a case this year instead of a box. Everyone wants a piece of Connor.”
“Before our first scrimmage the other day, before the puck was even dropped, I heard the other team say: ‘Keep your head up, McDavid’. I think it was one of the Stewart brothers (Chris or Anthony). For sure, he’ll get a lot of that. And with good reason. When you have the skill set he has, and you can do the damage he thinks he should be able to do, he’ll earn that attention.”
-Mike Cammalleri of the New Jersey Devils on Connor McDavid at the BioSteel Camp. More by Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun on McDavid and other topics including player talking about the ads on sweaters.
From Sportsnet's Mark Spector:
It’s the middle of August, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins already knows what it’s going to be like for an Edmonton Oiler this coming season. At a media availability at an Oilers hockey school, almost every question asked of Nugent-Hopkins riffed off of the incoming star Connor McDavid.
“A big thing for me coming into the league was how much different it is on the defensive side of things compared to junior. If anything, I’m going to try to help him out with that side of things,” Nugent-Hopkins said. “He’s a pretty gifted offensive guy, so I don’t think he’ll have any problem with that.”
RNH was a No. 1 overall pick himself, back in 2011. “It seems like a long time ago, but these four years, they’ve gone by pretty fast. It’s hard to believe I’m going into my fifth year.”
Wayne Gretzky continued to shower Connor McDavid with praise, saying that he’ll be a rock star in the best way for Edmonton.
from Connor McDavid of Sportsnet,
There have been plenty of great players over the years, but what always separated them from the merely good one was their ability to sense the moment. The intelligence to know when it was time for a truly superior performance, and the wherewithal to be the best player on the ice that night — that’s what set the Gretzkys, Messiers, Lemieuxs and Crosbys apart.
Connor McDavid is not there yet, OK? No one is saying that he is.
But, in his first scrimmage as an Edmonton Oiler, with about 7,300 people who came out on a beautiful July evening solely to see him play a 4-on-4 game for 40 minutes, then 3-on-3 for another seven minutes, all McDavid did was score five goals. His team won 8-6.
It was, as his GM would say later, a “a 3-on-3, 4-on-4 no-hitter.” But there was one player who had the puck on a string, one player who emphatically showed that he was head and shoulders the most dynamic, highly-skilled player among the 31 prospects.
The stage, however small, was his and he owned it.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
They came, they saw, they were entertained by the Oilers’ newest star Connor McDavid.
Nearly 3,000 curious fans flocked to Rexall Place Friday for the Edmonton Oilers orientation camp to see the No. 1 draft pick in the flesh for the first time. Though McDavid only went through a few on-ice drills, fans let out raucous cheers when he casually shot the puck into an empty net.
The 18-year-old centre, who signed his entry-level contract with the Oilers Friday morning, wore a bemused grin as he described the attention for a simple practice, coming through the tunnel from the dressing room to the ice and hearing cheers from scores of fans in McDavid jerseys and T-shirts.
“It was awesome,” McDavid said. “Just a normal practice. We weren’t doing anything too special.”
Awesome, but a little different for McDavid to have so many people turn out on a blistering hot summer day to watch a teenager, along with fellow draft picks such as Darnell Nurse and Leon Draisaitl go through their work outs.
Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today, the club has agreed to terms with centre Connor McDavid on a three-year entry level contract.
McDavid, 18, has spent the past three seasons with the Ontario Hockey League’s Erie Otters, recording 285 points (97G, 188A), 104 penalty minutes and a +83 rating in 166 career games. His 285 points are second most in Otters franchise history.
I was expecting Jim Nance to appear with Daryl Katz to help put the Green Jacket on McDavid.
via Edmonton Oilers press release,
Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli announced today, with the first overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, the Oilers have selected centre Connor McDavid from the Ontario Hockey League’s (OHL) Erie Otters.
McDavid, 18, has spent the past three seasons with the Otters, recording 285 points (97G, 188A), 104 penalty minutes and a +83 rating in 166 career games. His 285 points are second most in Otters franchise history.
From the Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal:
People keep calling Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel “generational” players.
It’s a glowing description for the pair of 18-year-old centres expected to be the first and second picks in Friday’s National Hockey League draft at Sunrise, Fla. But what does that mean? Is it the next rung up from a franchise player?
“A generational player to me is a complete player who needs limited coaching, understands the time and temperature of a game, and can beat you with his work and beat you with his skill,” said St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock. “You don’t have to paint them a picture to get them to understand it. They already have it in their DNA.”
Bobby Orr had it. So did Wayne Gretzky. Mario Lemieux, for sure. They come along every 10 to 20 years, if hockey fans are lucky.
Eric Lindros was thought to be a generational talent as a teenager because he was so big and made plays with soft hands. Concussion problems, though, limited his climb up the generational scale. Sidney Crosby was a wunderkind growing up, but will he ever be on par with Orr, Gretzky and Lemieux?
McDavid and Eichel, the Boston University freshman centre, have been the rage for years and had scouts raving “watch this kid; he can do it all.” They are both coming to the NHL with a skill set and more hoopla than all the rest. But they haven’t played an NHL game.
from Gare Joyce of Sportsnet,
IT’S AFTER eight a.m. and Connor McDavid is rolling out of bed late. He comes downstairs and stumbles into the kitchen. He asks his mother how his father is feeling. “Still sick,” Kelly says. She also tells her younger son that he’ll be late for school unless he picks up the pace. It’s only around the corner and down the street, but still. She knows he was up late, too late, watching the Anaheim-Chicago game stretch into overtime. After the first OT his iPhone pinged: Bobby Orr with a reminder that a kid like him needs his rest. But there was no way he was going to be able to sleep without knowing who won.
Kelly might sigh but won’t get on Connor too hard. She’s just glad to have him home, even if she tells visitors that “the place is upside down” with him back and it’s only been a week. She tells them that he hasn’t unpacked his stuff from Erie, that she has no idea when or even if he’ll get around to it. After all, a lot of it stayed packed up all season, still folded and boxed up from last August. When he’s out of earshot, she talks about her kid becoming “a real clothes horse.” She could never have seen that happening. The picture of him in her mind is still the kid in the splash pants, sweatshirt, running shoes and baseball hat, stickhandling in the driveway. Forever 10.
from Marty Klinkenberg of the Globe and Mail,
It was the summer of 2011 when Jeff Jackson heard about the next great prospect in hockey.
The former assistant general manager of the Maple Leafs had only recently launched a career as an agent. One of his clients, Sam Gagne, was training at a rink in Oakville, Ont. Then a centre with the Edmonton Oilers, Gagne was approached by a skinny 14-year-old who asked if he could join him on the ice.
“Afterward, Sam called me,” Jackson says. “He said, ‘You have to find this kid. I have been in the NHL five years, and he can do things I can’t do. His name is David O’Connor.’”
Gagne remembered the bantam-aged youngster had told him he was about to begin playing for the Midget-AAA Marlies of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. So Jackson made an inquiry with the club.
“I asked about the O’Connor kid, and they chuckled,” Jackson says. “They said, ‘Oh, you must mean Connor McDavid.’”
Four years later, there is no confusing the teenager with blazing speed and supernatural skills. He is hockey’s most promising prodigy since Sidney Crosby – and potentially the greatest player to enter the sport since Wayne Gretzky.
“In the history of the NHL, how many players have been so highly touted?” asks Andrew Ference, the Oilers’ captain. “There are not many. Probably only Crosby and him.”
from Alex Ballingall of the Toronto Star,
“I’ve had a lot of other players come in with some bravado,” said McQuaid, a 45-year-old teacher at McDowell Senior High School in Erie, Pa., home of the OHL’s Erie Otters.
“More often than not their academic quality is embarrassing, and I’m pretty tough on them,” McQuaid said. “Within a week’s time, I knew that was not going to be the case with Connor.
“It was almost like he was a student first.”
Almost. Because, even though he won the CHL’s Student of the Year twice in a row, we’re still talking about Connor McDavid. You know, hockey’s next Chosen One?
But his academic prowess is undeniable. He got straight As in Grade 12 this year, according to McDowell principal Tim Rankin, acing courses:
social studies class on contemporary issues
Hardly basket weaving or underwater bubble blowing.
“He’s just been awesome around here,” Rankin told the Star this week. “His focus is so much on hockey, in terms of making himself the best he can be, and then academically, he clearly wanted to be very devoted to academic integrity and quality work.”
First it got "cute," then it got hilarious: Don Cherry always dedicates one Coach's Corner to the top prospects taking in the Stanley Cup Final, and Connor McDavid and Dylan Strome were very complimentary to each other, suggesting that having best pals to go through the tumult of a pre-draft season helped them greatly. Then Jack Eichel pulled a fast one and gave Don Cherry a USA Hockey polo shirt at the end of the segment, leaving Cherry ever-so-briefly tongue-tied.
There's a joke about Don probably confusing the U.S. National Team Development Program and the political party known as the NDP forever in there, but you'll figure it out.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
There were those around the hockey world who watched Connor McDavid walk down the studio hall with a camera in his face after Edmonton won the draft lottery and determined that the serious look on his face meant he was disappointed that his destiny was to go to the Oilers.
His dad said he’s absolutely sure that was not the case.
“To be honest, he was a little bit in shock,” said Brian.
“He would have had the exact same expression on his face if the winner had been Buffalo, Toronto or Arizona. The reality is that his future had just been decided by bingo balls.”
Brian said he was aware of certain members of the media who reacted by suggesting maybe Connor would pull an Eric Lindros and decide he didn’t want to go where he was picked. He said these media members neither know his son nor, obviously, his history.
from Matt Higgins of the New York Times,
For Connor McDavid, an 18-year-old center for the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League and the most anticipated N.H.L. prospect in decades, compliments accrue as steadily as goals and assists.
The Otters’ assistant coach Jay McKee, who played 13 seasons as an N.H.L. defenseman, has been known to pull out his phone on the bench during games to record a clip of McDavid’s dazzling play.
Tim Murray, general manager of the Buffalo Sabres, a self-described “glass-half-empty guy” not given to giddy appraisals, said he has not seen a better junior player. “I watch him too much and I think too much about him,” said Murray, who has been scouting teenage N.H.L. prospects for 23 seasons. “I wish I could help myself.”
Sherry Bassin, the Otters’ 75-year-old owner who possesses a lifetime of hockey memories and a voice like an old record, scratchy and faint, recalled that the Hockey Hall of Famer Dale Hawerchuk, who coaches the O.H.L. rival Barrie Colts, said of McDavid: “He skates like Bobby Orr. He has the vision of Wayne Gretzky. And he handles the puck like Mario Lemieux.”
The Ottawa Sun's Bruce Garrioch offers his usual amount of rumors in a Sunday column discussing scoops from around the league, but on an evening that even the New York Times profiled Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel, Garrioch's most interesting tidbit involves the "TankGate" situation. According to Garrioch, the league is pretty peeved by the Sabres and Coyotes' rather blatant attempts to finish lowest in the league:
“It’s embarrassing,” a league executive said.
The battle for No. 1 pick Connor McDavid of the Erie Otters has been one that teams have been watching all season. For the most part, the Sabres have been sitting in last place, but once the Coyotes cleared the deck at the trade deadline they’ve really gone downhill.
“You can’t blame the teams involved because there is a reward for failure and that’s the highest odds in the lottery,” said the executive. “Maybe you need to change the lottery to give all the teams that miss the playoffs an even chance at the No. 1 pick, or not weight it so much. Who knows?”
The league did change the lottery that gives the team that finishes last only a 20% chance at the No. 1 pick so there has been a major move. Now, they can’t fall below No. 2 so if they don’t win it’s not that big a loss. Perhaps, the league needs to take a second look.
Garrioch continues with a cornucopia of rumors...
Regardless of whether he did so because the Toronto Maple Leafs are in the Connor McDavid sweepstakes or not, the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons penned a lovely article about Connor McDavid and Erie Otters owner Sherry Bassin, and it's a plain old superb read about a young man and a hockey owner who doesn't treat "the franchise" like a simple commodity:
“He’s great guy and I love listening to him,” McDavid, an NHL superstar in waiting, said of his general manager and pal. “I think we’ll be friends (for a long time). When he talks, people listen. He has that effect. He’s a great speaker. Any time he gets in front of an audience, he gives a pretty good speech. It’s always something you take away and remember for a while.
“I’m very lucky to have him around ... He’s been through it all and he has no bias,” said McDavid. “He’ll tell you straight how it is. It’s one of the things I love about him.”
When McDavid broke his hand in an ill-advised fight in November, the entire hockey world stopped to ponder what it all meant. But no one thought about the mishap more than the kid himself. He saw his dream season, his world juniors possibility, his matchup with Jack Eichel crumbling away in a hospital room. It was a terrible time.
“When he got hurt,” said Bassin, “I got hurt. When the doctor came in, and it didn’t look good at first, he was sitting on the hospital bed, slumped over, and he was looking so sad that I just went over and put my arms around him and I hugged him and I said ‘I love you, you’re going to be OK. This is going to be OK.’
“It was pretty emotional for all of us,” he added. “His dad was sitting right there and everybody got choked up. I think that sealed the special bond we have.”
from Michael Grange of Sportsnet,
So would having McDavid starring in revenue rich Canada help the league more? Or would having him do the LeBron thing and prop up a weak US market be the best medicine for the league?
Even among bottom five teams there are widely diverging scenarios. It’s hard to begrudge the Sabres getting him, but the real debate for the NHL if they were to get in the lottery fixing game would boil down to two choices, according to sports marketing experts.
Would the league be better off with McDavid going to a non-traditional hockey market and doing for Arizona or Carolina what Crosby did for Pittsburgh, where the once struggling Penguins have a new arena, an eight-year sellout streak and are local TV ratings colossus?
Or would the NHL be better off with McDavid in Toronto, giving the league something they’ve arguably never had: a sure-fire superstar in the league’s biggest, richest market?
McDavid had 4 goals and 2 assists last night, his first hat trick in the OHL.
from Irene Thomaidis of the Toronto Sun,
With the world junior in full swing, the hype around Team Canada phenom Connor McDavid is hitting another peak.
And what bigger hype machine is there than Twitter to document the interest in the Newmarket native — or the tournament in general.
“The world junior is really a perfect storm in terms of driving conversation on Twitter,” Twitter Canada’s Christopher Doyle said. “It’s Team Canada’s best young hockey stars taking on the world, in front of a large national TV audience during the holidays.”
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Boston University freshman Jack Eichel's status as an NHL prospect has reached the point that he almost sounds too good to be true.
In addition to being the most-talked-about U.S. center prospect since Mike Modano was drafted No. 1 overall in 1988, Eichel also has a humility and leadership quality that endears him to teammates and coaches.
"It's just Jack being Jack," said Team USA general manager Jim Johannson. "He's a true team guy who leads by his level of play and by his interaction with everyone, including his teammates, coaches, training staff and equipment guys. He handles everything in a real comfortable and mature way. It all comes natural to him."
from Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail,
For years, people have been telling McDavid that he is a once-in-a-generation hockey talent. He’s dealt with that pressure the same way he reacts to a pushy maintenance worker – politely deferential, but in full control of the situation.
The best way to describe McDavid’s oversized bag of on-ice tricks is that he plays as if he’s spotlit.
That’s easy to do when you have the puck. McDavid commands attention even when he’s nowhere near the play.
You could spend 20 minutes watching him sit on the bench.
For the whole time he’s out there, he’s stalking, proactive and reactive all at the same time. The best comparison is Mario Lemieux’s predatory glide.
The Edmonton press has always impressed me because it so exhaustively analyzes its team's performance (as you probably know, they were figuring out "fancy stats" a decade ago), and their passion seems to reflect the passion of the team's fan base. It's hard to watch the Oilers go through such an incredibly difficult period of time because you know that the bad times are going to be exhaustively analyzed...
And while writing all but a novel about the Oilers' firing of coach Dallas Eakins' this evening, the Edmonton Journal's Terry Jones simply could not afford to not "go there" and wonder whether the installation of GM Craig MacTavish as coach while Oklahoma City Barons coach Todd Nelson slowly but surely takes over = no "Failing For McDavid"--which, sadly enough, might have been the best thing for the Oilers to do:
The trouble with the move is that the “new coach spikes” could effectively result in the Oilers not finishing 30th overall and take themselves out of the Connor McDavid Sweepstakes with Jack Eichel as a consolation prize if somebody else won the draft lottery.
With a generational player (or two) out there, this is not a year to finish 26th instead of 30th. The Oilers already ended up with Sam Gagner instead of Patrick Kane because they went and won the last game of a regular season.
“It’s not in anybody’s DNA in professional sports to talk about that or to try and do that,” said MacTavish. We’re very much trying to turn the performance level of the hockey club around. Certainly our draft status had no bearing on this.”
The Grey Cup is taking place today, which is why the Wings-Canucks matinee is the only NHL game on the schedule, and the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons spends the vast majority of his Sunday notebook discussing the match-up between the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Calgary Stampeders (airing at 6 PM EST on TSN), but he spends one meaty paragraph discussing all things NHL-related:
I wonder if Bob McCown read his own book. In the bestselling 100 Greatest Hockey Arguments, McCown makes a case against Paul Henderson’s inclusion in the Hockey Hall of Fame. A strong case. Lately, he has been pushing the Henderson Hall of Fame agenda. Strange ... On Saturday afternoon, the Montreal Canadiens and Vancouver Canucks were tied for the most points in the NHL and that has to be wrong, doesn’t it? ... The first quarter MVP in the NHL: Pekka Rinne ...
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via the Erie Otters,
The Erie Otters announced on Wednesday that forward Connor McDavid suffered a fracture of the 5th Metacarpal bone on his right hand during last night’s game against the Mississauga Steelheads.
McDavid will not require surgery and is expected to miss the next 5-6 weeks of the Otters' schedule.
from Damien Cox of Sportsnet,
Was it McDavid’s choice to fight? Ultimately, yes. But we know the pressure that is put on hockey players to “man up” and drop the gloves, and we know of the sport’s general indifference to the abuse heaped upon the better players by the less talented.
We also know that there are knuckle-dragging scouts out there who would excitedly put a star beside McDavid’s fight as though it represents his guts and desire. These are the same folks who see PIMs are a big plus with any player.
So sure it was his choice, but then again, not really, right? The highlight shows put fights on display every night, the newspapers love to run pictures of scraps and there’s no shortage of those who argue that fighting is an integral part of the game that must never be eliminated for fear of the consequences.
Much of the culture of Canadian hockey propagated by the usual suspects is that fighting in hockey is manly, it represents courage and the best values in young men, and it demonstrates a commitment to the sport that non-fighters don’t possess.
Junior hockey, of course, is right at the epicentre of this culture, particularly as it is played out in smaller cities and towns across the country.
Not the best video but good enough to see what happened...
added 7:33pm, A better quality video....
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
What sets a generational player apart from a talented or a franchise player is his impact on and off the ice. Generational players can become not just the face of a franchise, but the face of the league.
The Roy-led Canadiens in 1993 were the last Canadian team to win the Stanley Cup, a good but not great NHL team spurred on to success by a single, galvanizing star.
The Los Angeles Kings have proved in recent years you don’t necessarily need that one defining player to win a championship, but it sure helps in critical moments to have one to rally around.
Do McDavid and/or Eichel genuinely fit the bill as future generational players?
“To me, they do,” answered Craig Button, the former NHL general manager and long-time hockey scout, now a commentator for TSN. “You watch Connor McDavid; he’s electrifying. Remember when Guy Lafleur would jump over the boards and everybody in the building knew he was on the ice? Then he’d get the puck and it was like, ‘Okay, here we go.’ Well, that’s McDavid. I use this distinction carefully, but McDavid is to Eichel what Gretzky and Messier were to one another. Eichel has the power game – he can impose himself on opponents with his size, whereas with McDavid, it’s the way he skates and the way he thinks.
“When you compare these guys to players like Messier and Mario Lemieux, that’s rarefied air – and to me, they’re in rarefied air.”
At the age of 17, Connor McDavid is already under constant pressure, being deemed ‘The Next One,’ on the ice he’s living up to the hype, and off the ice he’s in great hands, as he trains under the tutelage of Gary Roberts.
Bob McKenzie sits down with top prospect Connor McDavid where they discuss the draft, the perceived competition with Jack Eichel, the upcoming World Junior tournament and his superstitions.
You can watch the 16:35 minute interview below or at TSN.