Last night the NHL’s centennial season began with a thunderous boom. Historical franchises like the Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Edmonton Oilers, Calgary Flames and Toronto Maple Leafs kicked it off.
But it was a pair of teenagers that took center stage. Newly appointed Oilers captain Connor McDavid and in-the-making super star Austin Matthews (both 19 years old) absolutely stole the spotlight.
Ladies and gentlemen, don’t look now, but we may have the next Sydney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin on our hands.
For Leafs Nation, allow me to introduce you to Hurricane Matthews. The first overall pick in last seasons draft wasted no time becoming a national phenomenon. Scoring on the first three shots he had in the game. A feat that not even Wayne Gretzky, Mike Bossy, Mario Lemieux or Alex Ovechkin can claim.
Matthews tightened every muscle in his face not to crack a smile after scoring his first career hat trick, but that didn’t stop his mother from shedding a tear or two. By the time the buzzer sounded to end period two, Matthews had four goals to his name and was beating the Ottawa Senators by himself. No, that’s not a typo. Matthews scored four goals before the start of the third period.
While the Senators would score late in regulation and again in overtime to spoil his coming out party, Matthews has officially solidified himself as one of the best in the league at taking what appears to be nothing and creating something. Combining the hands and skating ability of Pavel Datsyuk with a nose for the net similar to Patrick Kane, the sky truly is the limit. One thing is for sure, hockey fans across various regions will be tuning in to Maple Leaf games because for the first time in nearly 24 years they are once again, must see television.
“Matthews the Magnificent”…has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
New building, new captain, new jerseys.
For the Edmonton Oilers, the ideology is that the past will remain there, while the future unfolds.
Now, if last night was any indication of how the rest of the season is going to go for the Edmonton Oilers, then buy your tickets now. In his first game as the Oilers captain, Connor McDavid reminded fans why he was given such an honor. McDavid had two goals and one assist for the Oilers as they were skating off the ice with a 7-4 victory against the Calgary Flames.
McDavid flew down the wing, out striding Calgary defenseman Dennis Wideman to draw a penalty shot. With time, space and speed McDavid rarely falters in the essence of the skill v. skill element of the penalty shot. Essentially putting the final nail in the coffin en route to their victory.
Palpable is the only word worthy enough to describe the hype that has embodied fans who witness these two young men play the sport they love. While it’s still early, it’s also not obscene to predict that they will be doing just this for the remainder of their careers. Only Crosby and Ovechkin 11 years ago made a similar splash. Now McDavid and Matthews don’t play for teams that would consider each other rivals, but any time you get two proud Canadian franchises under one roof, as the saying goes, ‘all bets are off’.
Here’s to many more performances that encapsulate why we are all hockey fans at heart.
Happy Hockey Season everyone.