Tag Archives: Connor McDavid

Dazzling Debuts

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 MatthewsThe 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?

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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.

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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.

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Oh Captain, My Captain

We’ve all been there.

Having to take orders from someone significantly younger than you is a difficult reality to come to grips with. However, that is how the normal work world operates. Professional sports operates in a different realm.

When it comes to the Edmonton Oilers, fans would rather spend their time talking about what was and not what is, and for good reason. Some of the greatest players to ever put on a pair of skates have played for them at one point or another. A fact even more mind boggling when you consider their inception was the 1979-80 season.

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In the shadow of the 2007 Stanley Cup Finals loss, the Oilers vowed to remain competitive in the ever changing landscape that is the NHL. Thus far, that promise has fallen through, with no lack of effort.

2010 marked a ‘revitalization’ of sorts for the Oilers with Taylor Hall being selected first overall. But it wasn’t until the man pictured above came to town that the fans truly bought in.

Connor McDavid goes by many nick names like McJesus or McDaddy. High praise for a kid who just turned 19 years old. Just ask Wayne Gretzky how easy it is being the face of a franchise, the answer may be a startling one considering how well he ended up handling it.

At 19 years and 266 days old, Connor McDavid has officially become the second youngest awarded captain in NHL history. Only Brian Bellows beat him out at 19 years and 131 days. Gabriel Landeskog was 19 years 286 days and Sidney Crosby was 19 years 297 days to fill out the latter.

What happens next is still a mystery.

McDavid is a fantastic hockey player, with more skill in his finger nails than most of us have in general. Every team hes ever played on share distinct similarities, they win. To be frank this was common place before he made his NHL debut. While the skill may be ever present, the leadership ability leaves something to be desired.

Gretzky was able to handle the pressures of leading a team in a hockey crazy city while being the best in the game. Similarly, Crosby went on to be the youngest captain to ever lift the Stanley Cup. Some years later Colorado tried to mimic this by appointing Landeskog as their youngest captain and to be blunt, it hasn’t worked at all.

Edmonton has a long wish list with stability in net and the desperate need for an all-purpose three zone defender in the forefront. While McDavid adds an instant injection of adrenaline. It be ludicrous to expect him to play goalie, defense and score at the same. This has been Edmonton’s Achilles heel for nearly a decade.

For this very reason, I potentially fear for McDavid’s future in Edmonton. The blame game begins quickly when you don’t win.

While Edmonton may be anything but prepared to compete for a championship, they have made a bold move. Placing their eggs in McDavid’s basket may be dangerous waters to venture through. Nobody said he was going it alone though. Stanley Cup champion Milan Lucic is a major presence down the wing and Adam Larson is a coming of age defender. The Oilers just hope Larson will grow into his body and be able to lug Shea Weber or Ryan Suter minutes on the ice.

The province of Alberta is starving for hockey superiority to return to its roots. While Calgary appears to have discovered a formula that works, Edmonton is still looking to pick up the pieces.

McDavid could head down the path of Landeskog, or he could impersonate Sidney Crosby. I have a feeling Edmonton hopes its the latter.

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Bottom line is simple, being absent from the playoff since 2007 is anything but self motivating. Perhaps a bold transition in leadership and a brand new arena can be enough for the roster to follow suit.

One thing that certainly wont help the situation is the absence of Taylor Hall in the lineup. The near point per game player in his career as an Oiler was swapped straight up for the previously stated Adam Larson.

Considering players like Yakupov and Eberle have been frequent flyers on the trade rumor plane. Hall being dealt to New Jersey came as a major shock.

Did management believe McDavid could come into the lineup to replace those numbers in his sophomore year? Or was there a fear of Hall and McDavid not gelling well because of the expectations surrounding Connor being the new face of the franchise? Don’t forget Taylor Hall was billed as just that when the Oilers selected him first overall in 2010.

Whatever the reasoning, Edmonton had a whirlwind off-season.

Drastic change has been the trend for a half decade, but the payoff hasn’t come for a team chasing some stability. With McDavid being the new captain, Lucic under a big deal and Larson being the go to guy on defense, perhaps we will begin to see what was always promised…

Winning. Don’t hold your breath.