Connor McDavid as a prospect has been on the radar for a long time. Everyone knew he was special, but there’s a rather large range of possible outcomes when we talk about 15-year old whiz kids. Is he good? Very good? Exceptional? Generational? The answer should always be ‘too soon to know’ but in McDavid’s case the gathering excitement was very real, very early.
One of the greatest chapters of the McDavid story is his handling of the OHL Draft. It is common in the modern era of junior hockey for the top players to ‘send the message’ to teams in regard to where they’ll play (and where they won’t go). The London Knights (as an example) are a popular destination for junior players who have the power to impact their destination.
Connor McDavid was heading to Erie—not a high profile destination—the moment he was granted the right to enter the draft. Fans? They were thrilled. Victor Fernandes of GoErie.com described the mood of the fans on the night before the OHL draft:
- Fernandes: The draft party couldn’t arrive soon enough for fans.
They endured the worst season in franchise history with a league-worst
10-52-3-3 record, which assured the Otters the No. 1 pick in the draft.
Fans were ready to meet the player they believe will help turn around
the team. Source
The player? Well, this is going to become a theme during this series — the player was calm, cool and collected:
- McDavid: “It’s exciting. I guess I should be nervous but I’m not that nervous. I’m just really looking forward to it.” Source
Connor McDavid made a lot of dreams come true during this period, including Sherry Bassin, managing partner of the Erie Otters. McDavid’s presence on his team would represent a watershed, in attendance, winning and playoff revenue.
- Bassin: “I can’t say enough about the upbringing
and the direction that he’s had from his parents. I know
those other guys [Ekblad and Tavares] were exceptional, but this guy
will help set the standard. If there is a hockey god, he’s been good to us by having this young man play for us.” Source
In preparing for this series, the theme of family runs through the Connor McDavid story and provides us with a window into his upbringing, his value system and ultimately his reasons for not forcing Erie to trade him. It appears that Connor McDavid, with help from his parents, is that rare individual who figures out at an early age that it’s not where you are in life, but rather who you are and what you bring.
If Erie wasn’t a place for winning hockey, if Erie wasn’t associated with success, well, they’d just have to change that by turning around the Otters fortunes on the ice. With a 10-52-3-3 record as a backdrop there was plenty of room for improvement. The Erie Otters were a very bad hockey team.
Brock Otten, OHL Prospects
(September 20, 2012)
- Choice for: Emms Family Award (Rookie of the Year) – Connor McDavid
Come on, would you expect anyone else? I’ve seen McDavid play a few
times now and he’s the real deal folks. And while Erie may have stunk
the joint up last year, they’ve got a fair amount of talent at forward.
McDavid will have people to play with. An 80+ point season isn’t outside
the realm of possibility. Joshua Ho-Sang seems to be the other big
contender among the 2012 Draft class. He’ll get a lot of opportunity to
put up points in Windsor. A dark horse from the recent draft crop might
be Robby Fabbri in Guelph who appears to be getting every opportunity to
play in tough offensive situations. As far as Imports go, Sergei
Tolchinsky could have a big offensive year in the Soo.
McDavid would score 66 points in 63 games for a still-struggling Otters team, who would almost double their wins total (10 to 19) in his first season in Pennsylvania. McDavid, still 15, received a major endorsement contract from Reebok before the end of 2012 and the dream of playing in the OHL had come true.
Team success and more fame awaited McDavid in 2013, but he handled the considerable challenges of being a famous 15-year old incredibly well.
Previously in this series:
Up next: World Juniors and sky’s the limit
#EPSstrong T-Shirts for Charity
The fine folks at Print Machine designed a commemorative #EPSstrong t-shirt with the goal of raising as much money for the family of Constable Daniel Woodall as possible. If you’re looking to pick one up to support the cause shirts are available here.