Gretzky talks McDavid, Chiarelli, and coming back to the Oilers organization

Yesterday, the Edmonton Oilers took part in the Oil Country Championship celebrity pro/am and Chris Wescott caught up with Wayne Gretzky and asked about a few different Oilers topics, including Connor McDavid’s new contract.

When asked about Connor’s new deal, the Great One reaffirmed something we’ve all known since the first we saw him step on the ice.

“Those kind of players come around every now and then… They’re rare and Connor is a special, unique young man.”

Unicorn! Tell me more about Connor, Mr. Gretzky sir.

“He’s dealt with pressure and microscopes since a young age, he comes from a really nice family, he’s very mature for 20-years-old, and he deserves every penny he signed for.”

I know it’s shocking* but I completely agree. Connor McDavid isn’t just some normal hockey player and he deserves to get paid more than basically everyone else. In 10 years when the next, next, next one comes around then I’m sure that kid will be rolling in cake too, but for now, it’s Connor’s time. Party on, Wayne!

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“He’s gonna be a mainstay in this city and this organization for a long time… I know that the coaching staff, and Peter (Chiarelli), and Bob Nicholson are hoping that he now takes this team to the next level of not just wanting to make the playoffs but to get to the Finals and win a Stanley Cup.”

I know what Wayne is getting at here, but having the coaches and management hoping that Connor can take them all the way seems too close to a finish line for my liking. They’d better not just be hoping. They need to make sure they’re busting their asses to surround him with the best possible talent that can fit under the salary cap, and anything less is unacceptable.

I know, I know they’re working to ice the best team possible but you know what I mean.

Anyway… What else did Wayne say about Connor?

“It’s wonderful for the National Hockey League that he signed here, it’s great for the city of Edmonton that he’s here, and, listen, I know that Connor is thrilled to be living and playing in the city of Edmonton.”

Wait… Isn’t the NHL only in Toronto? What about the fact that Toronto is still sad that McDavid is an Oiler and not part of the leaves? IS THAT REALLY GOOD FOR THE LEAGUE, WAYNE?! ???

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*not shocking at all


When asked about some of the changes that have happened this summer, Gretzky was very complimentary about Chiarelli’s approach.

“Peter is one of the best hockey people in the game. He’s a tremendous General Manager and his track record speaks for itself. He’s a diligent worker, (he’s) thorough, he loves the game and he loves this organization, and he loves this team.”

Even though I’ve been critical at times, there is little doubt that it’s easier to put trust into Swag Daddy than it was for either of his predecessors. Like Gretzky said, Chiarelli is a guy with a Cup win on his resume, and that should buy him more leash than a GM without, but that doesn’t make him impervious to criticism. That said, it’s hard to not still have a bunch of time for the guy.

“He’s going to do everything he can to put the best opportunity for Todd (McLellan) to have a Stanley Cup Champion.”

Regardless of where you’re at on the Chiarelli job satisfaction meter, there’s little doubt that he’s putting his stamp on this team. He’s gone out and acquired guys that play his style of hockey and it’s drastically different team to watch than what we were used to for seemingly years on end.

“It’s a close group of kids. I was fortunate enough to be around a lot last year and there’s really not one bad person in the whole group. They’re just really good, responsible young men that are proud to be Oilers and it makes everything very exciting.”

It’s interesting that he mentioned the quality of characters that are on the team now. Why? You know why.

*clears throat*

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?One bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch, girl. Give it one more time before you give up on love.?

On coming back to Edmonton…

For me, one of the greatest things about last season was seeing how often Gretzky was on TV reacting to the highs and lows that bother all of us as fans.

“Part of coming back was that I love the game of hockey. So I’ve had as much fun – or more fun – than anybody. I feel honoured that Daryl (Katz) and Bob Nicholson had asked me to come on board and be a part of this.”

Wayne is always so humble and I love it. How could the Oilers not want to bring back the greatest player in the history of the game to be a mentor for the current best player in the game—it makes every shade of sense to me. I was actually surprised to see how often Gretzky was actually around.

“I was probably around a lot more than even I anticipating being, but it was a lot of fun. It’s a great group of kids and they have a great deal of energy that everybody feeds off of so I’m very proud of the fact that I’m back and part of the organization.”

I’m proud to see you too, Wayne. Having you back in the city is good for everybody that loves the Edmonton Oilers, and there is nothing better than seeing you back where you belong.

“Hopefully, we can all be part of winning a Stanley Cup down the road.”

Amen, Wayne. Amen.

Check out the entire interview here:

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