21
Photo Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

Scheifele: McDavid “was created in a hockey lab”

Over at the Players Tribune, Mark Scheifele talked about the five toughest players he’s had to play against in his career, and, as you’d expect, Connor McDavid was on the list. Let’s break it down.

One thing that I love about hockey players is their willingness to pump a guy’s tires when they deem it appropriate, and when it comes to Connor McDavid it’s always a good time for praise. McFanboying aside, I think it’s cool to know that these guys are huge fans of the game just like the rest of us and it’s interesting to hear them talk about what it’s like to face them on the ice.

Go on, Mark. Tell us about Connor — we’re all listening.

The fastest guy in the league. The best hands in the league. Amazing hockey sense. And he’s 20 years old. It’s pretty scary.

Slow down there, big shooter. I’m going to need a minute to dim the lights and grab some candles so that I can soak this in properly. Mmmmm, Connor’s speed… hockey sense… ohhhhhhhhh… Wait, is this thing on? *adjusts collar*

I remember the first time I saw Connor skate in person, I was like, O.K., this guy was just born different. He’s genetically superior. He was created in a hockey lab. I mean, he’s taking the same amount of strides as everybody else… he’s wearing the same skates as everybody else… and somehow he’s going twice as fast?

This is hilarious because it’s the exact same thought that we’ve all had when we watch him. How the hell is he moving so fast? Where is the turbo button we’re not seeing? Where is he hiding it? I know it’s there!

There’s not a single NHL team that has figured out how to handle his speed on the rush.

Amen, Mark. The speed he can generate through the neutral zone is almost enough to cause liftoff. It’s beautiful, isn’t it? What else do you love respect about him?

Technically, Connor’s got the ability to turn on a dime and then be back to full speed in a single stride. Which makes him pretty unique — it usually takes a normal player two or three strides. And even within the phrase full speed, Connor’s different. Because there’s really two different types of speed: skating speed, and then hockey speed.

We must also remember 1994’s Speed, starring Keanu Reeves. It’s a hell of a movie and could be some of the best use of speed until Connor rolled around. Not to mention, it’s some of Keanu’s finest work, in my opinion. Anyway, that’s another conversation. Go on…

What I mean is, if you can skate really fast, that’s great, but there are a lot of things defenses can do to stop that. But if you skate fast and you think the game fast, then you’re almost impossible to defend. That’s hockey speed. And Connor’s hockey brain is next-level, just like Sid’s brain.

I was wondering when Scheifele was going to compare those two guys and BAM there it was. It’s funny, though, because Connor and Sid have very different styles but are both so dominant that they can really only be compared to each other. How do they compare? Scheifele offers an inside perspective.

I got a chance to play with Connor on Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey, and then I skated with him this summer, and he would do things on a daily basis that would make my jaw drop. Genetically, he was definitely born to play hockey, but the guy also works his butt off.

I’ll buy that. I mean, a court order prevents me from getting within 100 yards of swabbing his mouth and sending it off to 23 and Me but I assume the results would prove what we’ve known all along. “THIS MAN IS NOT MORTAL. HE IS SOME KIND OF SHANG TSUNG SHAPESHIFTING HOCKEY GOD” is probably what that would say, but I’m really just guessing.

It sounds like a cliché, but the best players in the world work as hard as they can at being the best. Even when they’re at the top, they love what they’re doing and they love to learn. With the way that Connor works, I can see him having a similar progression to Sid, where he adds new aspects to his game every summer.

The best part about this whole thing is that Connor still has a few summers left until he gets into his prime. How scary is that going to be? I imagine a 24-year-old Connor McDavid shooting lasers from his eyes with a boombox on his shoulder while he’s dangling through every player in the NHL. I’m so excited to see how good he can get because I truly believe that he’s not playing the same game as the rest of the league. He’s Neo in the Matrix and he’s just now starting to see the world in code.

But what’s so cool about hockey is that if you watch Sid play, and then you watch Connor, it’s like studying a totally different animal. Sid’s game is about leverage and vision and working down low with his back to the play. Connor’s game is about explosiveness and acceleration and getting you on your heels. The two best players in the world really don’t play anything alike. The common denominator is that they’re both animals.

CAN I GUESS WHAT KIND OF ANIMAL? I bet it’s a Tiger… No wait… He’s a Jaguar! Jaguars are bad ass. Not only are they cool as hell they also drag the carcasses of their kills up into trees so that they can eat in peace. That’s kinda like what happens when defencemen try to hook and latch onto McDavid to get a free ride or a taste of what it’s like to be as fast as he is. Gord knows they can’t stop him so hitching a ride is the only thing that really makes sense.

Anyway…

Make sure to head over to The Players Tribune to check out what Scheifele said about the other four guys on his list. Like I said, it’s an interesting dive into the mind of one of the NHL’s best young players and reading his appreciation for the elite level talent around the league is worth wasting a few minutes of company time. As for McDavid, I’ll never get tired of reading quotes from other players gushing about him. It’s nice to know that they appreciate him almost as much as we do.*

*it’s not really close

  • LT-SKYWALKER8911

    I’ve seen footage of a Jaguar killing an alligator in a river and then dragging him onto the land to devour it’s corpse.

    Pretty apt metaphor for what Conor does to NHL d men.

  • Jordan88

    People would tell me about how amazing Connor was before he was mainstream when he was just getting into junior.

    Then I seen him at the World Juniors. And he broke every fundamental law of physics I knew.

  • OriginalPouzar

    The next “skill” that Connor should work on, in my opinion, is how to play through being shadowed in the neutral zone in order to separate and be able to generate space and speed.
    When Connor isn’t able to gain speed through the neutral zone, he is much less effective (Vancouver), however, if he does gain speed and space in the neutral zone, his performances put him put him the conversation with the all time legends, 99 66 and 4 (Calgary game).

  • Tonto

    Difference between Nuge and Shceifele was their developments. Shecefile played in the minors and was mentored by Ladd,Blake, Little and Buff. All veteran guys who played on the Top 6.

    • Jason Gregor

      To be accurate Schiefele never played a regular season game in the AHL. He did play 10 games in a playoff run once after his junior season was over. He did play two more years of junior after being drafted. He needed more time to develop. Would RNH be better today if he had spent two more years in junior? Good question, but one none of us can answer accurately. In 2015 RNH had 56 points. Scheifele had 49. The next year RNH had 34 points (in 55 games) and Scheifele had 61.
      Last year Scheifele had 82 points while RNH had 43. Both played 82 games. I’m not sure how the two years of junior impacted Scheifele even after he had played two years of NHL hockey.

      With McDavid in Edmonton RNH didn’t get 1st unit PP time the past few years. Scheifele did. There are always different circumstances from team to team. If Scheifele was drafted by Edmonton and RNH by Winnipeg would their careers be different? Probably. I’m not sure Scheifele suddenly jumped ahead of RNH in 2015 and 2016 because of Ladd, etc. RNH had been more productive one year earlier. He looked ready to take another step, but then McDavid arrived and that changes things. And Scheifele developed at a different rate. None of us, even scouts can predict exactly how it unfolds, which makes the draft so unique.

  • I am Batman

    It doesn’t matter whoever and whatever is said by Connor.

    All that matters are points in the win column that put us on playoffs and then winning a cup.

    Scheifele saying McDavid is good at hockey…. captain obvious much?

  • Heschultzhescores

    We need less falling in love with Conner on a daily basis and more focus on the guys who aren’t Conner and need to step up. We’re gonna fall in love and out of the playoffs if we aren’t careful. Performance during the event is all that matters…not hypothetical amazement with what his potential is.

    • Leichs

      I agree, who cares what everyone thinks of Connor. Yeah he was created in a lab but guess what, the Jets just kicked our ass. Surprise, you need more than one player to be successful. Cant focus on anything positive in life with the devils and vegas being 4-0 and 3-0 and flames at 3-1 while here we are at the bottom with 2 massive points. Lets get it together boys so I can start to enjoy my life again.

      • QuitForRealThisTime

        Only been 2 games…but ya the Avs look good. Almost have as many wins as last year. Avs have to be one of the biggest yo-yo teams in history. They’re good, they suck, they’re good, they suck. Like an Opera diet…sorry I know the was bad.