Over at TSN, Connor McDavid sat down with Darren Dreger to talk a little bit about representing Canada at the World Championships, the disappointment of missing out on the NHL playoffs, and what comes next for the Oilers and their captain. As always, I’ve got the breakdown on the conversation. Check it out.
On representing Team Canada at the World Championships
When asked if he felt a sense of obligation to represent Team Canada at the World Championships, McDavid actually talked about the opportunity glowingly. If he felt obligated to do it, that certainly didn’t show in his answer:
“I’ve had two really great experiences after the season. To be able to go and represent my country and win a gold medal almost makes the year feel better. You feel like you accomplished something.”
I can see that. Wanting to finish the year off on a high note would send you into the offseason in a better headspace, one would think. I mean, it makes sense. Getting ready for the next season will certainly be easier if you have something positive to build on, right Connor?
“My first year in Edmonton, same kind of story where we weren’t very good and all the disappointment. Then you go to the World Championships and you win — it was so much fun. So you’re looking to do the same and end the year on a high note. It’s always fun to represent your country no matter the event.”
Hey, man, do whatever you need to feel good heading into the summer. If you need to play more hockey — do it. If you need to take some time off on the beach — bronze it up. If you want me to come to your house and tell you boring ass blogger stories to get you bored enough for an afternoon nap then I’m there. I don’t care what it is that makes Connor McDavid happy, it needs to happen.
“The other side of it is that the World Championships doesn’t create the same fatigue or isn’t as physically challenging as the playoffs, but you want to train your body to be able to play in May and later in the year. You don’t want your body to get used to sitting around after April 10th.”
Training your body? I wouldn’t have even thought of that! Then again, I guess that’s why I’m not a pro-athlete, huh? For me, training my body means increasing my alcohol tolerance so that I don’t get embarrassed by passing out before 9 o’clock at Nation events.
On the NHL going back to the Olympics
One of the things that annoyed hockey fans endlessly was the absence of NHL players from this past year’s Olympics in South Korea. When asked about a possible return for 2022, McDavid didn’t waste any time getting to the point.
“The NHL should be at the Olympics. Not to say that the Olympics weren’t a success or anything this year because they were… but I think the Olympics is about ‘best on best’ and hockey should be no different.”
C’mon, man. Rob Klinkhammer ranks among the very best and you know it. Smh.
On winning NHL awards and being snubbed from the Hart
If there’s one thing we know about Connor McDavid it’s that he’s as humble as he is talented. So when Dreger asked him about the difference between winning the Ted Lindsay and Hart Trophy I was excited to hear his answer.
“You don’t want to take anything away from the Hart and take anything away from the media, but to have your opponents and teammates and guys that you go up against every night… for them to vote and give you that respect or think of you on that level is very special. Last year, when I won it, it was such a nice feeling. It really does mean a lot.”
BOOM! Take that, media. Take that in your non-Connor voting faces. The Ted Lindsay means more because it’s voted on by his peers and not some old crusty scribe that’s likely covered in crumbs. Nailed it!
One of the stranger arguments I’ve seen on the Internet this spring had to do with whether or not McDavid should be nominated for the Hart despite the Oilers not making the playoffs. Personally, I can’t think of a player more valuable to their team, in any situation, than Connor McDavid but I’m not a PHWA member so I don’t get a say. When asked about it, Connor said what you probably expected him to:
“You obviously catch wind of it from being around the hockey world and obviously the decision was made that you have to be a playoff team and I hope that standard continues the rest of the way. And rightly so, it’s about being in the playoffs and winning games and we didn’t do that this year.”
I love that Connor threw in the “I hope that standard continues” line because it’s almost like he was mocking how inconsistent some media people can be. Maybe next year the rule changes after player X goes on a miracle run but misses the playoffs and then people will point back to this year’s nominees and wonder what the difference is. Maybe Connor can see the future? If I told you that Connor could see into the future and that’s why he said these words specifically would you doubt me? I bet you wouldn’t.
When Dreger asked him whether or not the verbiage should change to make it more clear what the Hart Trophy is awarded for, McDavid went full diplomat:
“I don’t think it matters. You gotta win games and we didn’t and that’s all that matters. All three of those guys had great years and there could have been three other names on that list too.”
Bless his humble heart.
On finishing the season on a rocket ship to Mars
Remember when McDavid was like 10th or something in league scoring around the All-Star Break and then went supernova and finished the year with 108 points. Dreger asked how that was possible:
“I don’t really know what it was.”
LIAR! You’re just infinitely better than everyone else and that’s what it basically boils down. You don’t have to be ashamed of that — embrace it. You’re very very good and everyone is not as good. Simple! But I get it, you can’t say that because you’re as humble as you are talented. Fortunately, I can say it for you.
“I was just feeling good and there was a little bit of luck too. And the team started to play better. Whether or not we were winning games, I think that that in the second half we were a better team overall.”
Look at this guy: Always giving his teammates credit when he basically carried every single one of them on his back. That’s captain material. Marone.
About the season and the Oilers being better next year
Obviously, the Oilers weren’t very good this past season. You know it, I know it, and Connor knows it. When asked about the gongshow that was the 2017-18 season, McDavid, once again, took the high road and looked at the positives.
“It would have been very easy for us to just come in for the second half, or later on when we were really out of it, and just sit back and say ‘ah well not this year we’ll just get it next year’ and just kinda mosey on through the year. We found a way to try and get better and keep coming to the rink and striving to do things right and I think we did that. I’m proud of that.”
While the Oilers did play better in the back half of the year, there were still plenty of cringe-worthy games that I could have gone without. If we’re being honest, you played much better in the back half of the season but most of your teammates didn’t. That’s what you wanted to say, right?
“Obviously we’re not in the playoffs and fans are disappointed, but I’m proud of the way we were able to close out the year and hold our heads high.”
If you ignore the six and five-game losing streaks then yes, I agree. Sorry, Connor, I love you but I can’t sit here and pretend like those stretches didn’t happen. Fortunately, I could never be mad at you so we’ll move on.
One of the more interesting parts of the interview was when Dreger straight up asked Connor the Oilers can improve and make sure that another disastrous season like this one doesn’t happen again.
“It was so disappointing. To come in with all those expectations and not even be in the playoffs it was obviously so disappointing. And to have the year go that way, and how disappointed the fans were, and just how it seemed that everything was going wrong… it was a long year, it was a difficult year, but I think everyone learned something. I mean, we can learn from it and grow and make sure that it never happens again.”
I hope you’re right, my friend. I hope you’re right. It would help if the power play could score every now and then, amirite?
“We definitely have to figure that out. You look at the teams that are right there at the end and their special teams are so good. Winnipeg, Nashville… these teams are that are good on the power play and good on the penalty kill… it’s so important. We’ve gotta figure it out.”
So wise you are, Connor. So very wise indeed.
On setting goals for himself…
I bet when Connor McDavid was a little kid he had some kind of book with his hockey-related goals written down in it. I bet he tracked those goals and would self-evaluate based on them. I mean, I have no proof of that happening but I assume it did because you don’t turn into a hockey robot without having a clear vision of your end game. Right? Right.
“You try not to target numbers — It doesn’t really matter about numbers. I know it’s a big deal in the media and in the fanbase, but the numbers don’t really matter if you’re playing well.”
I mean, that’s easy for you to say. You’re the best player in the league so when you’re playing well the points just seem to follow. What about for everyone else?
“If you’re playing the right way, if you’re responsible defensively, and if you can contribute obviously it’s great — that’s what I’m paid to do. I have to do that. (But) there a lot more ways to contribute to a game than putting up points.”
Alright, I guess I’ll accept that answer. Not everyone can put up points at the same McPace you do so I understand why you’re talking about playing a complete game. It’s kinda like how we can’t all be doctors but we can all do our part in preventing ourselves from getting sick by washing our hands. I get it.
But what about scoring 50 goals in a season? Do you ever think about that? I mean, I know you just said that numbers don’t matter but I can’t help but think that the big 5-0 has crossed your mind.
“I mean you look at all the great players that have played, they all find ways to score 50. If you want to be considered in that category, you have to find a way to do that one year. Obviously, I’d like to do it but if it never happens it, and I’m not going to say it doesn’t matter, but it is what it is.”
Who is this kid? The guy is 21-years-old and already speaks like he’s lived a full life that’s given him all kinds of perspective. What’s going on here? I came here for a McInterview and what I ended up getting was a lesson about how to handle life itself. Where did he learn to be like this anyway? From other players? I bet Connor watches everyone to see how they handle certain situations, right?
“I honestly think that everyone around the league watches (other players). Everyone watches players and is always trying to learn, especially from the great players. You’re always watching Sid and the things he does, and Kane, and Kucherov… I mean, these guys that find different ways to score and all of them are so good in so many different areas that you try to pick up on a few different things. You’d be stupid not to. It’s free learning, honestly.”
FREE LEARNING! I’m pretty sure I say that often in the preamble for the Mailbag. Does that mean Connor is reading the Mailbag? Dare to dream, Baggo, dare to dream.