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Photo Credit: James Carey Lauder-USA TODAY Sports

At Random: Get In or Get Out

The most impressive thing about Connor McDavid at the NHL all-star game wasn’t that he won the fastest skater competition for the third straight time. It’s how he handled all the questions thrown at him about his future with the Edmonton Oilers, even though he was obviously less than thrilled about the grilling he got.

Given the firing of Peter Chiarelli as Oilers’ GM on the eve of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl jetting into San Jose, I understand why media types pursued the angle about his happiness or lack of same in Edmonton – many fans didn’t appreciate it – and why they pressed him. I thought he handled it just about as well as anybody possibly could, and in no uncertain terms.

McDavid’s hot-seat session came framed by an amusing bit of click-bait by Toronto Star columnist Bruce Arthur in which he opined: “Connor McDavid doesn’t deserve this. He shouldn’t be trapped in hockey hell . . .” Arthur concluded: “Nobody can break Connor McDavid out except Connor McDavid, and he has never shown the slightest inclination . . .” For full context, the item is here.

There’s no debating the Oilers were mostly a mess on Chiarelli’s watch since McDavid arrived and that this edition of the team has plenty of work to do to turn that around between now and the end of the season and beyond. McDavid, however, didn’t once waiver when pressed about his status when the microphones and notepads converged in San Jose. I didn’t expect he would.

TELLING IT STRAIGHT

Mar 20, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) looks on from the players bench against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 7-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

“What I look forward to coming out of the break is trying our best to prove everyone wrong,” McDavid said. “We have an opportunity here where. Everyone seems pretty down us. There’s a sense of negativity from the media and everyone around the team.

“We get to prove everyone wrong. We get to decide how we’re going to finish the second half. You have to believe. You have to believe we’re going to turn it around it around. If you don’t, you don’t have to be around here.” You can watch and read the full interview here.

While there can’t be any doubt McDavid isn’t happy with the way things have gone for the majority of his time in Edmonton, it’s a quantum leap at this point to suggest that equals a desire to ply his trade elsewhere, despite a chorus of eastern wags suggesting that could or should be the case. I’d suggest that if or when McDavid feels the need to voice any concerns, he’ll do so in the dressing room. Or, if need be, in the presence of owner Daryl Katz or Bob Nicholson before he goes public.

McDavid’s message to this point is about as straightforward as it gets – get with the program and do what you can to turn things around or get out. That’s leadership, and that’s exactly what I expect we’ll see from McDavid over the next 32 games in trying to drag a team this flawed into the playoffs. That’s more than enough to put on the shoulders of No. 97 with the mess Chiarelli has left this team in.

WHILE I’M AT IT

  • The Oilers will get back into action Saturday in Philadelphia and we’ll know later this week whether Oscar Klefbom will be ready to go after missing 19 games with a broken finger and having surgery to repair the damage. While Klefbom has been working out and skating, that’s not the same as playing. To state the obvious, any playoff push by the Oilers depends directly on how quickly Klefbom gets up to speed.
  • I think the Oilers need a minimum of 40 points from their final 32 games to have a legitimate shot at the playoffs. Most years, of course, it takes 90-plus, but with Dallas and Colorado just three points up in the wildcard, neither is out of reach points-wise. The bigger concern is all the traffic in front of the Oilers.
  • Late to it, but a tip of the cap to Kendall Coyne-Schofield, who finished seventh in a field of eight in the fastest skater competition at the all-star game in 14.346, a heartbeat behind McDavid at 13.378. That was fun. Count me among those who’d like to see more of the top women’s players at the all-star game.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • slats-west

    I think these East Coast Hacks still cannot get over McDavid did not get drafted by the Leafs. Get over it.

    @ Robin ….Or perhaps when the Leafs are one and done as they get bounced by the Bolts in Round 1 you should write an article on how Matthews longs for playing with his home town Desert Dogs, and Tavares regrets leaving Long Island!

  • SlovakOiler

    “Get in or get out.” Sure.
    But it’s not the players fault that they have to play above their weight class day in day out. Hell, I would try like hell if Chia payed me for playing on the Oilers, but the results would be… well… like they are right now.
    The team needs to ice 23 players. It’s not their fault we ice like 5 legit NHLers…
    I’m sure everything will be fine after forensic audit #2 and change of the water fountains in the arena…

      • Gravis82

        McDaivid, Draisaitl, Nuge, Klefbom, Larson, Nurse. Brownlee, that is 6. My definition of legit NHLer is we are 100% certain that any team in the NHL would have them on their roster for this season and next season at a cap hit proportional to their production and given a roster spot was available.

      • TruthHurts98

        He probably means 5 good NHL players which is minimizing it a bit. Connor, Leon, Nuge, Chiasson up front are the only ones producing anything of relevance. So four there. On defense Nurse, Larsson, Klefbom when healthy. So 7 players that could play on any team in the league. Russell, Benning and Khaira maybe. 10 at the most. The rest of the roster is.. well sad if you look at the stats and results after 50 games. Jones will be a beauty in time but isn’t quite ready. The other teams have a better shot of the playoffs since they have much deeper rosters. Koskinen’s numbers continue to plummet. Playoffs will still require at least 90 plus points. I would be happy to make a wager with you. I’ll bet on the Oilers missing the playoffs again even though I admire Connor’s drive and determination. He just doesn’t have the help he needs and the schedule gets tougher.

      • SlovakOiler

        Sure, it is a hyperbole, but my point stands. We have maybe 5F and 4D which other teams would consider in a legit trade not involving pics.
        Sure every team has assests which suck, but not in this range.
        The problem is we overvalue our players (what do you get for Brodz, Yamo, Pizza, Kass), and if you can honestly say “it’s not so bad, we have like 15 NHL” players, you are part of the problem imho and welcome to DOD 2.0 (or was it 3.0?).

    • Rob...

      I get what you’re saying, but if my boss kept swapping staff with other organizations making my job harder every single month I’m going to lose steam, motivation and my mind, especially if I was one of those ‘legit’ employees who could/should get things done.

  • Spydyr

    I am all for the best woman players participating in the skills competition but for the game itself they can participate when the play in the NHL and earn an all-star nod. Like every other player there.

      • Spydyr

        There may be obvious reasons but I’m seeing a lot of chatter online about letting them play in games. Even though I don’t agree with it I could see the NHL putting one woman player on each team. More for publicity than anything else.

          • cityofchampions

            I agree that letting women play in the games would be more of a circus than it already is (Hayley Wickenhieser, the woman’s Wayne Gretzky played 2nd or 3rd division in Sweden/Finland, and the woman’s Olympic team regularly gets beat by AAA midget teams), but they should be able to participate in the skills competition and have a 3 on 3 game between themselves…maybe after the semis and before the finals on the men’s side.

  • Dallas Eakins Hair

    Well it will be interesting to see how everyone on the team responds to Chia getting fired and McDavid saying players need to step up, now time to find out who is willing to do just that.

    Do the Players shae blame yes but so does the coaching staff, the defensive system they are playing is brutal and it hasnt improved and this isnt all on the player the system itself just is terrible, 2 on 2 into the Oilers end and the defence pair act like they are tied together with a rope with 5 feet of space btwn them with their stick stuck out… yeah that will scare the opposition same with the get the puck with you stick dont worry about the man and where he is while 4 guys are standing in front of the net, it’s just isnt working and it’s the same game in night after night.

    Hitch has to let this guys hit and push back a little , the Oilers are too easy to play against, way way too easy to play against and teams are taking advantage of it

  • VK63

    No point in McDavid talking to Bobby Nick. He is too busy with the “audit”. Out of curiosity, I wonder what the forensic audit ever turned up? I don’t recall any significant changes and have seen no external manifestations regarding organization behaviour; especially as applied to the fan base or sponsors. As far as the decision making process goes, I see scant evidence of anything having changed on that front either.

    A puzzling thing, given the implications and granularity inferred when using the word audit.
    Also of note, audits are nearly always performed by professionals from outside the insular ranks of the dumpster fire that generated the need for them.

    Deviance.
    Oilers style.

  • Oiler Al

    Somebody has to hide Hitch’s Kenblender. It amazes me he still hasn’t figured out whos ,who? on the team[or maybe he has].Put some line together and let them fly.Seems guys are lost out there, specially the PP and PK.Not sure Yawny and Viero are the gurus, everyone taught them to be.?

  • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

    I truly, 100% believe Connor’s “you need to leave comments” were referencing the media, not the players. The Edmonton media is one of, if not, FHE WORST in sports. They lack the balls to ask the tough questions to the management, yet have 0 issues bugging Connor about Chiarelli’s firing during All-Star weekend.

    • ed from edmonton

      Well to be fair someone did ask BN why anyone should believe that things will improve due to the PC firing given 13 years of failure (I paraphrase the actual wording). This in part prompted the “something in the water” quote. One statement of BN’s that makes we wonder about the seriousness of changing anything is that the new GM needs to fit wit the culture. Does he mean a culture of losing? A quick think guy could have/should have asked him about that. I would think BN might want some one to shake things up.

    • Gravis82

      Ok. He was asked directly about players who were not on board. The question, as posed, stated as fact that some players were not on board. McDavid did not offer that. It was offered in the question. Whether that is true is another story, McDavid was only just responding to the reporter who insinuated that some players WERE FOR SURE not on board and what McDavids thoughts were on that. His response was, well if they are not on board they should get out. That is a fair comment. But he did not offer unprompted that there WERE many players that he KNEW were not on board.

      You see the difference?

      This is fake news, a question generated to get clicks and a sweet headline.

      Who asked it. Was it spector? Wouldn’t be surprised.

  • Bobnett

    Not sure why everyone goes on and on about Connor asking to be traded. He signed a long term contract for big dollars. I am pretty sure his agent and family would have talked him into less term if that was in his mind. Besides a contract is a contract. I remember when Lindros made his power play, it caused the NHL no end of bad press. I am pretty sure Bettman would do everything in his power to keep Connor in Edmonton.

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      McDavid also signed his contract in the summer following the 16-17 season, where it seemed like things had finally turned around for the better. Could you imagine what his contract would be if he signed following the disastrous 17-18 season?

    • CityofWhat

      The media at the all-star game asking Connor if he would welcome a trade was simply stupid, Connor has honour which seems like some of the media guys are lacking. Connor will honour his contract and if he wins 2 cups in say last 3 years of the contract I 100% believe he will re-sign here. And that would put a knife into the hearts of those media guys that want Connor in a different jersey.

    • Beer_League_Ringer

      Antonio Davis just told the Pelicans to trade him… What a d-bag. Hockey is a team sport and Connor gets that HE can’t win a Stanley Cup alone and no one wants to play with a quitter. He, and 99% of all NHL players will never demand a trade.

    • You just got LITT up!

      Not to critize your post, but the agreement moves with McDavid. All Connor really did was lock in the amount he’ll be compensated ($100MM) over that term. Connor, if he wanted, could “allow” any owner in the league to pay him that compensation, because every team in the league would make space for him, if he requested a trade to that team.

      • Redbird62

        He did more than lock in the pay. He locked in that he could not play hockey for any other team other than the Oilers. McDavid could ask to be traded, but the Oilers do not an obligation to honor that request for the duration of the contract. For the first 4 seasons, the decision to trade or not trade McDavid is the Oilers only to make. In the last 4 years of the contract, even if the Oilers wanted to trade him, McDavid has an NMC, so he would have to waive it. He could have signed a 4 year deal, again with the Oilers having full control, but then walked as a UFA right after. Instead, he made the longest commitment allowed under the CBA.

  • Gary Chalmers

    Bruce Arthur is to journalism what Eric Eklund was to NHL trade rumors, they just throw something against the wall and hopes it sticks. He covers a team that has been rebuilding since 1967, and has the gall to throw shade at other cities. Connor McDavid has way to much class and integrity to demand a trade 1 year into a 8 year deal, so Mr. Arthur report on your own team, who undoubtedly will find away to flame out in the first round of the playoffs.

  • What McDavid is saying is exactly what you want to hear a captain say. I just wonder which players do not believe? Do they look at the guy next to him and say to themselves “Not with that guy”?

    They had a team meeting and then put in no effort against Detroit.

    Did they want Chiarelli fired because they each quietly blame him for having “Not with that guy” players around them?

    Are they getting tired of the line blending? If so, now take that concept and consider all the weird trades causing a restart of culture and difficulty to bond and create chemistry among themselves over a longer period of time. Trading Drake Caggiula is a good example of disrupting this.

    The better teams draft and develop players over a pile of years and they become part of the culture and family where, as Hitch said they do “not play with each other, but *for* each other”.

  • Ratt McNuge

    McDavid will not ask for a trade. He is an honorable guy and will play out his contract. No player is bigger than the game, and if McDavid wants out because the team isn’t winning, why would we want him on the team anyway? McDavid gives us a chance. We just have to find one of the shrewdest GMs out there to tweak the team.

      • Ratt McNuge

        Look at Ovie. His Caps spent years playing second fiddle to Crosby and the Pens, and when he finally did win it, it was with the team that drafted him. I never used to like him, but I have a lot of respect for Ovie for sticking with it in Washington.

        • Serious Gord

          Ovie was a big reason why the team underperformed in years past. And the caps were competitive in the third year of his nhl career and have remained so save one season.

          So far mcdavids team has had a much more discouraging trajectory.

          • Serious Gord

            Ovie was a far more selfish player in his early years – not unlike Yzerman and Brett hull. He changed his game and like those two players, was rewarded with a cup.

      • Serious Gord

        Orr knows what it’s like to be jerked around by an agent and an owner.

        I think it highly possible that three or more years of failure and he will ask for a trade on mcdavids behalf.

  • The Whispererer

    The reference to Orr being Connor’s agent made me curious about why Orr ended his career in Chicago instead of Boston. I had never heard the story before; as bad as Alan Eagleson’s reputation was, it’s hard to imagine that anything held a candle to his deception of Orr. At free agency, he got Bobby to accept a $3 million offer from Chicago while hiding a 5-year contract offer from the Bruins which included an 18.5% ownership interest. Read it in a June 27, 2017 Stan Fischler article at NHL.com/news/bobby-orr-deceived-in-free-agency-departure-to-chicago-blackhawks/c-290185946.

    • nijames

      They don’t have the players at all. Lucic is no longer a legit NHLer and Sekera is a none factor. Here is a team that is looking for Klefbom to save the year. Really on a good team he is at the very best a #3 d-man

  • Kelly Youngblood

    I guess the rumour of the Leafs sniffing around Larsson were maybe not factual but I didn’t like the return LA got on Muzzin so probably a good thing.

  • OILERSORDEATH

    I think someone needs to remind that douche bag Bruce Asshat about glass houses. Toronto is no paradise to play in either when they are losing. In fact I’d say they are the worst of all Canadian teams with Montreal being a close second.

    • IRONman

      Edmonton is Lucky to have McDavid and Leon signed long term deals. Both want to win both want to be Oilers. Expecting them to score lots goes with the 21 million a season they get paid.

  • KootenayDan

    Klefboms return could have a big impact for the stretch run and if Sekera returns even as a 5/6 d-man that takes Benning and Manning out of the equation. Better than what there is now the defense has been horrid almost as bad as secondary scoring.

  • nijames

    It is funny how PC is blamed for this whole mess. As Dustin Nielsen says they keep changing one guy but everyone else stays. With this much mismanagement the whole lot of old boys need to go and imagine a Gretzky as Interim GM. Amazing to see all those old Oilers still have their cushy jobs and Nicholson is useless in his role. They need to clean the entire house out so a new GM has half a chance of succeeding

  • madjam

    Nice to note Nicholson and management , as well as Draisitl and mainly Connor believe in team this year being capable of making playoffs still . Being as I am not attached to team in any way except as an Oiler fan , I think they may be all a bit dillusional regarding this years personnel .So lond as stars are satisfied the less chance they might request a trade elsewhere , which is good . I think we all sit in anticipation as to what the teams next moves might be beyond staying put and playing out the season . We need to make moves I feel , but doubt Gretzky will be active in the near future .

  • Bills Bills

    McDavid is in hockey hell. He doesn’t deserve this. Neither do the loyal fans of Edmonton.

    I wish I had an answer but I am beside myself in trying to view the team I love objectively.

    If McDavid or anyone else wanted out of the gong show that is the Edmonton Oilers, I wouldn’t blame them one little bit. After all, parts of me wish I wasn’t a fan.

  • TKB2677

    When it comes to the “audit” my guess is that several guys will be let go. I could see Mac T, Sutter, Howson and Green getting let go. All those guys are involved in the player personnel and pro scouting. I think we all agree that these haven’t been strong areas. They don’t seem to be identifying good pro players to go after in free agency, they don’t seem to be identifying who to trade for and what players to let go or even who to sign sign i.e college free agents or UFA’s. I would also suspect that some pro scouts will be let go.

    I also suspect that Lowe will be around which will piss people off. Even though it appears he has nothing to do with hockey anymore and hasn’t for years, there is a segment of Oilers fans who want him tarred and feathered for whatever reason.

    • nijames

      O K I am not a Calgary fan but to say 4 legit NHLers in Calgary is asinine. They have the second best record in the NHL and arguably the best defense in the league. Unfortunately for us Oiler fans the 5 is a pretty fair number, we have a lot of fringe NHLers after the top 5 but pretty slim pickings

    • Rufio Barcoli

      Who ever is in charge and responsible for this website should have no right to write and complain about how messed up the Oilers are.
      pot.kettle.black.