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Photo Credit: Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

All-In

It’s obvious to anybody who has paid even casual attention to the Edmonton Oilers these past four seasons that Connor McDavid is a special player. This much we already know.

As has come to be expected, the 22-year-old Oilers’ captain keeps finding new ways to prove it, like his hell-bent charge to the net in a meaningless game against the Calgary Flames at the Scotiabank Saddledome Saturday night. And with the matter-of-fact comments he made Sunday about the play that saw him slam into the goalpost left knee-first, stay down, then limp to the dressing room.

It’s a play that had Oilers fans rightfully crapping their pants as McDavid was hauled down by Mark Giordano four minutes into the second period of what would be a 3-1 win in Edmonton’s season finale. While X-rays taken in Calgary showed no broken bones, McDavid isn’t in the clear yet – the team is awaiting the results of an MRI on a knee that was heavily braced as he faced reporters at Rogers Place this morning.

You’d think in a game without playoff implications, McDavid, already in the books with a career-high 116 points, might ease up just a little. I mean, it’s not like he hasn’t done enough, taking turns with Leon Draisaitl carrying the team on his shoulders this season. Well, think again. For better or worse, depending on the result of that MRI, that’s just not how McDavid is put together.

WORTH EVERY DIME

Mar 20, 2018; Raleigh, NC, USA; Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid (97) skates with the puck against Carolina Hurricanes defensemen Jaccob Slavin (74) during the third period at PNC Arena. The Edmonton Oilers defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 7-3. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

When Mark Spector of Sportsnet asked McDavid about his daring dash to the net before Giordano tripped him up – and if that’s an aspect of his game that might be throttled back a hair in Game 82 with the Oilers closing out another disappointing season – we got an insight into the competitive fire that burns in his gut and what makes him tick.

“They pay me $100 million to play my game, and part of my game is beating guys wide and going to the net,” McDavid said straight-faced. “I’ll have to give my money back if I stop doing that. I’m not doing that, so…” McDavid’s full media availability is here.

The other part of McDavid’s availability that stuck with me was when he re-visited the frustration he voiced after a 3-1 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights on the night the Oilers were officially eliminated from playoff contention. Some Toronto-area wags, as they seem prone to do, speculated again that McDavid’s frustration translated to him wanting out of Edmonton.

“This year is frustrating,” he said. “A lot has already been made about what I said in Vegas, but I’d be a complete loser if I wasn’t frustrated. You know, it’s frustrating personally. It’s frustrating as a group. You want to be in the playoffs. You want to be competing late in the season, but that’s not where we’re at, so we’ve got some stuff to figure out, like I said.

“We’re going to get it right. I know Bob (Nicholson) is on a mission to right the ship here and I’m confident he will. I want to be here. If I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t have signed an eight-year deal. I love the guys and the city. There’s obviously going to be changes both on and off the ice. That’s just the facts of it. I’m here to be part of the solution. That’s that.”

THE WAY I SEE IT

Call me crazy, but I’m willing to take McDavid at his word on that one even if I’m not so sure about Nicholson, who will meet with the media Monday. I don’t know how many more kicks at the can that Nicholson and whoever he brings in to replace Peter Chiarelli and clean up hockey ops are going to get, but I wouldn’t press it. For now, though, McDavid is all-in.

That should provide Oilers’ fans with some small measure of solace as they spend yet another off-season wondering what went wrong and who is going to fix things. I’d hope as well that what McDavid said today might stick a sock in it for those Hogtown-area gasbags who can’t believe he actually wants to stay here and win here, but I doubt they’ll shut it.

For now, fingers crossed on that knee and the vision and due diligence Nicholson spells out for the masses on Monday.

Previously by Robin Brownlee

  • Ratt McNuge

    Of course McDavid is all in. He signed a contract to play hockey for Edmonton, and if the team does eventually find success, it will be all the more sweeter for him. He’s all class. So lucky to have him.

    • OilerForLife

      Good for that, we all new that but it’s good to hear that from his own mouth. Now I’m just going to ignore fans from other teams when they spout that nonsense. Tired of talking about it.

      The injury still has me concerned until we hear from the MRI and the prognosis for surgery and the time frame for hopefully a full recovery.

      Now we wait to see who the GM is and there is no room for error. Can anyone update me on when the season ticket prices are released. Very anxious on how that will work out as well.

  • Oscar

    Oil fans needed some good news … after McD taking such a hit last night … this hapless team certainly does need to get this right or he will be gone … it’s that important …

  • Derian Hatcher

    I really hope on Monday that BN puts away his “schtick” of BS answers, nervous smile, and dancing around questions. It would be nice if, for a change, he was simply honest and transparent with the fans and stopped treating us like we are dumb. Everyone could see what was happening and what needs to happen way before those in suits saw anything. Oiler fans are not stupid. We get it – often long before others. The members of the media are also not stupid. It would be nice if their questions were answered directly and honestly, without the tap dance routine. Is that asking too much?

    • AlexTheOilersFanSince2006

      He won’t. They never are. Only other organizations have the luxury of being honest with fans. Ours are too stubborn and stuck up to admit failure

      • Oscar

        I can’t wait for Nicholson’s announcement …

        “We have searched high & we have searched low for a new G.M. in a more indepth manner than the forensic audit I initially performed on the Oilers when I arrived here. And low & behold, the very best candidate was right under my very nose … it’s my distinct pleasure to introduce you to the new G.M. of the Oilers, Mr. Keith Gretzky”

        Wait for it …

  • Heschultzhescores

    Why go looking for better guys to play with. He already has the only other 50 goal player in the league on his team…and OV is on the decline. We have two if the premium pieces in the NHL today. Now let’s add a few to complete the puzzle. Starting with a GM who has a vision and is allowed to see it through without the proven failure guys poking their noses in.

      • OilerForLife

        Persson is coming over on a one way contract for 1M. Jones will get a crack at making the lineup. Maybe we may have to trade a D man to fill a hole up front, so we need money to sign Nurse to an extension. Not sure on goaltending, maybe Shane Starrett is ready for backup. Because of the contract Koskinen will be our starter.

  • bcoil

    The Nuge pretty much said the same thing about his frustration level and that he is getting tired of this gong show after 8 yes 8 years and he wants it fixed.He was clear that he is tired of playing with different people every second shift .I hope he and Dri and McDavid all make it VERY VERY clear to Bob and whom ever else is in that exit interview that they HAVE HAD IT ..

    • Goaltender Interference

      Then with our current management we’re screwed. Sorry to be negative but it’s the truth.

      Nicholson shouldn’t be getting any more kicks at the can at all. He and the rest of the tired old luggage that the Oilers are saddled with lugging around upstairs should be serving up their resignations. Anything less and we can just settle in for more of the same.

    • OilerForLife

      Great, after this I’d rather he not play in that tournament. Watched to many Oilers play there over the years and I used to view it as a consolation prize, but now I’ll just wait until the next season.

  • Rick Stroppel

    Thank GOODNESS looks like Connor McDavid is going to be OK. From what I saw, he took the impact flush on the leg with no twisting or torqueing (speaking as a guy who tore up his knee three times when I was a kid, also I happen to know a couple of orthopedic surgeons). So maybe he got a bone bruise…or even a hairline fracture…but that beats the heck out of ligament damage.

    Now maybe somebody can explain to me why McDavid and Draisaitl were playing 24 minutes a night in the last month of the season? I have been complaining about this for weeks. “That’s their only chance of winning” people kept saying to me. So what? They missed the playoffs by 11 points. They finished second last in the Western Conference. “They’re still mathematically alive” they kept saying. Yes they were…if they won 10 straight games…and about 5 (not one or 2) teams in front of them all lost 9 of ten games. I said it before, I’ll say it again, playing McDavid and Draisaitl as much as they did left them tired, sick (in the case of McDavid), pissed off and worn out. It’s one of the reasons I hope they don’t bring Hitchcock back to coach next year. He doesn’t see the big picture as much as he should.

    Last I checked, McDavid was #1 in the NHL for ice time per games for forwards, Draisaitl was #2. Six of the top 8 forwards for ice time per game were on NON-PLAYOFF teams. It’s a symptom of a thin, poorly constructed team.

  • Rick Stroppel

    And furthermore…please DO NOT let McDavid play in the IIHF championships this year. I don’t care if he’s fully recovered physically, he needs to re-charge in other ways. The IIHF championship format this year is weird. Sixteen teams total, 8 in each pool. In the first round, Canada plays Slovakia, France and (I am not making this up) Great Britain. What does McDavid gain from playing those games? Germany is also in the World Championships, but I believe they should be discouraging Draisaitl from participating for the same reason. The last thing he needs is playing 22 or 23 minutes a game on a thin Germany team.

  • CMG30

    I don’t doubt that McDavid wants to win here. I also scoff at the folks who keep predicting he’s going to leave. That conversation will only occur if the Oil can’t make any headway for another few years.

    That being said, the Oilers have an extremely tight window to get it right here. It starts with a GM who knows what he’s doing. He’s also going to have to have the mental makeup that allows him to ignore all the barnacles that have attached themselves to the front office and will not be removed until the owner decides that a successful franchise is worth more than hanging out with his buddies in the city’s most expensive clubhouse.

    A tall order I know. Hopefully they put McDavid on the selection committee. He knows how he likes to play and the new GM will have to build a team around him anyway…

  • Spydyr

    I am scared $hitless about his knee. He said he thought his leg was in two pieces then the x-rays show no breaks. What does that leave? Tendon and ligament damage.

    I have a bad feeling about this.

    Please let me be wrong.

  • RJ

    He’s a gem.

    On the injury, he’s going to play his game, and on the Gio side, I wouldn’t expect him to play soft because the game was meaningless. Their next game will be in the playoffs, so they’re getting ready. I don’t put this in the same category as Manning deliberately trying to injure McDavid.

    On next season, unless the Oilers get Sam Pollock in his prime to come to Edmonton, they’re going to struggle to upgrade with all of the bad contracts.

  • Natejax97

    So the building blocks are in place in the minors and junior hockey ranks…and now we have some contracts that need to be moved to free up cap space and roster spots for these young guys to get on the team. The way I see it is we may need to package draft picks outside the first round, as well as some players to move money and free up said spots.

    Free agency is maybe a way to get a guy, but the problem is anyone worth signing will be overpaid and a long term. I wouldn’t do it, I would grow organically and know that we have 1 or 2 more rough years but then we will be an annual contender. I dont think the fan base, owner or management team has the patience…guess we will see

  • Rink Rat

    Talk is talk, my attitude is believe it when you see it. As Conner said I wouldn’t have signed the contract if I didn’t want to be here, so let’s chill out and hope we get a GM that has a clue and rebuilds this team the right way.

  • Hemmercules

    I never thought Connor would want out at this point but I still don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility down the road. This summer is crucial and will decide the fate of mcdavid and the oilers. If they flounder this again mcd will change his tune in a couple years I would think. Hope that leg is ok. At least he has 6 months off to repair it I guess.

  • Hockey Forever

    “I still don’t think it’s out of the realm of possibility down the road.”

    At the most, two more seasons, if there isn’t huge improvement. He’ll want out.

    I don’t blame him.