All signs point to Edmonton Oilers’ Connor McDavid returning from injury for Heritage Classic
Photo credit:Walter Tychnowicz-USA TODAY Sports
By Zach Laing29 days ago
The Edmonton Oilers took to the ice at Commonwealth Stadium late Saturday afternoon, and the talk of the town was whether or not Connor McDavid would suit up for the big game.
The good news? McDavid hit the ice with teammates donning a white practice jersey, the same as other top-six forwards. He had his standard spot on their top line alongside the likes of Leon Draisaitl and a promoted Warren Foegele.
After practice, McDavid said his injury was feeling good.
“I’m making a lot of progress. It felt really good today at practice,” he chipperly said Saturday evening. “A lot of good signs.
“Our training staff here in Edmonton is amazing. We’re very lucky here in Edmonton to have such a great staff. They’ve been working hard at it all week, and I feel like it’s in a really good place.”
Reading between the lines, the words of McDavid, head coach Jay Woodcroft and others, all pointing towards him playing Sunday night.
What a night that would be. With Commonwealth Stadium nearly sold out, roughly 60,000 fans would surely love to be able to watch 97 lace up the skates.
The initial word from the club on McDavid’s injury, announced a week ago Sunday, was that he was expected to miss one-to-two weeks with the ailment. A return tomorrow would put him at the one-week mark on the dot.
“I hate missing games,” McDavid said. “Whether or not this game was played indoors or outdoors, it would be something I was pushing for.
“Sitting out, too, is not something that is fun. As athletes, your availability to the team and being able to play day-in and day-out is something that is very important. It’s your job, and something I take very seriously. Being available is important to me.”
Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft sounded eager when asked about his captain’s potential availability.
“I thought it was a good sign that he practiced in a full pre-game skate today,” he said. “He looked pretty good to me.”
The decision for McDavid to return or not doesn’t come from one single person, Woodcroft added.
“It’s in conjunction with a few things,” he said. “It’s the player in conjunction with our team doctor, our team training staff and then ultimately, the organization as a whole.
“I thought today was a good day, a good step and we’ll see how he is when he wakes up in the morning.”
McDavid’s teammates know how big of a boost his return to the lineup would be for them. After all, this is a five-time Art Ross Trophy winner who lit the hockey world on fire last season with a 64-goal, 153-point season — one of the best the NHL has seen in the previous two decades.
“He’s the best player in the world, and he has been for I don’t know how many years,” Leon Draisaitl said. “He’s going to give us something that you can’t replace.
“If he’s in, we’re obviously very excited.”
Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at email@example.com.
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