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Off the Top of My Head: Jay Woodcroft on the Dynamic Duo, QMJHL bans fighting, and more

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Photo credit:Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports
Robin Brownlee
1 month ago
The juxtaposition of Edmonton Oilers’ coach Jay Woodcroft talking to the NHL Network this week about what makes Connor McDavid such a special player and Twitter footage of McDavid engaged in an on-ice workout at the Power Edge Pro Camp in Toronto was perfect.
Woodcroft was talking about McDavid and teammate Leon Draisaitl in a discussion about the top centres in the NHL when he was asked what he finds most impressive about the three-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner and five-time scoring champion on the heels of his career-best 153-point season.
“As you said he’s all world in so many categories,” Woodcroft said via a telephone interview Monday. “For me what I’m privileged to see but most people do not get to see is the work ethic, the work that gets put in behind the scenes.
“I think everyone always gravitates toward the highlight reel play but I’m fortunate to bear witness to the amount of work he puts in on a daily basis not only is it amazing but it’s truly inspiring.”
That bit was followed Thursday my video of McDavid blazing through skating and puck-handling drills at the PEP camp, started by Joe Quinn 15 years ago and boasting a list of more than 100 NHL clients including McDavid, John Tavares, Dylan Larkin and Taylor Hall. McDavid has been a PEP client for a decade. Connor Bedard is at this camp as well. Pardon the pun, but there’s a lot of leading-edge training happening here.
When you combine equal parts elite talent and work ethic, you get what fans in Edmonton have been seeing from McDavid since the team drafted him in 2015. It’s no coincidence No. 97 is the best player on the planet. He works at it.

QMJHL FIGHTING BAN OFFICIAL

Talk about a fighting ban in the QMJHL has been out there since last spring, now it’s official. The league announced this week that fighting will be banned for the 2023-24 season – thus igniting the obligatory debate between old-schoolers who insist the move will ruin the game and those who believe it’s long overdue.
As part of its new safety regulations for the upcoming season, rules regarding fighting include the following:
  • As soon as a fight occurs, those engaged must be systematically ejected from the game.
  • Any player found to have instigated the fight will also receive an automatic one-game suspension.
  • The person declared to be the aggressor during the fight will receive a minimum of two automatic games of suspension.
  • In addition to the game misconduct, an automatic game suspension is imposed starting with the player’s 2nd fight of the season. This suspension is in addition to the sanctions described in the preceding paragraphs.
This decision leaves CHL teams with different regulations for handling fighting. The OHL has a three-fight rule. After three fights in a season, players are suspended two games for each subsequent fight. As of the 2021-22 campaign, the WHL began assessing a misconduct to players who remove their helmet or an opponent’s helmet during a fight.
My view on the place of fighting in hockey has changed drastically over the years for a number of reasons. Where are you on this?

THE OTHER CONNOR

Photo: Eerie Otters
If free agent Connor Brown turns out to be anything close to as good a signing as former Toronto Maple Leafs’ teammate Zach Hyman has been since his arrival in Edmonton two seasons ago, he’ll be an absolute bargain.
While Brown, 29, spent two seasons playing in the OHL with McDavid in Erie, he and Hyman were teammates in Hogtown for four seasons. Hyman now Brown well and has nothing but good things to say about the two-time 20-goal scorer.
“I’m excited for Brownie, obviously,” Hyman said. “We played together in Toronto, and we played well together. He’s just such an elite worker. We’re kind of similar in that regard. We were always kind of compared to each other when were in Toronto as these two worker bees and great to have him in Edmonton and get him back there and it’s great.”
Kind of similar to Hyman? Works for me.

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