Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl opens up about being ‘misunderstood’

Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Aleena Aksenchuk
5 months ago
If you see N0.29 on the ice wearing the staple Edmonton Oilers orange and blue sweater, he’ll usually have an intense look and an even more intense style of play.
It’s led some in the market to question the German, and a now-famous spat with an Edmonton media member, who asked him, “Why are you so pissy?”
But, in a recent interview, Leon Draisaitl spoke about how some people may misperceive him.
“I think I’m a bit misunderstood,” Draisaitl told Sportsnet‘s Mark Spector.
“I wear my emotions on my sleeve. I’m an intense guy, and sometimes when things don’t go the way I like, I show that. Sometimes maybe a little bit too much. I spend a lot of time working on that part of my life – as a leader and as a player.”
Over the decade that Draisaitl has been in the Oilers organization and across nearly 700 games, the market, and the entire league have seen their fair share of intense Draisaitl moments. We’ve seen him lose his cool in post-game press conferences, we’ve seen his blood boil on the ice, we’ve witnessed Draisaitl be none other than, well, human.
Draisaitl continued to tell Spector that it primarily comes down to his body language as the reason people may misunderstand him.
“If people think that I’m not aware of my body language, then they’re certainly wrong,” Draisaitl said. “I’ve gotten better. I care a lot, and I guess I’m a bit of a perfectionist.”
However, Draisaitl’s directness is a different story. He’s not trying to boss around his teammates; he’s simply playing his role as an alternate captain for his team. 
“I’m obviously very direct in the way I deliver certain things. But it’s never personal,” he said. “Maybe early in my career, that was also a little bit misunderstood. Like, whatever I do, I do it with emotion. I wear it on my sleeve — but it’s never personal.”
Although to some, his words may get lost in translation, his teammates know his intentions, and what is said means no harm; he’s just trying to help better their team.
“He’s a straight shooter, and in today’s day and age people don’t always accept him the way (his words are intended),” Darnell Nurse told Spector. “When he sees things that we can work on and be better at, he’s expressing that. He’s not just holding it in, or saying, ‘Oh, we can be better.’ He’s expressing the ways that we can be better.”
Spector also mentioned how Draisaitl has accepted and acknowledges that he is often shadowed by his Oilers counterpart, McDavid, saying that it’s no surprise that players such as the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Auston Matthews or Colorado Avalanches’ Nathan MacKinnon are also often compared ahead of him, despite the fact he’s consistently finished ahead of both stars in points. For Draisaitl, it’s all a part of the game.
“Naturally, being behind Connor, you will always be the second guy that gets talked about. That’s just the way it is, and it’s always going to be that way. I have no problem with that,” Draisaitl said. “If you’re talking about Matthews and MacKinnon, are there nights where I’m better than them? Yes. 
“Are there nights where they’re better than me? Yes.”
Draisaitl has emotions, wears them on his sleeve, gets caught up in the semantics of it all, and makes mistakes, just as we all do. Although, there’s one thing that we can all truly relate to with Draisaitl. Like every Oilers fan out there, he also wants to see his team succeed, but he won’t go as far as saying ‘Cup or bust’ as he did last spring when the Oilers lost in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Out of emotions, that came out in the moment. You’ve got to be careful. This league is too hard, too competitive, to act as if we’re entitled to win,” he said. 
“Like, for sure we want to win. But there are 17 other teams that want to win and feel like they have a shot at it. You’ve got to be careful with how entitled you feel as to, ‘We have to win.”
As the Oilers continue through their season, Draisaitl is becoming a hot topic as he rolls into the final year of his eight-year, $68,000,000 deal after July 1st.

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