The Quotes: Oilers’ McDavid, Draisaitl, Kane, Hyman, McLeod, Keith, Bouchard, and Smith speak to media

Photo credit:twitter.com/edmontonoilers
Zach Laing
2 years ago
Do you want over 5000 words transcribed from the entire post-season press conferences of Edmonton Oilers players Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman, Ryan Mcleod, Duncan Keith, Evan Bouchard, and Mike Smith?
If your answer is yes, then it’s your lucky day!
All the above players met with the media at Rogers Place on Tuesday where they were subject to a volley of questions surrounding this season, the growth, the hardships, and what’s next, and I transcribed all 5000+ words of them.
General Manager Ken Holland and head coach Jay Woodcroft spoke to media today, so look for their transcriptions to come tomorrow.

Zach Hyman

Reflecting on the season: “Obviously disappointed. Only one team leaves happy. We made it to the final four. I think given the rollercoaster of a season it was a little unorthodox. We added Kaner mid-way through the year, coaching change and we were able to stick together. I think one thing about this group is it didn’t quit. We believed in each other and we went on a great run and faced probably the best team in the league.”
On the addition of Kane: “He revamped the top six. He was able to play with anybody there and have success and score big goals. He leads the playoffs in scoring to date right now, and is just a huge part of our team. Just a massive addition.
On the feeling in the city on the playoff run: “It’s awesome. Loudest rink I’ve played in for sure, and just an incredible fanbase that’s so supportive. People here are so nice. They’re just polite and so happy to have you on their team and to be fans. It’s awesome and amazing to play in front of fans like that.
On how valuable the playoff experience is for the Oilers: “Yeah, it’s valuable. It’s only an impact if you progress on it, you build on it, you take a step forward, right? Experience for everybody, I think it was a lot of our first times in the Western Conference FInals. We got a really good core and a lot of really, really good young players. To experience that tye of run in a playoff environment, scoring big goals, contributing — I think that’s invaluable. Those are the guys that are going to take a step over the summer and make our team better.”
On how important it was to see the Oilers core players bring it in the playoffs: “Your big guys have to do well in order to have success in the playoffs. That’s key and I touched on it before, I think our ability to face adversity and push through that — we were on the brink against LA and if that series goes the other way, we’re having a different conversation about the season. I think our self-belief and our ability to push back was something we can build off of and hopefully carry into next year.”
On how he feels today about his decision to sign with the Oilers last off-season:”I thought I was going to be a good fit when I decided to come here, but it’s been everything and more. Just honestly one of the best decisions I made in my life was to come here and play with these guys. Everybody’s been so welcoming in the city. We talked about the fans a little bit and the players, and making not just me feel comfortable but my family feel comfortable. Just really happy to be here for a long time.
On if he feels the Oilers have the core to take the next step: “I think we do. The unique thing about hockey is the margins are so thin. The bounces in games separate things from inches. In game three we hit the post and they come down and score, right? I think if you want a chance to win you have to put yourself in a position to have a chance every year. I think those teams, Tampa, Colorado, they’ve continually put themselves in good positions. Whether they get home ice early, Colorado won the President’s Trophy last year, came second in the league this year. They’ve learned how hard it is to win and how you can’t take anything for granted. You can’t give a team a chance. You have to put ‘em down. I think if we would’ve won last game, we’d have the momentum, we’d have a chance. They battled back in that game and a win put us out. I think you can take things from that, you can take things from Tampa, but again you have to put yourself and do it over and over again. You can’t be satisfied with making the final four. You have to be just as hungry and go above and beyond to give yourself a chance every year.”
On how close he was to having his knee hurt on the MacKinnon collision: “It wasn’t my knee. It was y quad. It was a charley horse. It was lucky. I saw the replay after, it looked worse than it was. I’m all good.”
On his perception of how far from success the Oilers are: “It’s a tough question until you win. If you win, then people are going to say this run was the reason that they got close. If you don’t win then it’s all for not, so I think time will tell. But I think playing this far for a lot of us is the furthest we’ve gone, and getting a taste of the final four and the Western Conference Final and whatnot I think can only help. As I said, and I’m sure Connor said last night, we’re not satisfied with the final four and I’m sure that’s why he said it’s a small step forward. It’s only a step forward if we progress on it and build on it next year to give ourselves another chance at it.”

Evander Kane

On the season: “I think we obviously came a long way from where we were back in January. I think it was a great opportunity for our group to understand what it takes to get this far and what it takes to get to a cup final. You look at the series, it was a sweep but i think three of those games we had a chance to win those games as they did. That’s unfortunate that we’re not playing tomorrow night, but I think it’s only going to drive this group to be hungrier moving forward.”
On how he thought it went with the Oilers: “I thought it went really well. Probably better than I even expected, to be honest. Nothing but good things to say about that.”
On re-signing vs. looking around: “There’s so many different variables guys. We just finished the season yesterday. There’s lots to sort through, figure out before I start thinking about that.”
On what goes into the decision-making process for his next move: “I’ll go back to when I was in a similar but very different position a few months ago where I ahd the opportunity to pick where I wanted to go. Edmonton was interested in me and I was interested in them. The way I looked at it was you have two of the best players in the world, a team that wants to win now and is primed to win now. I think me joining was a great opportunity to win. I’m happy to say that we had some success doing that. I think moving forward, obviously there’s a lot of things that factor into a decision. I’ve been very happy with my time here, the fans have been phenomenal, the fans in the city have been phenomenal. This has got to be the best organization I’ve played for. I have no complaints and just like everyone else is looking forward to seeing what happens.”
On if talk of re-signing will be part of his exit interview: “I let my agent Dan Milstein handle all those talks, but I’m sure me and Kenny will talk a little about it, yeah.”

Leon Draisaitl

On Evander Kane: “First of all, I think we’re very happy with how he came to our team, what he brought to our team. Obviously on the ice, but off the ice, he was amazing. He was a great, great team guy. Put the team first. Helped our team in a big, big way. I think we’d love to have him back. I can’t say more than that, it’s not in my hands from now on. He’s helped our team big time.”
On his injury: “I’m sure everyone, or a lot of people saw the video, saw the clip, what happened. I‘m sure you can figure out what type of injury it was by watching the clip.”
On how he sees the season as a whole, how close and how far away they are: “We did take a step this season, but we also took a step in 2017 and we missed the playoffs the next season. That shows you how hard it is in this league to do it consistently year after year. It’s a hard league and the playoffs are even harder and tougher. We have to make sure that we come in next season and learn from what we’ve accomplished this season, but come back next year and be hungry for more. We want to take that next step and get to the finals and eventually, we want to win a Stanley Cup. I think we took a step but there is definitely more.”
On if the Oilers need to play with hard skill ala Evander Kane, if it’s a crucial element moving forward: “Absolutely. I think guys like that are rare. What did he score, 13 goals in the playoffs by playing hard but by doing it the right way. Those guys are hard to comeby, right? Those are the guys you can go on runs with and the type of guys you’re going to win with eventually. He was great, he was amazing off the ice. He was a great teammate. Obviously on the ice, he had a great year. We’ll see what happens.”
On the team aging, working to avoid a repeat of 2018: “Like you said, we’re grown up, right? We have grown up from that point. We were young. Maybe at the time we thought that getting there to game seven in the second round is an automatic every season. That’s not hte case, clearly. We learned that the hard way. We learned from that the hard way and now guys like Bouchy, Clouder, they’re going to know what it takes to get back into the playoffs next season. You learn from it, sometimes it’s the hard way like i said. We did have to learn it the hard way, but we’re going to be prepared next season for it to be hard and we’re goig to be ready for it.”
On the Oilers showing their toughness in the playoffs: “I think we showed this season that there is a lot of heart in our group, a lot of no-quit mentalities. I think even in that regard there is still another step that we can take and a lot of things we can learn still and be better at when we do get to that point. I’m really proud of our team and the way we handled things this season. At times it wasn’t easy or perfect, but I thought we battled all season and stuck together. At the end of the day, that’s most important. We knew that we had it in the group. I’m proud of the guys and it was a good step, but we’re looking to take the next one.”
On the Oilers’ core being under contract, if the window is open to do some damage: “Yeah, of course. We have guys under contract that have been here for a long time that have been through everything we’ve been for. We’re ready to win. We watn to win. We have young guys like Bouch, Clouder, Holly that are pushing for spots that are ready to have an impact, that did have an impact. That’s what’s going to make us a really good hockey team, guys coming up and pushing for lineup spots. We’re ready to win. We want to win. We want to do the right hings to win. It’s important to have a good summer for everyone and get back into it next season.”

Evan Bouchard

On the experience he gained this year: “Experience is great for me. To be part of a run like this is special and it shows you what it takes to get to this level. But it shows you that you got to put more into it to get to the final and to win it. This experience is great for me and everyone else.”
On if he and the other young guys are better for the playof run: “I think so yeah. All the experience you can get is great experience. I think that’s what you’re going to need down the road.”
On what he learned most from Duncan Keith: “Well, it’s a little different when you get someone like Duncs who has been through it all. He knows what he’s doing and the style of play he wants to play. The more you listen and the more you can take in, the better it’s going to make you and the pairing. The better the pairing does, it helps the team. The more you listen to him and pick his brain is going to help you out.”

Connor McDavid

On after a night’s sleep, how close he feels the Oilers are: “I haven’t got much sleep, but I haven’t really thought about it. I wish I could give you more of an answer to that question, but obviously, it’s still really fresh and not a lot of time has gone by. Obviously it was a step in the right direction, I definitely, firmly believe that, but that’s all it was.”
On lessons learned from the playoffs: “Those lessons only really matter if you put yourself back in those situations, so obviously that’s our focus — to put ourselves back in that position and use the lessons that we learned throughout our little run here and put those two to work next year.”
On the guts it took from his Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse playing through injury: “Those two guys especially, it was cool to see and cool to watch them go through that. It’s obviously not easy, but as their teammate it was inspiring to see them go out there and perform the way they did being well less than 100 percent and perform the way they did it was really cool to see. In the playoffs, it takes those sorts of efforts. Those two guys in particular, and a lot of guys in our lineup, to see how they battled through those things was cool to watch.”
On Evander Kane, if that’s the kind of player that will help the Oilers win: “Kaner came in and did everything that was asked about him, that’s for sure. Like you said, it’s not my place, I don’t sign the contracts and stuff like that, but Kaner, like I said, came in and played great. He did everything asked of him and then some. You saw how he performed in the playoffs, those are the type of guys you need.”

Duncan Keith

On if he saw similarities with the 09-10 Blackhawks team who were on the cusp of breaking through: “We had a season early on where we went to the Conference Finals and we lost in I think five games. There’s lots of things you can compare. At the end of the day, I think there was a lot of growth this year with the team as a team and as inidivduals. I think that sets it up for a good season next year. Just like Connor said, we gained a lot of experience here in the playoffs but all throughout the season really. You try to take that into next season and execute in the moment.”
On joining the Oilers: “I thought it was better than I ever could’ve imagined really. There were a lot of firsts for myself — going to a new team, getting traded and living in a new city, a different team, lots of different things — at the end of the day, a lot of great memories from this past season getting to play with the best player in the world Connor right here and sitting up next to him. Just to see how he goes about his business and the same with Leon as well, just to be around that makes you a better player. I think as players, you’re in the NHL and want to get keep getting better, so I think as a team we pushed one another and that’s what kind of makes the year special. It’s not the way we wanted it to end, but as I said earlier, there was a lot of growth.”
On the Oilers’ core working through similar experiences to Chicago’s core years ago: “Absolutely there’s a lot of those same characteristics. I don’t think you get as good as these guys are without having heart and determination. Connor showed that the whole season, and so did Leon and all the top guys. We won the first 10 games of the season, and I don’t necessarily think we were playing that great of a team game. You look at how we were winning games by the end of the season, and it was a lot of the same guys doing a lot of the damage. But it was a full-team effort by the end of the year.”
On Bouchard’s growth, his ceiling: “I know that when I played with him I guess it would’ve been halfway through the year, I immediately thought he was a smart player and was easy to play with and easy to make reads off of. I tried to get him the puck a lot to get his shot off, and I think everybody knows how hard his shot is. It’s tough as a young guy. You’re coming into the league and there are a lot of good players. The main thing you probably try to focus on is being good defensively, and he’s already got his offensive game going pretty well. That’s only going to get better as he goes along here, so nothing but great things to say about Evan and the year that he had and his future in Edmonton here with the team.”
On Mike Smith, if what you see is what you get as a battler: “Yeah, pretty much. I played against him for all those years. I remember they beat us when he went on that run in Phoenix. He was a major reason why they were able to go that far. I guess as a defenceman, when you have Schmiddy back there, it’s just a nice feeling knowing how well he plays the puck, how well he moves it and how many times he kills the play by getting the puck out of the zone and making an easy pass. It saves the defencemen going back all the time trying to break it out themselves. Those things, his competitive nature, you probably don’t play to be 40 years out without being compettive. I enjoyed being around him as a teammate.”
On what this year meant to him, getting to be closer to his son: “He was able to experience a lot of cool moments this past year. There’s too many to count. It was nice to be able to see him more, and I think all the guys, it’s such a family atmosphere here with the organization where it wasn’t just my son, but Schmiddy’s children, Derek Ryan’s and Turris’, everybody is around, so it’s a pretty neat and special atmosphere I think. Especially as an older guy now having a son and having him be a part of it, they’re memories they’re going to take with them and it means a lot to us older guys. I bet Connor gets tired of signing autographs, but the guys are great. It was a lot of fun.”

Ryan McLeod

On the playoff experience: “I think it was huge. It was a lot of fun and a lot of good experience for us and a couple of the other young guys to get our feet wet in the playoffs. You kind of see as a group how much further we have to go to be a contender every year. It’s kind of exciting with the group we have and the success we’ve had so far.”
On the importance of experience for young players like him: “The last couple years we’ve had good teams and came up short in the playoffs. This is a good step forward for the group. As we were saying in the room, it’s only a step forward though if we continue going further in the next couple of years.”
On seeing guys like Leon Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse play injured through the playoffs: “They’re both warriors. They’re both two of our best players. It’s kind of crazy in playoffs. Those guys have been in the league for a while, they’re still young guys. It’s crazy the amount of pain and energy that they play through to help the team out. It’s really motivating. You want to play well for them because you know how much they’re battling and how much they want to win too, because they’ve been here for a while and haven’t had too much success in the playoffs. We were pushing for those guys too. We have a fun group and a really motivated group, so it should be good.”
On emerging as a player trying to just in, to being a solid contributor: “Coming in, it’s a hard league. It’s the hardsest league in the world. It was a lot of fun coming in as a young guy, obviously I had a lot to learn at the start. First half of the year kind of getting my feet wet, learning the ropes. Then I think I took some steps in the second half, and in playoffs too. It’s good and motivating for the summer. I got a lot to work on, a lot to solidify for next year. I’m really motivated.”
On McLeod going back to the minors early in the year, how it shaped his year: “I think it made me more motivated. Going down there, wanting to get back up here. Once I did, maybe I was a little more hungry to stay up here and prove myself. I honestly think it helped me to be a little more motivated, to improve my game and solidify my role up here.”
On if things changed for him when Woodcroft was promoted: “Yeah, I think he knows my game better than anyone. I’ve been with him for three years now. It’sb nee good having him here. He’s helped my game a lot, so it has been fun to play for him. It’s been good. I think I’ve been taking big steps under him.”
On playing Colorado, if someone like him sees the skill vs. hard skill: “I think they’re a team who was in our position not too long ago. They’ve been the favourites the last couple years and came up shot in the playoffs. They’re figuring out a new way to win and it was a lot of fun to play them. They’re one of the best teams in the league. It’s kind of motivating to see what you have to change in your game to get to that level.”
On watching Draisaitl, if he could see the struggels he had: “He’s a warrior. He’s battling through a tough ankle injury. You don’t want to see anyone hurt, but I think he was doing fantastic for us with what he could. He was a driver of the bus the whole season and in the playoffs. It’s really motivating and it kind of made everyone push a little harder knowing how much he was battling every night.”
On the biggest thing he learned about himself: “I think just that i can play at this level. First half of the year, I was just trying to stay around. I think I can make an impact here and solidify myself as a good role player. Going into the third round was a huge accomplishment for this team, a huge step forward. I think eveyrones super, super hungry to push past the third round next year. Everyone is really hungry to keep moving forward in putting stuff together.”

Mike Smith

On the season, what’s ahead: “Looking back on it, in the brief time I’ve had to decompress, it was challenging at times. Some good things obviously, but a grind — a grind of a season. It was fun to make the playoffs and go on a run like we did, but playing through injuries for the majority of the season is not easy. I don’t know where I’m going to be four months from now. I got a lot of stuff to deal with.”
On playing every game in the playoffs: “That’s why you play. To be honest, you want to be that guy. I’ve enjoyed the ride for sure, it’s been a heck of a ride. There’s been ups and downs, obviously there is every year, but it’s an emotional, physical and mental grind. I was just telling some of the guys, the let down today is real life. When you’re in it, you’re so focused, you’re trying to drown out all the excess noise and distraction to give yourself the best chance to play at a high level, and as a goalie to give your team a chance to win hockey games. When you come up short, it’s very disappointing. Especially as you get older and you realize your chances are getting narrower and narrower to accomplish that ultimate goal. There’s definitely an empty feeling today for sure.”
On Jay Woodcroft’s impact: “I’ve said it all along. Woody painted a picture for our group that allowed us to really excel and play up to our potential. I thought he did an unbelievable job to give us a plan that it was on the players to go execute. I think that’s all you can ask for from a coach. He took us from being out of the playoffs to a playoff team to one of the last four teams playing in the NHL this year. He deserves a ton of credit for sure.”
On there being a report he was considering retirement: “I don’t know where that came from. I don’t know. It’s too early to tell. But that’s media for you, I guess.”
On if he still has the fire being so close to winning: “I think it’s been said before. To look ahead now after you just get ousted in the Conference Finals, It’s hard to see where you’re going to be in the next two days, let alone four months from now. There’s al ot of things to deal with mentally and physcially. That doesn’t have to be decided in the next three minutes.”
On playing against Colorado, a team loaded with offence: “Obviously, an unbelievable team, that just come at you in waves with a lot of different players. They can burn you when you give them opportunities to. They’re a team that you can only fend off for so long if you give them opportunities to capitalize and burn you. They deserve a ton of credit. They’ve come a long way in the last four or five years. They have special talent on their team and are going to be tough to beat in the finals for sure.”
On taking more responsibility than maybe other players as the goaltender: “I believe so. I think that’s part of hte position, part of the job title I guess. You’re the last line of defence. When shit hits the fan, you’re the guy to bail that out. Unfortunately, that’s part of the job. That’s part of why it’s fu to be in that position. I love that challenge. I love to be there for guys when there’s mistakes made, you’re trying to kep the puck out of the net as much as possible.”
On Draisaitl’s play, struggling to gut it out: “Absolute warrior. To have one of your top players, one of the best players in the league as severe as he did and to play as well as he did and battle through… everyone knows the skill level he has, but to be able to compete through an injury as severe as he has, is something that is special and deserves a lot of credit for pushing through.”
On the growth from the Oilers since October, if this year felt different than others for him: “there’s definitely growth, big time. There was a lot of adversity this year that I think a lot of outsiders had us down and out, not coming back from the dead. There’s a lot of perserverance through injuries, through the COVID situation. Obvioulsy, losing 10 straight. To be sitting here today talking about being in the conference finals, losing to one of the best teams in the league. A lot of people had us done. I think to overcome that, and then to get in the playoffs, and to a razy couple rounds, down going on the road to LA to iwnning that series in seven. Obviously beating Calgary, the best team in the west, there was huge steps taken to being a really competitive team for a long time. You can’t simulate that as a player, as a younger player those experiences are priceless, as long as you learn from them the right way. I think we definitely took the big step this year.”
On the Oilers’ belief never wavering amid their mid-season slump: “It was a huge turning point in our season. No one ever gave up on each other. Everyone always believed we had the people that could overcome that adversity. Ultimately, I think we learned a valuable lesson that got us to where we’re sitting here today. Like I said, we came up a little short but took big steps in the right direction. Disappointed to have it end the way it did, but I’m proud of this team for sure.”
On if the Oilers need to re-sign Evander Kane for what he brings to the table: “That’s not up to me. He was leading the league in scoring in the playoffs. It’s pretty obvious.”
On being a 40-year-old goaltender who was a number one, if he can come back and be that guy: “Spec, I have no idea at this point. Like I said, it’s been a grind for sure. I’m not getting any younger. I don’t know where I’m going to be at. I know it’s been a lot more difficult this year than years past. I don’t know at this point. It’s too early to tell.”

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 zach@oilersnation.com.

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