Growing up in Calgary and cheering for the Flames as a child has stained my blood a certain shade of red. Being a nomad, however, has it benefits. I moved to “oil country” when I was 14 years old. I’ve gained a diverse point of view when it comes to hockey, by sitting side by side with my Dad, an avid Oilers fan, through hundreds of Edmonton games. When you love someone, you just want them to be happy, so I have learned to root for the Oilers. Not to mention my embedded sense of protection for the underdog. I will still wear my big red Flames shirt to bed whenever it’s clean (it’s just so comfy) and then wonder why my dad I and are getting into useless arguments those nights. And that “50 years old and still a fan” Flames coffee mug my dad got me for Christmas as a joke is probably my favourite cup in my ever growing and constantly ridiculed collection. Red and Blue represent my past and my present and I can look at both team’s success with a familiar eye.
This season has shifted my attention from south to north with great stride as a result of one new and notable character on the ice. A young man named Connor McDavid, born in a town outside of Toronto, has graced our city in a way that no one has since Wayne Gretzky. McDavid put on his first skates at age three and began playing hockey the following year, lying about his age in order to play with the fiveyear-olds. That is what I call born and bred to play high-level hockey. A gift granted and nurtured without any recess. But on Wednesday Nov. 3 just around 9 p.m., you could hear the collective gasp of all Edmontonians and McDavid fans. He was taken into the boards by two Philadelphia Flyers and, just after being named NHL rookie of the month, after we marvelled at his play for 12 games, the unthinkable happened in the 13th. A broken collarbone and indefinitely sidelined, all we can do is send healing vibes and wait until we can see him skate once again. Despite the injury, though, he had enough time to make a huge impact on each member of the team and all of the fans.
The Oilers will be fine without him for the next couple months so let’s talk about the many reasons why he is and always will be, the golden boy. Expect no stats in the coming paragraphs – his energy on and off the ice is what inspires me and keeps my eyes glued to SportsCentre every game day.
He has single handedly revived our almost perpetually limping team this season with a major hand in three wins in a row, despite a wobbly start. He has brought a whirlwind of publicity and dynastic invigoration to the team. He is not only “showing up” for every game, he has touched every player with his skill, blessing the organization and motivating the team to be better as a whole. The first Oil regulation win against the Detroit Red Wings in six years a coincidence? I think not. The Montréal Canadiens comeback was a top trend on Facebook and for good reason. We’re miners and we’ve struck gold. “The Oilers had the Great One, now they’ve got the Next One in Connor McDavid,” said a recent article in Edmonton’s Metro newspaper.
Connor, four years my junior, has never failed to fascinate me. Through the outrageous hype and constant buzz, he hasn’t batted an eye. If someone held up a massive Photoshopped painting of my face on Jesus’s body like a fan did for McDavid, I would, first of all, be utterly offended on behalf of many religious people and, second, shake his hand. When he saw the doctored photo at a recent game, he kept his face forward as he walked to the ice with his perfectly tightened skates because the only thing that brings him any joy is scoring goals and bettering the team he was put on. He is a wonder to watch, gliding effortlessly through, (not into) other players. It’s as if his brain can see that much farther ahead. He plays smart and also hard. His incredible skill is nothing short of captivating but the most interesting thing about McDavid for me is his unwavering lack of emotion. You will rarely see him look at ease or even slightly happy until the puck has been shot into an opponent’s net by him or any other member of the team. He is straight-faced and thinks of nothing but how he is going to decapitate the enemy. A virgin to the NHL before the Oilers and he lives for the success of it. When you have this staggering amount of pressure and the heart strings of every Oilers fan woven tightly into your livelihood, the only time there is an allowance for relief is fighting and winning.
An incredible volume of pressure has been not only placed on him but thrown, dropped and positioned nicely on his broad and conditioned shoulders. From journalists across North America to every sports commentator known to man, everyone has their eyes glued to the young man, born in just ’97. To watch him play, it’s like fine art on ice. His away goalie interactions are the paintbrush and the ice is the canvas. McDavid is a work of art, bred for this game and we are the spectators given the chance to marvel at him. Injuries happen and this minor setback won’t be a game changer. He’s every diehard’s dream to have the pleasure of being aligned with. The prodigy of my time, I can’t wait to keep following this future hall of famer’s dynamic career.
Editor in Chief