Yesterday, my son wrote a post responding to Elliotte Friedman’s announcement that the Edmonton Oilers’ mega-star Connon McDavid might have given the Oilers management a timeframe for improvement or he would ask to leave.
As Jim Jr. noted to me, “I certainly stirred the pot with the McDavid post I put up.” He even noted that he had some nasty comments and had lost twitter followers with the post.
I can see it. Edmonton Oilers’ fans have had a hard go of it for a couple of years, and to hear that the magnet of hope on the team – McDavid – might leave. That’s upsetting, and it’s scary. For Oilers’ fans, it might augur the Dark Ages of Edmonton Hockey once again.
A Crazy Rumor?
This might be a crazy rumor, but it’s out there. There’s a rumor that McDavid has given the Oilers a deadline to improve or he will wave good-bye. Might it be true that McDavid has become impatient with Oilers’ management’s floundering around? Well, Sportsnet’s Friedman made comments about that possibility. And, whether he has first-hand knowledge – whether he heard it from McDavid’s mouth or not – Oilers’ fans must consider whether the comments make sense or not.
Here’s what happened. During an interview on Sportsnet 590, from out of the blue and gold, Friedman announced his belief that the Oilers’ captain (who many hockey fans believe is the best hockey player in the world) is becoming impatient. Friedman noted that he believes the team has only two seasons to convince McDavid they have a workable plan to make the playoffs and become competitive.
Friedman noted during the radio show, “I think the answer is no, he’s not patient. But he’s also willing to be convinced. I think they’ve got two years to show him they’re going in the right direction. This year and next year.”
Friedman is one of the smart guys of hockey, and although he doesn’t have anything to go on –other than a hunch and his hockey sense – it’s not a bad thing to listen to what he thinks. What might be additionally telling is that the competitive nature of the team (or lack of it) might also impact McDavid in other tangible ways.
By that I mean, when things are good in Edmonton, they’re very good; however, when things are bad in Edmonton, they’re very bad.
McDavid Reports that He’s Received Rough Treatment by Edmonton Oilers’ Fans
One thing, in addition to these rumors, that I read about McDavid is that he was “chirped at” by fans during a dinner he was having with his parents in an Edmonton restaurant.
That story suggests that even the Oilers’ beloved star can suffer embarrassing verbal abuse at the hands of die-hard fans. What these fans fail to realize is that McDavid is more than a professional hockey player; he’s a human with feelings and hopes and a family he wants to protect. And, as I read McDavid’s story about going to dinner with his parents, as a parent myself, if I were McDavid’s mom and dad, it would have both angered me and embarrassed me.
The story I am citing was in a 2018 interview in the magazine GQ, where McDavid shared the reactions of Oiler fans. He noted, “It was awful. It was terrible. It was miserable around town. I remember everyone just chirping at you all the time. I was at dinner one time with my parents, and I was walking out and guys were chirping me. They’re passionate people and passionate fans. When you’re winning, you’re a hero in this city, and when you’re losing they want to run you right out of it.”
Friedman’s Own Thoughts, But Consider Them
Imagine – that kind of treatment from fans in front of your parents sucks. And, although Friedman admitted that his thoughts were his own, I have come to believe that sometimes intelligent people have intelligent thoughts.
Really, you don’t have to be a hockey insider to understand logic and human behavior. A young man like McDavid, since he was a child, has honed his craft to partake in the ultimate experience of leading his team to win a Stanley Cup. So, good sense suggests that – even if Friedman is wrong about McDavid talking to the Oilers’ brass – he’s right about how McDavid might be thinking.
So, the Oilers are on their third head coach since McDavid was a lottery pick. That isn’t good for stability and growth. The Oilers’ mistakes are myriad – Peter Chiarelli trades Taylor Hall for Adam Larsson. Larsson’s a great defenseman, but Hall won the NHL’s MVP with the New Jersey Devils. And there were more.
As an Oilers’ fan, one has to hope that new general manager Ken Holland both can manage the team’s salary-cap issues and find a strong supporting cast to build a competitive team around McDavid.
Already some of the pieces are part of the team, and Oilers’ fans know who they are. Let’s hope the remainder can be added – and two seasons seems about the right time.
If not, well, I wouldn’t blame McDavid if he did leave. It would be a tragedy for Oilers’ fans, but it simply isn’t unthinkable.