For anyone that watched the Michael Jordan special on Netflix, “The Last Dance”, you know the great ones always find a way to motivate themselves. This is true, even if the motivation isn’t the easiest thing to find.
In Jordan’s case, it was often something as simple as a couple of words uttered by a reporter for the opposing team, or not finishing as the NBA’s MVP and having to find a way to prove he was still the best. All of this, even if it was only in his own mind.
Jordan had an edge to him. Anyone who watched that documentary could tell, assuming they didn’t already know so from Jordan’s days as an active NBA player and the years of trash-talking he became famous for. It’s one of the many things that made Jordan one of, if not the best.
What Does This Have to Do With McDavid?
Like Jordan, the Edmonton Oilers superstar center Connor McDavid is said to have a little bit of that in him. In fact, Sportsnet analyst and hockey insider Elliotte Friedman said during a recent 31 Thoughts podcast that McDavid is known to be a little “prickly.”
That might sound like a bit of knock, but it isn’t. Moreover, for the Oilers, that’s a good thing.
McDavid had a great season. He made a miraculous comeback from what could have been a career-ending injury and finished second in NHL points with 97, falling short only to his teammate Leon Draisaitl.
Still, McDavid wasn’t voted for the Ted Lindsay Award nor for the Hart Trophy. He’s happy for his teammate and has even gone to bat for him pre-voting to suggest the media better get it right with the Hart award, but let’s not kid ourselves; McDavid wants that trophy. He wants it every season.
It’s not that the other candidates weren’t deserving — Draisaitl certainly was, and Nathan McKinnon and Artemi Panarin had great seasons of their own — but not officially being in the conversation likely irks McDavid, even if he never shows as much.
And, when you’re as good as McDavid is, that’s the way it should be.
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A Motivated McDavid
Friedman and Jeff Marek discussed this idea of a motivated McDavid and Friedman noted that “McDavid’s got an edge to him” and might be creating perceived slights. He’s probably getting a gentle push in that direction too. “I’m sure Dave Tippett is whispering, ‘Not a Lindsay finalist, hey? Not a Hart Finalist, hey?’ Friedman even suggested McDavid’s agent is finding ways to poke at the star of the league and just enough to get McDavid mentally ready to dominate.
The end result of all this time to think about his season, where he finished, what’s expected of the Oilers, and some insiders wondering if the Chicago Blackhawks can upset them in the play-ins, leads Friedman to think McDavid will come out like a house on fire. Marek came right out and said, “A rested and inspired Connor McDavid… good luck.”
How Dangerous Will McDavid Be?
From many accounts coming out of the Oilers camp, McDavid has never looked better. He seems even faster than he did when he shocked the hockey world that major rehab over an entire summer hadn’t slowed him down.
And that’s just the physical stuff. When it comes to wanting to make a difference, Marek knows McDavid well and says if there’s a player who can change a series, McDavid is that player. Whether he’s finding ways to internally suggest he’s been overlooked, or he’s just mentally ready because he’s rested, that’s not good news for the Chicago Blackhawks.
The only good news for the Blackhawks is that the team is finally healthy, getting goaltender Corey Crawford back from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. But, if you listen to Friedman and Marek, one has to wonder if that matters.
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Jim Parsons is a freelance writer who covers the Edmonton Oilers and news and rumors posts here at The Hockey Writers.
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