A couple of days ago, I wrote a satirical piece joking that Leon Draisaitl must be furious with Connor McDavid for having such an incredible season. The point was to suggest that Draisaitl and McDavid are not only great players on their own, but so much better when they play together. Astonishingly (well, maybe not), most people didn’t get it, nor did they sense the intentionally obvious tone of sarcasm.
The reality is, yes, Draisaitl is having one of his best seasons ever and coming off a Hart Trophy campaign in which he outscored McDavid. The highest-scoring German-born player in history is not often getting talked about in 2020-21, even though he should be. Still, none of that really matters. As much as individual accolades are a nice cherry on top of the sundae, the goal in Edmonton is to compete in the playoffs and ultimately win the league’s biggest prize.
Both McDavid and Draisaitl will tell you they’d trade personal success for team wins. Neither really care if they shatter records or beat personal bests if doing so means sacrificing a chance at the Stanley Cup.
The idea of my recent post was to suggest that those who critique this Oilers team or argue that one player would not be as big a success without the other need to find another, less ignorant argument to make. Moreover, those that want to contend that somehow this Oilers team wouldn’t be anywhere as good as it is if not for the two top scorers in the NHL… So what? Every good team has good players. Most really successful ones have a couple of them.
The Magic Is in Players Playing for Each Other
When good teams become special ones is when it’s clear the best players are playing with and for each other. If there was ever any doubt that Draisaitl was playing for his close friend and captain, his words after Edmonton’s second-straight victory over the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday should put those doubts to rest.
Much has been made about McDavid’s race to reach 100 points in a 56-game season. He’ll downplay what it means if he achieves that goal, but Draisaitl isn’t about to lay off the gas if it means getting his line mate and friend to the finish line. Draisaitl was asked if it was important McDavid reach the 100-point marker. He explained:
“He does so much for our team. He does so much for us on a nightly basis. The least we can do is help him out as much as we can. It might not be that important to him, but it’s sure important for us.”
Undoubtedly, Draisaitl speaks for the entire team when he ushers these words. There’s no denying how important both players are, but there’s a special vibe around this organization right now. It’s clear everyone has picked up their game and you can see it on the ice as players try not to fall short of expectations.
McDavid deserves to reach 100. He’s played lights out hockey all season and he’s carried the team on many occasions. The least the rest of the roster can do is try and return the favor. Draisaitl is happy to be the first in line and lead by example.
Does Draisaitl Actually Care that No One Is Talking About His Season?
My recent satirical piece was never meant to evoke questions that Draisaitl might actually be upset. It was meant to sarcastically point out the opposite. Leon could care less. At this point, he’s probably playing more for McDavid than he is himself.
When directly asked if it mattered that he’s the reigning Art Ross, Hart and Ted Lindsay winner, second in the scoring race by a comfortable margin and no one is talking about him, he responded with: “It’s fine,” he said, smiling. “I had my shine in the summer. I’m all good.”
In the end, my hope was that being so blatantly outlandish in suggesting Draisailt would be frustrated or ever want to leave this obviously mutually beneficial situation would make the point he’s clearly not and clearly doesn’t. I guess simply asking him was the better way to go.
McDavid had two assists on Tuesday, setting up two goals by Draisaitl. Perfect timing.
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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