I have no idea what Connor McDavid wanted to speak with Marc Spector about following the Edmonton Oilers pre-game media avail on Friday, but there’s a ton of speculation that it might have had to do with a review the Sportsnet columnist wrote about McDavid and many of his teammates in a recent article.
McDavid and Darnell Nurse took questions from the media on Friday and as expected, most of them had to do with Dave Tippett’s firing as head coach. The media avail came just hours after Spector posted an article stating that McDavid — and stars on the team just like him — should be held accountable for the coach’s dismissal.
Did McDavid want to talk about Spector’s comments? Oh, to be a fly on the wall. Even if that wasn’t the context of their conversation, McDavid did the right thing by wanting to speak with the reporter privately. Now it’s time for the superstar to step up and have a breakout game.
McDavid Wanted to Have a Word
If you look at the video below, you can see that when Nurse and McDavid were done answering their round of questions, McDavid ushered Spector over to have a chat. The video cut off, so it’s not clear the two ever did speak, but the moment in the video is getting a lot of attention on social media.
Neither has commented since, but some are suggesting McDavid was going to tear a strip off the columnist after the following was written in an article published on Sportsnet’s website Thursday evening:
Connor McDavid uses his surreal speed to fly the zone and scorer highlight-reel goals, but not often enough to prevent chances in his own zone. He’s great with the puck, but without it McDavid — who has spoken of his need to defend better, and has made strides — still couldn’t carry Sid Crosby’s equipment bag.
Spector contends in the article that Leon Draisaitl could be the best all-around player on his team but also suggests he simply doesn’t want to. He argues that Darnell Nurse is too busy trying to score points when he should be defending. He called Kailer Yamamoto, Jesse Puljujarvi, Zack Kassian, and Tyson Barrie “deadweight” for the new coach to figure out.
His argument was that “perhaps after most of three seasons, did a roster that could not — or would not — accept anything other than star-driven, stats-hungry hockey finally, stubbornly stop listening?” Spector didn’t think Tippett forgot how to coach. The players simply weren’t prepared to do what’s needed to win.
Right Or Wrong, a McDavid Conversation With Spector Needed to Happen
Whether you agree with Spector’s take on the current state of the Oilers and the reasoning behind Tippett’s termination, whatever conversation needed to happen between McDavid and Spector likely needed to happen immediately. And, it should happen privately, where the rest of the world wasn’t privy to what was said.
It wasn’t long ago that Draisaitl took issue with reporter Jim Matheson, resulting in the two having words and Matheson calling Draisaitl “pissy” for the entire fan base to see. It wasn’t a good look and it didn’t reflect well on Draisaitl, even if Matheson took the brunt of the criticism. McDavid was right not to let something similar play out in public, assuming he did want to take Spector to task. There’s clearly something off with the Oilers. The coach was fired as a result and Spector is calling the team out for it. That doesn’t mean McDavid should punch back in front of the cameras, or not tell his side, should he want to.
Is McDavid Showing Leadership Here?
Hockey fans outside Edmonton love to troll the Oilers fan base by suggesting it won’t be long before McDavid wants out. If the losing continues, they contend, why would he want to stay? McDavid has never suggested he’s frustrated here, other than it becomes clear to anyone that a competitor like him has to be frustrated with losing. So too, it’s fair to assume columns like these don’t sit well.
Whether McDavid wanted to tell Spector he was right or wrong in his assessment, this is McDavid taking a leadership role by asking to chat with the reporter who wasn’t very flattering in his condemnation of the roster. What will be intriguing will be how he responds.
It took Draisaitl a couple of games to explode offensively after his run-in with Matheson, but he did. Will McDavid take this review to heart and have a massive game? Whether he brings his own game up a level or drags others into the fight with him, expect McDavid to respond. The first step might have been talking with Spector. The second might be showing Spector he’s not right.