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McDavid, Oilers hungry for fulfillment after final season’s third-round sweep


EDMONTON — Connor McDavid arrived in Edmonton clean-shaven with a tidy new haircut. The hockey hair, the crimson beard, that was final yr. And final yr is historical historical past round right here. 

If there may be an analogy to be made, it could be discovered someplace within the early theme that has arisen right here on the Captain’s Skates, the place just about each participant of consequence has returned to Edmonton early, a constructive signal of the engagement degree this fall. 

The hair is brief, and so are the reminiscences. 

“I imply, we actually solely gained another sport (final spring) than we did in 2017,” the Oilers captain stated, referencing the staff’s eight playoff wins in ‘22 and 7 in ’17. “It looks like we had been nearer final yr than the earlier years, but it surely’s only one extra win. So we have got a protracted methods to go.” 

What does it take to enhance on a berth within the Western Convention Last? 

“It takes all people and it takes all season lengthy.” 

It was simply 5 brief seasons in the past when the Oilers got here to camp after having taken the Anaheim Geese to seven video games in Spherical 2. They very properly may have gained that collection, if not for a horrible final 4 minutes of Recreation 5 and a few snaky officiating alongside the way in which. 

However both manner, the belief was that the Oilers had been going to kill it in 2017-18. The curse was over, child, and this staff was for actual. 

Then the season began, and Edmonton gained one among its first 5 video games, two of its first 11, and by American Thanksgiving the Oilers had a file of 8-12-2. They had been cooked like John Madden’s Tur-duck-en, a tidy lesson in considering a seat on the playoff desk was assured based mostly off one thing you probably did 12 months earlier than. 

“We’ve achieved this in 2017, and the subsequent yr we missed the playoffs, proper?” Leon Draisaitl reminded everybody final week. “So we all know how arduous it’s to get again there. We all know what it’s like and the way a lot work it’s important to put in over 82 video games to even get an opportunity. So we’re ranging from Recreation 1, we’re attempting to construct our sport, and get higher from there on.” 

What you might be listening to is the distinction between the 20- or 21-year-old management this staff had again in 2017, and the mid- to late-20s group that runs this dressing room at this time. 

For those who’d have advised 20-year-old Connor McDavid that he nonetheless wouldn’t have an Olympic or senior Group Canada look underneath his belt 5 years down the highway, he’d have thought you an imbecile — even when he’d by no means have stated it. For those who’d have advised him his staff would miss the playoffs in ’18 and ’19, then fail to win a spherical in ’20 or ’21, he might have laughed out loud. 

However an absence of staff success has a manner of focussing a participant of McDavid’s import. So he has come to Edmonton this fall with a thoughts to begin his staff down a path that may finish in another way than final yr’s sweep within the Western Convention Last. And at this time, his supporting forged isn’t a bunch of young-20’s studs. 

They’re Draisaitl, 26, Darnell Nurse, 27, Zach Hyman, 30, Evander Kane, 31. Cody Ceci is 28, whereas Tyson Barrie is 31. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is 29, and can probably go the 750-game plateau this season. 

“It’s the shortest summer season I’ve had up to now, which is clearly a superb factor. The thrill across the room is pleasure and wanting to get going once more,” he admitted. 

So when do issues start to get critical? 

“It begins instantly,” Nugent-Hopkins stated. “The angle for everyone has been, we’re working proper from the get go right here. The skates have been good, the exercises have been good and … Connor type of leads away in that regard.” 




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