As TSN's Bob McKenzie would put it: few are capable of enduring the "Great Canadian Torture Test." Since McDavid was deemed by members of the Ontario Hockey League to be "exceptional" as a 15 year old kid, he's been thrust into the spotlight. Having the type of talent he has does two things: it demands the eyes of everyone from the fans in the arena, to the scouts around the country, and to the fans tuning in online or on TV. It also places immense pressure and speculation on a kid who's supposed to be studying for his grade 10 math test.
When a 13 year old kid starts receiving calls from hockey equipment companies and gets offered free gear, it places him in a spotlight perhaps earlier than it should. From the time he was a young teenager, McDavid has been battling the natural jealousies that come with being completely more talented than anyone among his peers. Since he was coached by his father for some time, the phenom dealt with the accusation of favouritism for most of his early hockey days. When you're this good, certain people will see you in a negative light - whether it's fair or not.
Five years before he would even be drafted into the National Hockey League, there began a distinct divide as to the people who were on his side, and to the people cheering against him. When terms like "The Next Sidney Crosby" is being thrown around, critics are developed early. Now 19 years old, in his second season of professional ice hockey, that divide continues to be nurtured, and likely will never stop.
Here we take a look at 8 people who will hate McDavid, and 7 who will love him.
17 HATE: Jack Eichel
If not for McDavid's presence, Jack Eichel would be the franchise centerman we'd be over-analyzing ridiculously. He's the best player to come out of the States since Patrick Kane in 2007, something they desperately need after a pitiful showing at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.
Prior to the 2015 draft, Eichel was considered within reach of beating out McDavid for the first overall pick, but ended up going one selection behind him at the second spot. Since joining the NHL Eichel has shown clear agitation in the constant comparisons.
"We're not friends. I don't really know him. I don't have his number." Eichel said in October of last season. Unfortunately for the Massachusetts native, their only head-to-head match up didn't go his way, as his Sabres lost 2-1, with McDavid scoring both goals, including the overtime winner. I doubt Eichel has fond memories of that game, and if he can get back in the lineup for the next matchup on December 6th, I expect the 6'2" center to up the physicality.
16 LOVE: Jordan Eberle
Many thought that after consecutive first overall picks with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins in 2010 and 2011, respectively that the Edmonton Oilers had found their top line for years to come. Individually, Eberle has performed well in his early career, topping 60 points three times in the next five years, but needs work.
That top line was not to be though, with the Oilers beating the odds once again and adding Connor McDavid to the equation. General Manager Pete Chiarelli chose Eberle over Hall in a move that had to delight the winger from Regina, Saskatchewan, as he so far has been the primary passenger on the McDavid train.
"I've played with Connor and he's an exceptional player and I think he'll be the future of hockey," Eberle said.
Translation: "Connor is the future of hockey and I am absolutely thrilled to be his winger for the next 10 years."
I would be too.
15 HATE: Vince Vaughn
Vince Vaughn has had the pleasure of having front row, bang-on-the-glass seats for the best team of the past decade (and we mean "bang-on-the-glass" as Vaughn can be seen doing on any given night during the NHL season).
He has forever been linked to Chicago Blackhawks hockey from the 1996 film "Swingers" where he kept using former 'Hawks star Jeremy Roenick to rock Wayne Gretzky.
He seemed quite un-fond of that particular star, and with Connor McDavid and his Oilers poised to ascend to the upper echelon of the Western Conference, Vaughn's tendency for superstar disdain may be rekindled once more. Not to mention, Connor may begin to scorch Vaughn's beloved Blackhawks on a consistent basis in future years as the Oilers rise and the 'Hawks age.
14 LOVE: Calgary Flames
Over time I'm sure the Calgary Flames will grow to dislike Connor McDavid for his supreme talents upon the ice. But after the Battle of Alberta has been dormant over the last decade, the Flames head office must be getting excited about the possibility of rekindling the rivalry of the early 2000s.
With their own solid nucleus of young talent that includes Sean Monahan, Johnny Gaudreau, Sam Bennett, Dougie Hamilton, and T.J. Brodie, the Flames won't be so quick to say Edmonton is the only team of the future in Alberta.
The Flames-Oilers rivalry began in the late '80s with Lanny MacDonald and Wayne Gretzky and continued to Jarome Iginla and Ryan Smyth in the early 2000s. And now to Connor McDavid and Johnny Gaudreau. Considering they will meet in the regular season five times every season, expect this rivalry to grow right alongside the youth of each club.
13 HATE: Taylor Hall
"I do take this is an indictment on me as a hockey player. I don't think there's any other way to treat it." Taylor Hall said after being traded on that infamous June evening this past summer.
Hall had been the Oilers' offensive star for the previous six seasons and was the start of their official rebuild after being selected with the first overall pick in 2010. Despite leading the team in scoring in three of his last four years as an Oiler, there is general consent that he has failed to become the leader the Oilers were hoping for when they made him their first first overall selection in franchise history.
Former teammate and 23 year old defenseman Oscar Klefbom was quoted as saying, "Hall never played his best against the tough teams," a hint to how he was perceived in the Oilers locker room. Another former teammate, Ben Scrivens, chimed in on Klefbom's perspective, saying, "He would know pretty well. He played with him for a while, and I can't say he's wrong."
The Windsor, Ontario native has taken his departure from Oil Country personally, and if not for McDavid, we can all but guarantee he would still be an Edmonton Oiler.
12 LOVE: The Entire Eastern Conference
There are currently 16 teams in the NHL who will only ever have to face McDavid in the playoffs if they make the Stanley Cup Finals. Those 16 teams must be incredibly fond of that knowledge.
In 2005 when it was revealed that Sidney Crosby would indeed be going to Pittsburgh, the entire Western Conference breathed a collective sigh of relief. From the fans perspective, it's nice to see the great talents in the league on a regular basis. But make no mistake about it, every Eastern Conference head coach is thrilled they will face McDavid once or twice per year, and almost never in the playoffs. And then, when it comes time to face McDavid and his Oilers in the Stanley Cup Final, we can only wish good luck to all.
11 HATE: Will Ferrell
Much like Vince Vaughn, Will Ferrell has been able to enjoy one the best teams of the past decade after his Los Angeles Kings won two Stanley Cups in 2012 and 2014. The Kings appear to be declining since their most recent Cup victory, and there are a couple of reasonable guesses as to who might be next to battle for the Cup out of the west.
"I'm a fairly big hockey fan, in terms of the Kings, ever since the triple crown line with Dave Taylor, Charlie Simmer, and Marcel Dionne." Ferrell said at a Kings game in 2012. He also claimed he and Don Cherry used to go on road trips together, but we'll take that one with a grain of salt.
In the late '80s, Mister Ferrell was treated to the biggest trade in history when his Kings poached Wayne Gretzky from the Edmonton Oilers. As McDavid continues his quest to bring Lord Stanley's Cup back to Alberta, you can bet Ferrell will be hoping history repeats itself and the Kings can somehow steal the league's brightest star from the Oilers once more. Otherwise, Ferrell is going to hate this kid for shredding his Kings.
10 LOVE: Gary Bettman
When Gary Bettman took over as Commissioner of the NHL in the early '90s, he inherited a league full of stars, with Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Paul Coffey, Mark Messier, and Joe Sakic inspiring a generation of hockey fans. In the early 2000s, that generation of players' careers were winding down, and there were plenty of questions as to who would carry the torch from Mario and Wayne. Bettman got his answer in 2005 when Sidney Crosby took the league by storm with a 102 point rookie season.
A couple years ago he faced a similar situation. McDavid's entry into the league could not be timed better - with Crosby and Alex Ovechkin just crossing the 30 year mark - there will be plenty of overlap between McDavid and his veteran counterparts. For Bettman, that overlap will produce prime time games that are easily marketable every time a Crosby vs. McDavid showdown is scheduled. It may never happen, but could you imagine the TV ratings for a Crosby vs. McDavid Stanley Cup final? ($$$$$$$$)
Assuming Crosby plays at least until his late 30s, the NHL and the media should have almost a full decade to ask that question every reporter loves: "Has Crosby passed the torch along to McDavid?" And that question is one that Gary will never get sick of hearing. (Pictured Above: Bettman watches McDavid accept his Draft Day jersey.)
9 HATE: Brian Elliott
Just two years ago, Brian Elliott was the best NHL hockey player on the planet from Newmarket, Ontario. Then, on October 8, 2015, that changed forever when the heir to the NHL throne played his first NHL game.
To make matters worse McDavid's archrival Calgary Flames acquired him this past offseason, and in the first two games of the season, the young phenom lit Elliott up for three goals and three assists (including the nasty penalty shot goal featured above). With the Flames having zero goaltending depth, it is likely they will extend Elliott for another couple years, condemning him to face the ferocious pace and quickness of McDavid at least five times per year, which is no fun for any goaltender. Good luck with that, Elliott.
8 LOVE: Daryl Katz
After purchasing the Edmonton Oilers in July of 2008, the Canadian billionaire has long been pushing for a replacement to the aging Rexall Place - home to the dynasty of the the Gretzky-Messier led Oilers in the early '80s.
The timing of Connor McDavid becoming an Oiler could not have been any better. Daryl Katz finally gained approval for construction of an arena that would revitalize Edmonton's downtown core in March of 2014. Just over a year later in April of 2015, Katz and the Oilers Entertainment Group (OEG) struck gold when they landed Canada's new golden boy.
With the opening of Rogers Place for the season opener this past October, Katz' vision has now come full circle: a brand new, state of the arc arena, a rejuvenated downtown core, and the new face of the NHL wearing his Edmonton Oilers brand.
Maybe, just maybe, it's worth the -35 degree winters now.
6 HATE: Mark Scheifele and Paul Maurice
Mark Scheifele is the number one centerman for a Western Conference team that will be matching up against the Oilers for years to come. Paul Maurice is the brain who has to decide how to shut down McDavid's otherworldly speed and skill.
Since February 18th of last year, the NHL's top three point producers have been Scheifele (56), Sidney Crosby (45), and Joe Thornton (44). The Jets center is in elite company, and although they played together in the World Cup this past fall for Team North America, make no mistake about it, they will be competing for the scoring title for years and years to come.
Both Edmonton and Winnipeg are considered teams of the future, and should each team's potential be realized, these two will be butting heads at the face off dot for the next decade.
4 LOVE: Wayne Gretzky
If you consider the game's generational talents since the '80s to be Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Sidney Crosby, and now Connor McDavid, you'll notice that these four superstars all began their careers for just two teams: the Edmonton Oilers and the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby lived with Mario for the first few years of his career, and while McDavid is not living with Great One, he certainly has his support and mentorship.
"I don't think there's any question that Connor's the best 19 year-old hockey player I've ever seen and I saw Lemieux, Messier, I saw Lafleur," Gretzky said prior to the start of this season. For someone who scored more than 200 points 5 times, that's pretty high praise.
"I could get 60 goals playing with that guy, I'm truly amazed at how good he is."
Gretzky re-joined the Oilers recently in an executive role and although this title says "going to love Connor McDavid," it's pretty obvious the NHL's all time leading scorer already has some serious love for the young star. (Pictured Above: Gretzky shaking McDavid's hand.)
3 HATE: Patrik Laine
Once upon a time after a certain 2005 lockout two guys named Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin began a media-hyped rivalry that would inspire an entire generation of hockey - and is still doing so now. Now it's up to Patrik Laine and Connor McDavid.
The parallels are strikingly similar.
Crosby was the Canadian centerman whose ability to process the game and elevate his teammates was unmatched by any. Ovechkin was a hard hitting European wrecking ball with a shot that could find the twine from anywhere. They were both in the Eastern Conference, and they both joined teams that had struggled mightily over the previous half decade.
Fast forward 10 years, and McDavid and Laine fit those same descriptions, only they're out West. Laine was quoted many times as saying he thinks he should be the number one pick in the most recent NHL Draft, and has a confidence about him that is completely opposite the humble Canadian centerman.
As this rivalry continues to be nurtured, I wouldn't expect Laine to mince any words when it comes to establishing superiority over McDavid's Edmonton Oilers. You can bet it will become personal, particularly as they begin to meet in the plyoffs. Laine's physical nature should only fuel the fire as they continue to battle.
2 LOVE: Edmonton Oilers Fan Base
It's been a long decade for Oilers fans. After their magical run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2006, where they eliminated the NHL-record 124 point Detroit Red Wings as the eigth seed, it's been completely downhill.
The Oilers became the second team in NHL history to select first overall three consecutive years, nabbing Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, and Nail Yakupov. The first team to have three consecutive first overall selections were the Quebec Nordiques, who were a little bit luckier in their acquisitions, bringing in Mats Sundin, Owen Nolan, and attempting to welcome Eric Lindros to the fold.
Oil Country was "lucky" in getting three first overall selections in a row, but incredibly unlucky in who was available for the draft, as Nail Yakupov has failed to meet expectations. In 2015, however, they were lucky on both fronts - jumping from third overall to first in order to grab the game's next great talent in Connor McDavid. Acquiring the phenom induced a a much needed reason to restructure the organization, with general manager Peter Chiarelli joining the mix alongside head coach Todd McLellan.
Edmonton fans are now equipped with two things they did not have prior to McDavid: a bold, Stanley Cup Winning GM, and a number one centerman.
1 HATE: Sidney Crosby
You'll never hear him say it, as the Canadian center from Nova Scotia is tact and composed in his interviews, but Sidney Crosby will be doing everything in his power to halt the proverbial torch passing so many are predicting.
You don't have to look any further than this season. "Sid the Kid" is off to an inhuman start, scoring 14 goals in 14 games. Croz is obviously capable of scoring, but has always been a pass first player. Is this his response to the threat of his throne?
In 1984, when Mario Lemieux entered the NHL as a premier threat to Wayne Gretzky, "The Great One" didn't take it lightly. In his first three seasons that Lemieux was in the league, Gretzky never scored less than 183 points - a flash of dominance to assert his perch as hockey's best. When Lindros joined the league, Gretzky posted his last 100+ point season, amassing 130 points in just 81 games. These guys care whether they'll say it in the media or not.
Crosby and McDavid have only gone head-to-head once in their career, with McDavid generating three assists and Crosby being held off the scoresheet. I expect Crosby's statistics to be much, much more impressive the next time around as he tries to delay the inevitable.
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