Connor McDavid is one of the greatest hockey players in the NHL. Known as "The Next One," he's been touted as the single-best prospect to enter the NHL since Wayne Gretzky and his 100-point season in 2016-17 has proven people might be right.
One of the most dynamic offensive players in hockey, his speed, skill and technical ability is second to none, yet for some reason, he's not viewed as officially the fastest or best the game has to offer — at least not yet.
Whenever a force like McDavid enters any sport, certain things start to happen. Defenses key in and focus their attention on him. Teams have created game plans to try and stop him. Players have let their jealousy shine through and the opposition has taken cheap shots throughout his career in an effort to throw him off his game. Nothing seems to stop McDavid and he's used that attention to motivate himself and his teammates to new heights.
The Edmonton Oilers are a playoff team because of him and they're considered one of the up-and-coming franchises in the NHL.
McDavid's talents, leadership and personality have made him tons of friends. He's developed close bonds with current and former players in the NHL. That said, he's not without his enemies. Anyone this good is bound to have a hater or two and a little lack of respect makes these people not high on McDavid's Christmas card list. Here are a list of eight people McDavid loves and eight he hates.
17 Loves: Milan Lucic
Back when McDavid was a youngster (he's still really young), an interviewer asked him to describe his style of game and then who he thought he'd play well with when he finally made it to the NHL. You'll see later he didn't choose a certain someone (arguably the best player in hockey), but he did choose Milan Lucic and said he would like to play with the big rugged forward. Fast forward a few years and that's exactly what happened.
That Lucic is also one of the most popular tough guys in the NHL helps. McDavid must feel way more confident making his moves and being himself when he knows he has an enforcer like Lucic just a step away to knock some sense into anyone who tries to take liberties with the best player on the team.
16 Hates: Ryan Kesler
Ryan Kesler is known as a great hockey player, but also a tremendous pest. He's developed a reputation for playing cheap, dirty and shadowing good players to help his own team — the type of player you hate to play against but wouldn't mind having on your team. So, when the Anaheim Ducks (Kesler's team) wound up playing the Edmonton Oilers (McDavid's team) in the Western Conference Semifinals this postseason, it was no surprise that Kesler found a way to hound, hack at and frustrate McDavid during the entire series. It worked too. McDavid didn't have the kind of impact he would have liked and Edmonton was eliminated. That Kesler happened to get away with goaltender interference on a play in Game 5 doesn't sit well with the entire Oilers fanbase either.
15 Loves: Patrick Maroon
Another one of McDavid's teammates, Patrick Maroon was an unsuspecting surprise for the Edmonton Oilers and McDavid who needed a left winger when Milan Lucic struggled a bit throughout the past season offensively. Maroon stepped in on a low budget contract and scored almost 30 goals. He was on the receiving end of some of McDavid's handy work. The two meshed like glue and Maroon, like Lucic, was known to stand up for McDavid if a player or two thought it was wise to rough up the superstar center. Maroon couldn't have asked for a better outcome either. Cast away by Anaheim, Maroon wound up playing with one of the best players in the world and will receive a nice big raise come his next contract. He's a success story that McDavid is more than happy to be a part of.
14 Hates: Sidney Crosby
The arguably best player in hockey we were talking about when McDavid was asked who he wouldn't want to play with is Sidney Crosby. Perhaps it isn't fair to say that McDavid hates him because the two haven't had any real heat since McDavid entered the NHL, but the competitive level between the two is likely off the charts.
Crosby is still winning the internal debate in hockey over who's better and that probably drives McDavid. McDavid won the scoring race this year and that probably doesn't sit well with Crosby. The Pittsburgh Penguins are still in the NHL playoffs and the Edmonton Oilers aren't. Anyone as competitive as McDavid has to see that he needs to have somewhat of a distaste for Crosby if he ever wants to be the best in the NHL. Dismantling Crosby is the only way to do it.
13 Loves: Dylan Strome
Dylan Strome is a budding forward for the Arizona Coyotes. Before that, he was a forward for the Erie Otters where he and McDavid played together as a dynamic duo. The two took the Otters deep into the OHL playoffs and to this day still, keep up with one another. McDavid noted he tries to keep in touch with Strome every other day or so and they're rooting for each other to do well in their respective NHL careers. These are the type of friendships and bonds players make as they're working their way toward the NHL. McDavid clearly is a superstar, but he wants to be supportive of Strome getting there too. Very few things, including some competitive matchups against each other now, will take that away from them.
12 Hates: Dylan Larkin
Dylan Larkin and his head start at last year's NHL All-Star game are the only thing standing in the way of Connor McDavid being recognized as the NHL's fastest skater in history. When McDavid won the competition in 2016-17 at the NHL Skills Competition, he was asked to try and beat the mark set by Larkin a year earlier. He couldn't do it. It was mostly due to how tired he was having just run that's year's race mere minutes before and that he wasn't provided the same moving head start Larkin was. McDavid should be the fastest skater in the NHL and pretty much everyone knows he is. It's just not documented that way and McDavid needs to take Larkin on in a one-on-one skate-off to prove it.
11 Loves: Cam Talbot
McDavid is the Edmonton Oilers MVP. He's going to win both the Art Ross Trophy and the Hart Trophy at this year's NHL Awards. Some people looked at Cam Talbot as the Oilers runner-up and almost as equally important to the team's success this past year. One of those people was Connor McDavid. McDavid realizes that without Talbot backstopping the Oilers to many a win, the team wouldn't have been nearly as successful as they were. Talbot was overlooked as a nominated goaltender at this year's awards but that isn't any less reason to give him his due. McDavid looks to do so at every possible opportunity. He truly understands Talbot's value to the team and it's possible he might make some salary sacrifices to ensure Talbot is Edmonton's long-term goaltender of the future.
10 Hates: Patrick O'Sullivan
Patrick O'Sullivan used to be an NHL player. Ironically, there was a time in which he played for the Edmonton Oilers. Unlike McDavid, O'Sullivan wasn't terribly good and fizzled out of the NHL. During the 2016-17 NHL season, around the third game, the Oilers struggled mightily against the Buffalo Sabres. The team wasn't happy with their performance and moved an NHL-mandated day off to work on some things in practice. It wasn't McDavid's call, but he did support the decision. That didn't stop O'Sullivan from blaming McDavid, reprimanding him for blowing off the rules and calling him too young a captain and not fitting of the position. The Oilers rebounded and did extremely well the rest of the way and O'Sullivan looked foolish for his remarks. McDavid took the criticism in stride, but I'm sure he didn't appreciate it.
9 Loves: Leon Draisaitl
We mentioned that McDavid might want to help ensure that Cam Talbot stays with the Oilers long-term. There is another player who has gotten so close to McDavid, the two might work together to create contracts that help the Oilers' organization moving forward. That player is Leon Draisaitl and the two have formed arguably the best one-two punch in the NHL. They've become extremely close and both realize they'd like to play their foreseeable NHL future together. The only way to do that is ensuring the team can afford to keep both players and build a winning roster around them. When you're willing to sacrifice your own personal pay to stick with a player long-term, you know you've found a special friend and teammate. That is what these two are to each other.
8 Hates: Bryson Cianfrone
McDavid has a tendency to lose his temper. That said, he rarely lets his frustrations take him off his game and unlike players like Sidney Crosby, McDavid is not known to be a whiner. He takes his frustrations out on his opponents by having productive games. Still, one player got under his skin in the OHL a few years back. That player was Bryson Cianfrone and it led to McDavid and Cianfrone fighting, which also led to McDavid breaking his hand and missing a good chunk of the season that year. It's one thing to get into a scrap with someone. It's another thing to miss a ton of games because of that scrap. McDavid was looked at as having made a poor decision, but some of that has to be on Cianfrone who clearly got the better of McDavid that day.
7 Loves: Darnell Nurse
When the Erie Otters met the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds in the OHL playoffs, Darnell Nurse versus Connor McDavid became one of the central storylines in that series. McDavid's Otters moved on in the playoffs and eliminated the Greyhounds, but a mutual respect was developed between the two players. Fast forward a few years and now the two are teammates on the Oilers.
Furthering the Nurse and McDavid friendship, when Taylor Hall was traded from Edmonton, McDavid lost his roommate. The result was that Nurse and the Oilers' captain moved in together and have become extremely close housemates. Not only does Nurse play a rough game, standing up for McDavid on occasion, but the two buddies are trying to help take the Oilers to the promised land together and win a Stanley Cup. They may just do it.
6 McDavid Hates: Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Kesler from the Anaheim Ducks already made the list. It was in part because of the way he played against McDavid in their 2016-17 playoff series. Another player on the Ducks team who McDavid isn't fond of is Ryan Getzlaf. The reason? Getzlaf single-handedly took it to the Oilers and led an unbelievable comeback in Game 5 of their playoff series, helping the Ducks score three consecutive goals in under three minutes. Getzlaf is also known as a player who's done well with NHL referees and getting away with penalties that are not called as infractions. That happened repeatedly in the Ducks and Oilers series which significantly reduced McDavid's ability to have more of an impact. Getzlaf targeted McDavid and got away with a ton of cheap play. McDavid didn't really whine, but the coaches did and you could tell McDavid was biting his tongue.
5 Loves: Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr was once a great defenseman for the Boston Bruins. In fact, he's widely regarded as one of the best defensemen ever to play the game of hockey. His career was cut short due to injury and since his retirement has moved into the player-agent business. Orr represents some of the best young players in the game, including McDavid. When the two met, McDavid and his family knew right away Orr was their guy. They didn't look at any other agents or firms and since working together Orr and McDavid have become extremely close. McDavid has learned a lot about dealing with the pressures of being a phenom and who to handle the game and the demands that come from it. Orr has learned to love McDavid and is there to help him along his path to stardom.
4 Hates: Nazem Kadri
Few people make McDavid look bad. Nazem Kadri did in a game this past season where the Edmonton Oilers squared-off against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kadri was hounding McDavid all night long, playing cheap and dirty and getting away with most of it since the referees put away the whistles that game. To make matters worse, the game went to overtime and Kadri slipped by McDavid on a breakaway and scored to give the Maple Leafs the victory. McDavid didn't complain, but you knew he wasn't pleased that Kadri got away with so many fouls and it cost the Oilers the game. It's not something McDavid will soon forget and I'm sure motivation he'll keep in the back of his mind each time these two teams meet up.
3 Loves: Wayne Gretzky
If you're going to be compared to anyone, the best player to ever play the game of hockey is a nice measuring stick. McDavid idolized Wayne Gretzky as a kid and now that McDavid is with the Edmonton Oilers organization, the two get to work together regularly. One of the reasons Gretzky was hired by the Oilers a couple years ago was to be a sounding board for McDavid as he navigates the waters that are the NHL and being its top offensive talent. Gretzky played that role for years and he took hockey to new heights. The two have developed a close bond and you can see how much Gretzky admires McDavid's talents. It's a true role reversal and one of the coolest relationships in the NHL today.
2 Hates: Brandon Manning
The Philadelphia Flyer holds a special place for McDavid on his wall of hate. In McDavid's rookie year, the two were involved in an incident where, while skating hard for a loose puck, McDavid lost an edge and went crashing into the boards. Manning's full weight went right in with him and McDavid ended up requiring shoulder surgery and missed a ton of the season. McDavid took the high road and spoke to media saying it wasn't Manning's fault even though many thought it was. The following season, when the Oilers met the Flyers, Manning told McDavid on the ice that he purposely injured McDavid which set McDavid off. He spent the entire game going after Manning and tried to fight him. McDavid spoke to the media again after that game and called Manning's actions the most tasteless thing he'd ever witnessed in his hockey career.
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