My original plan was to cover Connor McDavid for large portions of the season both at home and on the road. Unfortunately, after he was injured in November, I had to amend those plans and attended fewer games where the Oilers were the visitors. Overall, it was thrilling to watch him evolve from a talented but raw rookie at the beginning to one of the most skilled and dynamic players in the NHL by the end.
Here are a few of my favorite moments from the season:
Most Memorable Events
I travelled to Fort Lauderdale for the NHL draft, and watched as he was chosen by the Edmonton Oilers with the first pick. Seconds before it happened, he turned to his mom and dad and said, “I think I’m going to throw up.
Erie Otters Awards Banquet
In June of 2015, I travelled from Edmonton to Erie, Pa., to meet Connor and his parents at the OHL Otters’ end-of-season hockey banquet. There were three things that struck me immediately that night: how he was revered and beloved by fans, teammates and team executives; how poised he was for an 18-year-old, and how remarkably nice his parents, Brian and Kelly, are.
Oilers Rookie Showcase
The Oilers along with other western Canadian teams suited up for a rookie showcase in Penticiton British Columbia
Training and Outings
NHLPA Rookie Showcase
After a long, hard summer of training, Connor enjoyed one of his final care-free days as an amateur on Aug. 31 when he had his first official pro rookie card shot at a rookie showcase staged in Toronto by the NHL Players’ Association. For a few hours at least, he got to goof around, hang out with friends and former teammates, and even had his mug shot captured by EA Sports for NHL 16.
Gary Roberts Training
In July, I had the good fortunate to spend a morning with fitness guru Gary Roberts as he helped train Connor, Steven Stamkos, Phil Kessel and other NHL players at a facility in southern Ontario. For four years, Roberts and McDavid worked together to transform Connor from a skinny teenager into an elite pro athlete..
First Road Trip
After two tough games against rugged opponents to start the season, Connor scored his first NHL goal in the Oilers’ third game in Dallas against the Stars on Oct. 13. It was a nifty tip-in of a shot by Andrej Sekera.
First Game against Toronto and his First Game back
On Feb. 2, 2016, In his first game back after following a serious injury, Connor electrified the hockey world with a spectacular goal in the first period against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
In the first game he ever played against his hometown Maple Leafs, Connor had the first five-point game of his career. After scoring two goals and adding three assists in a pounding of Toronto on Feb. 11, the crowd at Rexall Place sang to him.
Last game at Rexall place
In the last game played at Rexall Place, Connor had a power-play goal and two assists in a 6-2 Edmonton victory over the Canucks on April 6. After the game, Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier visited him in the Oilers’ dressing room, and then the rookie joined them in a spectacular tribute of the arena the team had called its home since 1974.
McDavid vs Eichel
In his first head-to-head matchup with Jack Eichel, Connor scored 17 seconds into the March 1 game in Buffalo, and then netted the winner in overtime in front of his family. The Sabres fans booed him loudly at the start, but he silenced them by the end.