The next face of hockey?

Credit: The Brock Press/Christy Mitchell

Credit: The Brock Press/Christy Mitchell

When Connor McDavid steps onto the ice, you instantly notice him. If you are an individual who knows nothing about major junior ice hockey, you would still be able to pick him out of the bunch. He’s 17 going on 18, and has 49 points in 17 games in the 2014/2015 season. He’s a +33. His two linemates, sophomore Dylan Strome and rookie Alex DeBrincat, are second and fourth in OHL scoring. McDavid occupies the number one spot.

It isn’t too frequently that scouts will miss on players of McDavid’s calibre and aptitude. They accurately projected that Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin would become two of the NHL’s biggest superstars for many years, which they are. To the many aficionados of the sport, exchange Sidney’s number eight with the number nine, add ten years, and that’s the only difference between him and McDavid, who wears number 97 for Erie.

While it may be easy to see the distinctive imperfections in the playing styles of present-day superstars such as Crosby and Ovechkin, it’s virtually unmanageable to nitpick those flaws at such a young age. The greatest struggle for a scout is to determine how that player will develop in 5-10 years from being drafted. Even when the NHL’s head of central scouting bureau Dan Marr was asked to offer a few illustrations of McDavid’s weaknesses, he retorted with an answer that it was out of McDavid’s control. “I don’t know – he’s

“I don’t know – he’s 17 going on 18?” said Marr. “He’s not physically mature yet, so he will continue to get physically stronger.”

For those that appeared at the new Meridian Centre for Nov. 6’s matchup between the OHL’s top-ranked Erie Otters and the struggling Niagara IceDogs witnessed a side of McDavid that isn’t really seen. He was held off of the score sheet for the first time all season and Erie was handed their first loss. While the media waited to speak with the 17-year-old post-game, he had walked out of his dressing room, immediately pinpointed his parents and went to give them hugs as they were awaiting to support their child after a harsh loss for the OHL’s leading scorer.  He still had a great showing, but in his eyes, he could’ve been 100x the player he was that night. He has high standards, which makes him the athlete that he is today, and the superstar that he’ll become in his forthcoming NHL career.

McDavid is like a fish in a fishbowl. He’s always on the inside with everyone looking in on him. He encounters the media every day. He may be as talented as they come, but he’s a 17-year-old and he isn’t invincible. He has to seek out guidance from present NHL players in order to deal with the hardships and the baggage that comes along with his celebrity status. There is no stronger bond than family, so he also reaches out to his older brother, Cameron McDavid, quite a bit.

“My older brother Cam has meant the world to me”, said McDavid. “I haven’t seen him in a while, he’s been busy with his stuff at school. He’s in the Ivey program at Western, so he’s been pretty busy, but I owe a lot to him.  He’s always there for me.”

Ever since McDavid was a toddler, he hated losing.  Former NHL veteran, Jay McKee, who currently serves as Assistant Coach for the Erie Otters, has lost his fair share of games during his career. When we asked him how he approaches McDavid after a loss, he showed no concern.  “Even if you go up to the NHL level, there’s no player that likes to lose”, McKee told the press. “There’s nothing specific we would have to say to Connor, they know how they feel, we’ll look over game tape, and we’ll go over that and break it down for them.”

The following night, McDavid recorded three assists against the Sarnia Sting. He went on to record one goal and three more assists the next day against the Saginaw Spirit. He may not like to lose, but he doesn’t let it affect his game. He uses it to his advantage, and shows his revenge through dominant play.

Sidney Crosby was drafted first overall back in 2005.

It’s now a new decade, and an innovative star is emerging.  According to Marr, “the only part of his game that has yet to come is the part that experience and the physical development will fill in.”

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