McDavid on NHL going right into the playoffs: ‘A fair season’s a full season’

McDavid on NHL going right into the playoffs: ‘A fair season’s a full season’

McDavid on NHL going right into the playoffs: ‘A fair season’s a full season’

Connor McDavid grew up idolizing Sidney Crosby.

On at least one issue, he’s at odds with his childhood hero.

A day after Crosby and Alex Ovechkin said they would be in favour of the NHL going right into the playoffs whenever the league gets the all-clear from public health and government officials in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, McDavid came down on the other side of the ledger.

“A fair season’s a full season,” the captain of the Edmonton Oilers said on a video conference call Friday. ”That’s what we’d obviously prefer.”

If the NHL were to go straight into its usual 16-team playoff format, the Oilers and Calgary Flames would be pitted against each other in a post-season Battle of Alberta for the first time since 1991.

While the potential matchup is mouth-watering, McDavid believes it would be a mistake to venture down that road without ramping things up beforehand.

“I don’t think we can just step into playoffs and Game 1 (have) Calgary come to Edmonton and have guys just run around killing each other (when we) haven’t played a game in two months,” added the 23-year-old, who sits second in the overall scoring race behind teammate Leon Draisaitl. “We want to keep guys healthy and we want to make sure that everyone’s up and ready to play some playoff hockey.”

The NHL, along with most sports leagues and tours, paused its season earlier this month amid the novel coronavirus outbreak that’s killed thousands worldwide, brought economies to their knees, and ushered in an era of social distancing and self-isolation.

Crosby and Ovechkin said in separate video conferences Thursday they wouldn’t have any qualms if the league went straight into the playoffs when it does eventually gets the green light.

“You try to get in as many games as you can,” said Crosby, who captains the Pittsburgh Penguins. ”But I wouldn’t mind starting right at the playoffs.”

Mileage on the body probably plays a part in the differing views.

At the time of the NHL’s pause, McDavid’s Oilers sat second in the Pacific Division with 83 points through 71 games. The 34-year-old Ovechkin’s Capitals occupied first in the Metropolitan Division with 90 points from 69 games, while the 32-year-old Crosby’s Penguins were four points back in third.

“We don’t want to play extra games,” said Ovechkin, Washington’s captain, before adding later to the other three players on his call: “I’d rather start playoffs right away. Sorry guys.”

Every team in the NHL has played at least 68 games, which deputy commissioner Bill Daly said last week in an interview with The Canadian Press constitutes “a meaningful season” in the league’s eyes.

There were a total of 189 contests left on the docket when the pause button was pressed, but each club is in a slightly different position.

Canucks captain Bo Horvat, for example, finds his team out of the Western Conference playoffs based on the standings with 78 points from 68 games. But Vancouver is slightly ahead of the Calgary Flames — 79 points from 70 games — for third place in the Pacific based on points percentage.

“To make it completely fair, you’d want to play regular-season games,” Horvat said. “It’s tough to make that call.”

Vegas Golden Knights netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, who like many NHLers is doing his best to stay in shape with limited resources at home, said on his video conference call he’d appreciate some time to work out the kinks.

“The biggest thing as a goalie is timing,” said the 35-year-old. “The speed of the game is something you have to catch up on.”

Calgary captain Mark Giordano said if the NHL does resume in time to salvage the season and playoffs, fans could be in for a treat.

“If we can ever get back to playing, I think this is going to be one of the best playoffs ever because every team’s gonna have all their guys healthy and ready to go,” said the 36-year-old. ”You’re truly going to be playing the best version of every team.”

The NHL organized the sometimes-awkward video conferences, with reporters submitting questions to the league beforehand. Representatives from each team in the Atlantic and Central divisions are scheduled to go early next week.

Giordano pitched an idea for 24-team playoffs post-COVID during his online session, but Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, who won the Stanley Cup in 2007, said during a separate call later Friday the NHL has to be careful with whatever it ultimately decides.

“You hear all these different ways of doing things,” said the 34-year-old. “Getting back on the ice would be a great thing to be able to finish the season out properly and make sure we protect the integrity of the game.

“You can’t just throw out some weird playoff format.”

Speaking of playoffs, the Flames-Oilers rivalry boiled over in January when Calgary’s Matthew Tkachuk delivered a couple of crunching checks on Edmonton’s Zack Kassian, who responded by jumping the winger to earn a two-game suspension.

“Both teams were in those playoff spots, and for a lot of my career, it wasn’t like that,” Giordano said. ”This is so much better. It’s so much better for the game and it’s a lot more fun. We’ve had some good ones.”

The teams also engaged in a line brawl that included goalies Mike Smith and Cam Talbot dropping the gloves in the next meeting.

“This year (the games) have been pretty wild,” McDavid said. ”Maybe we’ll even see them in the playoffs.”

Like many of the players, Edmonton’s superstar closed his video conference by tipping his hat to front-line health-care professionals as they continue to battle the coronavirus.

“What they’re doing is amazing,” McDavid said. ”The numbers that they’re dealing with is just crazy.

“A big thanks.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 27, 2020.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

NHL

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

Seniors in the 65-unit Piper Creek Lodge are among those waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations. (File photo by Advocate staff)
Central Alberta senior lodges anxiously waiting for COVID-19 vaccinations

“Should be at the front of the line, not the back of the line”

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alex Panetta
Economists “cautiously hopeful” for economic recovery in Alberta

Charles St. Arnaud says Alberta’s recovery will rebound along with roll-out of the COVID-19 vaccine

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw acknowledged that Friday would be one year since the first case of COVID-19 was identified in the province. (photography by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
Three more Red Deer COVID-19 deaths, 331 active cases in Alberta

Red Deer is down to 362 active cases of the virus

Caitlin Kraft, the sister of Jeffery Kraft, stands third from the left, holding a sign calling for the maximum sentence for Campbell, who is charged with manslaughter. (Photo by Paul Cowley)
UPDATED: Judge again rejects submission of 7-year sentence for slaying of Kraft

Tyler John Campbell charged with second-degree murder for December 2019 homicide

Hockey hall-of-fame legend Wayne Gretzky, right, watches the casket of his father, Walter Gretzky, as it is carried from the church during a funeral service in Brantford, Ont., Saturday, March 6, 2021. HE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky remembered as a man with a ‘heart of gold’ at funeral

The famous hockey father died Thursday at age 82 after battling Parkinson’s disease

Supporters rally outside court as Pastor James Coates of GraceLife Church is in court to appeal bail conditions, after he was arrested for holding day services in violation of COVID-19 rules, in Edmonton, Alta., on Thursday March 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
‘Law remains valid:’ Pastor accused of violating health orders to remain in jail

The Justice Centre for Constitutional Freedoms is representing the pastor

A decommissioned pumpjack is shown at a well head on an oil and gas installation near Cremona, Alta., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016. The Alberta Energy Regulator says it is suspending all of the licences held by an oil and gas producer with more than 2,200 wells and 2,100 pipelines after it failed to bring its operations into compliance. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Alberta Energy Regulator suspends licences of oil and gas producer that owes $67M

The company is being asked to comply with past orders to clean up historic spills and contamination

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds a press conference in Ottawa Friday, March 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Trudeau holds firm on premiers’ health-care funding demands, COVID-19 aid comes first

Premiers argue that the current amount doesn’t keep pace with yearly cost increases of about five per cent

Pictured here is Stettler’s Jenner Smith with a guide dog from Aspen Service Dogs. An online auction will be running soon to help raise funds for Jenner to receive his very own service dog later this year. Jenner, who is four years old, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019. photo submitted
An online auction is planned to raise funds for a service dog for a Stettler family

Jenner Smith, four, was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder in 2019

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Walter Gretzky, father of the Great One, dies at 82

Canada’s hockey dad had battled Parkinson’s disease and other health issues

This Dec. 2, 2020 photo provided by Johnson & Johnson shows vials of its Janssen subsidiary’s COVID-19 vaccine in the United States. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Johnson & Johnson via AP
Canada approves Johnson & Johnson’s 1-shot COVID-19 vaccine

It is the 4th vaccine approved in Canada and the 1st that requires just a single dose

Most Read