Say the name Connor McDavid, and without question, people will immediately come up with a few descriptions: Canadian, exceptional, quiet, team player, and lightning-fast. But after digging deeper into the life of this Canadian hockey phenom, I’d say there are a few other descriptions.
Unwavering. Tenacious. Determined. And without a doubt, unstoppable. To say that he has some impressive stats is to state the obvious. But there seems to be something else that makes Connor McDavid the best player in the NHL. Read on to find out more.
As McDavid said, “It’s not how good you are; it’s how good you want to be.”
Connor McDavid Stats
I’d be a fool if I didn’t recognize McDavid’s many accomplishments over the years. Here are some highlights of his achievements. However, you will notice that there is no Stanley Cup — yet.
1.) At the minor midget level, during the 2011-12 season, he scored 209 points in 88 games with 79 goals and 130 assists. He was named the Greater Toronto Hockey League (GTHL) player of the year.
2.) He was granted an “Exceptional Player” status by Hockey Canada and thus was allowed to play in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) despite his junior status of 15 years young (the rule is 16 years). This made him the third player to achieve this status after Aaron Ekblad and John Tavares.
3.) He earned the OHL Rookie of the Month twice.
4.) He won the Emms Family Award thanks to his 41 assists in his first season as an OHL rookie.
5.) He garnered a spot on the OHL First Rookie team and became a finalist for CHL Rookie of the Year.
6.) In the 2013-14 season, he won the William Hanley Trophy – given to the OHL’s most sportsmanlike player. He also won the Bobby Smith Trophy for being the OHL Scholastic Player of the Year in the same season.
7.) As captain of the Erie Otters, he would receive the Red Tilson Trophy for the OHL Player of the year and be named CHL player of the year.
8.) He would be the first overall pick by the Edmonton Oilers in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft.
9.) He was selected captain for Team North America at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey; this represents both Canada and the United States.
10.) On October 5, 2016, at age 19 years – and 266 days – he became the youngest captain selected in NHL history.
11.) He has won three gold medals for Team Canada – though he has yet to represent Canada in the Olympics.
12.) He has had three major injuries in his professional career, including a fractured bone in his right hand, a broken clavicle, and a torn PCL with a fracture in the front tibia of his left knee (all of which he has recovered from).
13.) On July 5, 2017, he signed an 8-year extension with the Edmonton Oilers for $100 million. This made him the highest-paid player in NHL history.
14.) He won the Hart Memorial Trophy (MVP) in 2017.
The Connor McDavid Story: The Beginning
On January 13, 1997, Connor McDavid was born in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada. His father, Brian, was a youth hockey coach. As a result, he started skating at the age of three and was introduced to hockey at age four against older children, no less.
Alas, his hometown, Newmarket, didn’t like the idea of a six-year-old playing against older children, so they enrolled him in Aurora, where he was able to play with 9-year-olds. His father would one day become his coach of the York-Simcoe Express, where they won four Ontario Minor Hockey Association championships together.
In 2011, McDavid decided to leave the York-Simcoe Express to join the Toronto Marlboros. This decision would set him on the path to bigger and better things, for only four years later, he would be drafted in 2015 by the Edmonton Oilers as the first overall pick.
A lot of people ask how he got to be so good? How did he develop his lightning-fast skating and the ability to go through three players at once? Well, he developed his techniques at age 12 when he began training with what is known as the Power Edge Pro (PEP), an on-ice training system designed by Joe Quinn.
Watch the clip below to see his impressive skills using this system.
Connor McDavid Video
The Teenage Years: Never Take Anything for Granted
Connor McDavid seemed to lack the awareness of how good he was as a youth and teen. Even when he played for the Premier Elite Athletes’ Collegiate (PEAC), a private school in Toronto for elite athletes.
McDavid joined the PEAC when he was around 12 years old. He played under founder and, at the time, owner Neil Doctorow. Doctorow recalls a moment when McDavid was in his third year playing for them when Connor was scanning the roster of their opposing team on a bus trip to a game.
He felt intimidated by the star players they were about to go up against, and he asked, “Do you think we’re going to win?” Doctorow responded, “You’re Connor McDavid. What are you talking about?” Doctorow was astounded that this kid had no idea how better he was than the kids on the opposing roster.
He would score six goals that game.
Work Ethic Stands Out
As he was still school-aged, his time spent at PEAC would also involve classes. McDavid preferred classes that had a right or wrong answer; he didn’t like classes that concerned subjectivity, such as art. His communication and art teacher Deirdre Quinn remembers his work ethic.
Despite not liking these required classes and being told that he was the next big thing in hockey, he put the work in, knowing that anything wasn’t certain, including a career in the NHL. He knew that at 15 years old, his job was to go to school and get good marks.
When asked by his teacher to do a video assignment of an autobiography or a biography, she knew he wouldn’t do a project on himself. He was much too humble. It’s no surprise he picked Sidney Crosby, with video highlights and captions to tell the story of his favorite player.
After three years at PEAC, he was declared an exceptional player by Hockey Canada. This meant that he didn’t have to wait until he was 16 to join the OHL. He would be scouted by Sherry Bassin and selected first overall at the OHL draft.
Bassin noted that his talent went beyond his speed and goal-scoring. It was the character he had, the way he was humble in his after-goal celebrations, and mostly how he treated his teammates. He knew it was a team effort, and he showed that regularly when he would consistently feed his teammates pucks so they too would score.
Never one to presume, McDavid even showed up to a summer scrimmage with the Erie Otters not dressed up in his future team’s gear. Bassin questioned this, to which McDavid replied, “Mr. Bassin, I haven’t made the team yet.”
Mr. Bassin’s response was, “If you don’t make the team, I’m moving to China.” Of course, he made the team, and thus the move from Newmarket to Erie, Pennsylvania, was the next big step on his way to the NHL. In Erie, he lived with Bob Catalde and his family; they would be his host family, otherwise known in hockey as billets.
According to Catalde, McDavid rarely broke any of his house rules. If anything, he was a typical teenager who stayed up too late, resembled a zombie in the morning, and avoided vegetables at all costs. He would spend his free time watching TV and playing ping-pong and knee hockey with Catalde’s son, Nico.
The bond McDavid developed with the entire family meant that the Catlade’s would become a surrogate family. When Nico would play in international tournaments in Toronto, McDavid would go to watch, trying his best to be incognito with a hoodie pulled up over his head. He was always recognized.
McDavid is a man of routine and superstition. And it didn’t take long for him and the Cataldes to develop a routine of their own. The teen would get up at the same time every day, and he would eat a breakfast of eight scrambled eggs, a plate of organic strawberries, and a wholegrain bagel. Lunch would be a seasoned chicken breast with a side of quinoa and brown rice.
His dedicated and hard-working healthy routine was working for him. His final season with the Erie Otters earned him 120 points in 47 games. But what may be more impressive is how at 17-years-old, despite his distaste for the spotlight, he had the insight to insist that children be ushered to the front of the line for any autographs he gave out.
His reasoning, he was a little boy once, too.
With all of his skill, he was unstoppable. Or at least he seemed to be, that is until disaster struck.
An Almost End to a Barely-Started Career
In the 2018-19 season, the Edmonton Oilers were wrapping up their last game of the season against the Calgary Flames. McDavid was on a tear, and Calgary Flames defenceman Mark Giordano was chasing him from behind, where he used his stick to try and stop the speedy forward.
This devastating reach would trip the centerman causing him to crash into the Flames’ goal post. The result was a torn PCL in his left knee and a break in the front tibia. The doctor insisted that he have surgery; it was the only option. In fact, the surgery was already booked.
But something about missing the entire 2019-20 season didn’t sit well with McDavid, so he reached out to another doctor for a second opinion. He was given a choice to rehab the injury, but the road wasn’t going to be easy, and there was no guarantee.
Go to Rehab
He chose the rehab option. Eventually, it would require him to work 10 hours each day, seven days a week, to heal his body. Initially, he would devote two hours each day locked in a hyperbaric chamber flexing his quad muscle for 10 seconds on, followed by 10 seconds off.
This repetitive flexing is done to try and save the muscle. When the doctors felt he was ready to take some weight on his knee, he worked in the pool, building up his strength. Finally, after hours spent in this routine of rehabilitation, the fibers began to reattach.
Through his therapy, he recovered faster than anybody would ever imagine. His return would tally 97 points in 64 games. If that isn’t grit, determination, and just plain unstoppable, then I don’t know what is.
Watch his story in the one-hour documentary, Whatever it Takes, if you’d like to know more about his remarkable recovery. Or, at the very least, check out the clip below that summarizes his career and shows some scenes from the documentary at the end.
Connor McDavid: Then to Now Video
Connor McDavid Fun Facts
1.) He grew up a Toronto Maple Leaf fan.
2.) McDavid met his girlfriend, Lauren Kyle, by accident when they both arrived at the wrong party for a friend’s birthday.
3.) His girlfriend designed his house.
4.) McDavid loves black licorice.
5.) He has a miniature Bernedoodle named Leonard (Lenny).
6.) If he could have a superpower, he would choose to fly.
7.) When he was 16, he received a call from The Great One (Wayne Gretzky) to congratulate him.
8.) He was in a Brett Kissel (a fellow Canadian) country music video with more Canadians, including the band Walk of the Earth and his dog Lenny. The song is called “A Few Good Stories.”
9.) One of his most significant moments so far is getting to play against Sidney Crosby.
10.) He loves the TV show “Friends.”
11.) He does not like spicy food.
I don’t believe that when Connor McDavid first set out to play hockey, his thoughts were on being the best. He approaches the game as a team player, one who doesn’t consider himself the best because one can always strive to be better.
While there is no doubt he will continue to amaze us, Wayne Gretzky commented on the all-star player, saying, “It wouldn’t surprise me if he gets more than 100 points. Just to show people he’s capable of doing it.” But I have a feeling he’s got that and a whole lot more in the years to come.
By Danielle L’Ami
Danielle is a Canadian writer and avid Habs Fan, despite living in Leaf’s nation. Like Connor McDavid, she too is a lover of black licorice and the TV show “Friends.” If she could have one superpower, she would choose teleportation. That way, she could travel the world instantly, including seeing all her Habs’ home games any time she wanted.
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