The sting of a playoff exit is hard for Connor McDavid to shake. The Oilers captain needs some time following a series defeat before he can see how the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs shake out.
“Probably not watching the series right after, but I’ll pick it back up as it closer and closer to the [Stanley Cup],” McDavid told NBC Sports on Monday as he attended the annual BioSteel hockey camp.
Success has eluded McDavid and the Oilers. Edmonton has one postseason win since reaching the Second Round in 2017 and the raising of the Stanley Cup is no fun when you’re not involved.
“Growing up, watching the day when the Cup is handed out is always a fun day when you’re a kid,” McDavid said. “The day the Cup’s handed out when you’re in the league is never necessarily a great day if you’re not lifting it. It’s obviously something that everyone wants to do. We’re no different in Edmonton. We want to bring a Cup to the fans of Edmonton and win a Cup for ourselves. We’ve got a lot of work to do and it’s a long way down the road. The first step is coming up here in a few weeks when we get together for camp.”
We spoke to Connor McDavid about his summer training, the Oilers’ busy offseason, the NHL potentially going back to the Olympics, and more.
Q. What are you looking to get out of these types of summer camps?
CONNOR MCDAVID: “The main thing I’m trying to get out of here is feeling good about where my game’s at and measuring myself up against some other guys, if I need to tweak something or everything’s good. That’s always the biggest thing.”
Q. We’ve seen how high of a level you can play at for six seasons now. What do you feel is left to improve in your game at 24 going on 25?
MCDAVID: “I think just rounding the game out, being solid defensively, winning face-offs, and all the type of things that you need to do to win a championship. That’s obviously my only focus and also trying to figure out what I can do, what I can be better at to help my team do that.”
Q. It’s been two years since your knee injury. What, if anything, are you doing differently in your summer training?
MCDAVID: “No, I don’t think it’s changed. I was definitely introduced to some great people during that rehab. I still lean on them. It was rehab back then, now it’s a little bit more performance-based, which I like. I’ve been able to add on to your summer routine just from getting to know some of those people through that rehab process.”
Q. How has your offseason training evolved? Are there things you’re doing now that you didn’t do your first few NHL seasons?
MCDAVID: “I don’t think I’ve taken many things out, I’ve just added things. When you first get into the league and come through junior, you don’t really understand how it really is a full-time job. People don’t really understand that and how much work it takes. They only get to see the finished product on the ice, but there’s so many things that go into it. Just being a little more mature, understanding the game a little bit better has allowed me to add some things in and focus on things that I can improve on.”
Q. As captain and one of the offensive leaders of the Oilers, how hard do you take it when seasons end like they have for you guys?
CONNOR MCDAVID: “No one wants to lose and everyone wants to win a Cup. Anytime you don’t get to do that it’s obviously disappointing. We thought we had a better team the last two years and could have gone a little further than we did. Obviously, very disappointing and that should motivate everybody, and it certainly motivates me to get back to camp and make sure we get off to a good start and see what can happen.”
Q. Given how the last few seasons have ended, Ken [Holland] was pretty aggressive this summer in trying to improve areas on the roster. What do you think about the additions of Duncan [Keith], [Zach] Hyman, [Cody] Ceci, bringing back Tyson [Barrie], Darnell [Nurse], among other moves?
MCDAVID: “He’s had a very busy summer, and I love all the moves. Bringing in a guy like Keith, his winning ways and the culture that he’s coming from is only going to be good things for our team. He’ll be great for us in the room. He’s got lots of game left. We just played them in the [2020 playoff] bubble and he was great. Bringing in a guy like Hyman is great for us as well. He works so hard, he’s got more skill than people realize. His ability to just play is unbelievable.
“There’s lot of guys that we brought in. Kenny’s done his job for the summer and it’s our job to put the group together and make sure that we’re all on the same page.”
Q. Does Ken go to you for any input before he makes certain moves, just to get your thoughts on potential changes or guys he might be targeting?
MCDAVID: “Kenny such a good GM. He’s built such a good relationship with his players. He certainly keeps guys in the loop — it doesn’t mean he’s asking for what we’re necessarily thinking. He definitely does a good job of keeping us in the loop. I know we all appreciate that a lot.”
Q. It’s sounding like the NHL is very close to having a deal worked out to get you guys back at the Olympics. How important is Olympic participation and the chance to win gold to you and your personal goals?
MCDAVID: “It’d be right up there with winning the Stanley Cup. Having the ability to play for your country at the Olympics and a best-on-best tournament, there’s nothing better than that. Being able to do that would be something to check off of the bucket list. And if we’re lucky enough to win a gold medal, [it’d be] so special.”