BLOG: McDavid and key Oilers players build a winning culture

EDMONTON, Alta. – To the Captain Connor McDavidthe excitement of the new NHL campaign rests on hopes of building on last season’s success.

Although making it to the Western Conference Finals could be seen as a big step forward for the Edmonton Oilers despite a four-game sweep at the hands of eventual Stanley Cup champion Avalanche. Colorado, it will all be for nothing if the club is not able to get back to the heights of their best post-season result since 2006.

Nothing is easy in a league as talented as this, and this group has first-hand experience of the struggles of maintaining success year after year if you go back four seasons.

“There are a lot of expectations this year, both outside and in the dressing room,” McDavid said after the captain’s practice on Monday. “Obviously last year was a step forward, but we have to come back here and start all over again building on what we achieved last year.

“Nothing is free in this league, we certainly know that, so I’m just happy to get things done.”

The Oilers captain is back in Edmonton well before training camp with nearly every other member of the Blue & Orange to take part in some informal skates and build team cohesion ahead of the official start of camp later next week. .

The benefits of getting to work early in the new season can pay off in the first few weeks with a strong start. The Oilers went 9-1-0 in their first 10 games last year, which gave a lot of early momentum but also served as a buffer for a tough 15-game streak where the club went 2-11-2 in December and January.

“It’s great to see everyone and just have some time before the season just to be out there with the guys,” McDavid said. “You saw today – a long scrum that just got everyone up.

“Camp is fast this year, so it’s important that everyone gets up straight away. Starts are always important, we talk about that every year, so we really focus on the start of the season. You see that just engagement with the guys that show up.”

Video: RAW | Connor McDavid 09.12.22

With many rookies also participating in informal skates ahead of the start of rookie camp and the Young Star Classic on Wednesday in Penticton, McDavid spoke about the importance of getting young players into the fold early and building relationships. early in hopes that they can make an impact in years to come, or even, this coming season.

“I think it’s just trying to connect with everyone,” McDavid said. “You never know who the guy will be, do you? It could be an American Hockey League mid-season call-up, and I think the guys who go down need to know that their chance can come at any time and they need to come and fulfill a role and do their job here.

“It takes everyone. It takes a whole organization and it’s nice to have everyone under one roof for a little while here.”

The core Oilers who missed the playoffs the season after hitting 16-17 highs — including McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent Hopkins and Nurse Darnell – know only too well that complacency is stifling Edmonton’s progress towards winning the Stanley Cup.

“We really only won one game more than in 2017,” McDavid said. “Obviously it feels like we were closer last year than the year before, but this is just a win. We still have a long way to go, we know that, and it takes everything. the world and it takes the whole season.”

The core group has a lot more experience under their belt than four seasons ago, as well as many new and valuable contributors on and off the ice added to the group, such as Zach Hyman, Evander Kanenewly acquired netminder Jack Campbell and more.

The expectation in the Oilers locker room to compete and win the Stanley Cup is increasingly becoming a core belief, and it’s championed by key players who have had their fair share of successes and failures in Edmonton together.

“I think it becomes more of a culture,” McDavid said.

“It’s the same core guys every year who set the tempo, set the pace and kind of lead the way. I think that’s probably the biggest difference.”