McDavid may be a generational talent, but NHL must work to maximize his star power given small market, reserved personalitySergei Belski/USA TODAY Sports
The Oilers have advanced to their first Western Conference Finals since ’06 after beating the Flames on Thursday, and NHL fans are “watching the emergence of an all-time great” this postseason with the play of Oilers C Connor McDavid, according to ESPN’s Kevin Weekes. McDavid is “box office material, he’s the guy you pay to go and watch.” ESPN’s John Barr said, “McDavid is undeniably one of the game’s young superstars, but he plays in Edmonton, not exactly a high-profile market and he has a reserved personality. Can the league fully maximize his star power given that combination?” Weekes pointed to the integration of “tech and social,” arguing there is a “way to continue to really tether all these different platforms to highlight and showcase what he’s doing.” Weekes added the NHL “can do a great job” of marketing McDavid , as there are a “lot more assets to be able to do that, certainly in partnership with us at the Walt Disney Company and some of the other league partners that we have.” Weekes: “People pay to go and watch Connor McDavid. This is one of the best athletes going right now.”“SportsCenter,” ESPN, 5/26).
GENERATIONAL PLAYER: THE HOCKEY NEWS’ Mike Stephens wrote for years, fans and pundits alike have “operated under a previously established conception of just how much one player can influence the outcome of a hockey game.” However, McDavid is “completely re-writing that, breaking new ground in terms of one’s individual ability within a predominantly team-based sport, and dragging the Oilers, and the game itself, to new heights in the process.” McDavid is “in a league of his own.” Stephens: “The term ‘generational’ is one we tend to throw around far too often in player evaluations.” But what McDavid is “evolving into at the moment is, by definition, a once-in-a-generation player” (SI.com, 5/26).
BREAKING THE SPORT: TSN.ca’s Travis Yost wrote McDavid is “breaking hockey as we know it.” Yost: “When was the last time we’ve seen a player dominate game after game the way McDavid has this postseason?” His play has “forced us to reimagine how much a star player can carry a team in the NHL.” That is “no slight to the rest of the Oilers.” It is “reality.” It is the “type of question we tend to ask about NBA legends like Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, or LeBron James.” Yost: “Not a hockey player” (TSN.ca, 5/25).
LET’S TALK: McDavid’s popularity and its impact on the NHL was a big topic on Thursday’s SBJ Twitter Spaces talkwhich featured Bleacher Report’s Abbey Mastracco, Daily Faceoff’s Frank Seravelli and Sportsnet’s Luke Fox, as well as SBJ staffers Alex Silverman and Austin Karp (SBJ).