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Are the Oilers Chasing McDavid Away By Hiring “His People”?

The Edmonton Oilers are bringing in people McDavid knows and while that may be a plan, there’s a chance that plan backfires.

Connor McDavid hasn’t hinted he’s leaving the Edmonton Oilers when his contract is up. There’s been no indication he’s asked for a trade. McDavid is looking to win the Stanley Cup with the Oilers and do it with the players he’s gone to war with over the past number of seasons. What happens in a couple of years when the Oilers either do or don’t win in anyone’s guess, but the Oilers are doing their best to try and limit the odds he considers any option but re-signing with the team.

With that in mind, McDavid doesn’t want to be part of the hiring and firing process. There aren’t reports he’s made any kind of demands. He’s not pouting about systems or ice time. In fact, he’s the first to say that his play needs to be better.

That hasn’t stopped the Oilers from bringing in people McDavid knows, likely in the hopes that a comfortable working and playing environment will be the key to keeping him long-term.

The Oilers Are Awkwardly Trying to Make McDavid Comfortable

In part because there’s a history there, Jeff Jackson was hired as CEO and Kris Knoblauch brought in as the new head coach. Both know (or knew) McDavid well. The only problem is, early indications are that instead of making McDavid comfortable with the hires, the captain is uncomfortable with the narrative that he’s pulling the strings on these moves. He’s being pegged as a player getting preferential treatment, and that’s the last thing he wants.

TSN’s Ryan Rishaug was a guest on OverDrive and confirmed that Jackson (McDavid’s former agent) said McDavid was not consulted when Jay Woodcroft was fired and the captain’s former Erie Otter’s coach (Kris Knoblauch) was hired. Rishaug explained, “…bottom line, Connor McDavid is not consulted on these big organizational decisions because he doesn’t want to be. He’s not brought into the process. He’s not consulted. He’s not in the room to make the decision. He wants to focus on hockey.”

Connor McDavid Edmonton Oilers

Still, the idea that the Oilers are being loaded up with McDavid’s guys is out there, and it’s partially true. There’s no coincidence that these names have a link to McDavid, nor is anyone hiding that the Oilers are aware of it and owner Darryl Katz is hoping this entices No. 97 to sign another deal. The Oilers are playing the odds. On paper, it’s not a terrible idea.

The Oilers Are Worried About McDavid Leaving

Rishaug added, “What this speaks of is an organization who looking to the future is obviously really worried about potentially losing Connor McDavid one day. For sure they are. Why wouldn’t they be?” The best solution to all of this is winning, but the way the season has gone for the Oilers, they can’t count on that happening. Yes, they are playing better of late and many still believe they make the playoffs and could go on a run, but being Stanley Cup favorites now is not a good bet like it was before the season began.

If the Oilers can’t promise the best team, what can they offer McDavid? A family. Friends. Colleagues he likes and respects. There’s no salary cap on bringing those types of players into the organization, so the Oilers are doing just that.

What If McDavid Doesn’t Like the Picture Being Painted?

There has been a lot of chatter that McDavid is actually pretty pissed about the fact people think he’s behind all of this. He doesn’t like the idea that good people are being fired because his buddies are getting jobs. That’s why he was so quick to say he knows the narrative and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. All he wants to do is play hockey and win.

What happens if this narrative continues? Even worse, what happens if the Oilers wind up being much less successful this season than most insiders projected? First, some fans will contend it was the changes. Second, others will say it was catering to McDavid that led to some of the issues (even if that isn’t true) Eventually, if McDavid doesn’t like the storyline, he may decided to get away from it.

If that’s the case, he’ll have the option in a couple of years to explore the market and if he leaves, the Oilers are left with names that were supposed to keep McDavid around, but ultimately motivated his exit.

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