Connor McDavid is such a popular hockey player, it’s nearly impossible to find a hockey fan that doesn’t know who he is. What most fans will tell you is that he’s incredibly fast, unbelievably skilled, one of the best hockey players (if not the best) in the world and he’s gone through ups and down with injuries to become what he is today. But, how much does anyone really know about one of the best players in the NHL?
Granted, there’s only so much fans have a right to know about the athletes they follow. Too much information is not only a bit creepy, it also doesn’t leave much to the imagination. That said, there are some pretty cool facts about McDavid that might make you an even bigger fan.
#16. McDavid Grew Up a Maple Leafs Fan
Let’s get this one out of the way now… Years ago, when asked by Toronto Sun columnist Mike Zeisberger what he would think about playing for his hometown team, McDavid said, “Playing for the Leafs would be a dream come true. I can’t help it — I’ve cheered for them since I was a kid.”
Those comments have followed McDavid to this day. Every Toronto fan will tell you that when McDavid was drafted into the NHL, he was heartbroken. Some will still try to convince you that he’s destined to join the Maple Leafs when his contract with the Oilers expires. It’s not likely either of those things are true, but what is accurate is that McDavid grew up a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.
Talking about how his room was a shrine to his favorite team as a kid, “My childhood room was pretty embarrassing. I had lots of stuff around,” he said. He added that he never owned a Leafs jersey with anyone else’s number on it, but that, “… my dad got one made with my name and my number on it,” said McDavid.
#15. Loyalties to Toronto Went Right Out the Window
What a lot of Toronto fans probably won’t tell you (or maybe they don’t know), is that he actually took a bit of a pot shot at the team prior to the NHL draft where he was selected by the Edmonton Oilers and it’s clear his allegiances to his old childhood team don’t run all that deep.
During an interview in 2015, he was asked if it would be hard switching loyalties if he were drafted by anyone other than Toronto and he unequivocally said, “Not very hard. Your loyalty goes to the team you’re playing for and with the Leafs and how they’ve been playing of late, it’s hard to be a Leafs fan.”
Essentially, McDavid was giving the political answer, but in doing so, took a shot at the Maple Leafs’ inability to win.
#14: Wore No. 97 Since He was Nine Years Old
While he might have been a Leafs fans early on, one thing has really never changed for one of the best players in the world with one of the most recognizable numbers. McDavid has always wore the number ninety-seven.
When asked about the Leafs jersey his dad had made for him, and if donned his number, he said, “Yeah, I think I’ve been 97 since I was about nine (years old).”
The jersey represents the year McDavid was born.
#13: McDavid and Bobby Orr: The Player/Agent Match Made In Heaven
That McDavid is represented by Jeff Jackson of Wasserman/Orr Hockey Group might not come as a shocker to some fans. But the story of how McDavid and Orr got to know each other is a fun one.
McDavid was already showing signs of being a tremendously gifted player when Orr first saw him. It was at Orr’s hockey legend’s summer camp where Connor developed a friendship with Orr who couldn’t believe the hands, the skating ability and skills with the puck on a 14-year old.
McDavid went to that camp just hoping to meet Orr. As Sports Illustrated points out, “Rumor had it that Orr would make an appearance, but the days passed and he hadn’t shown. Anticipation built up among the attendees, particularly McDavid.” As the days went by McDavid got more and more nervous and, when Orr finally showed, he proceeded to put McDavid into a headlock. “But that’s the kind of guy he is,” McDavid says. “He’s so warm, so loving. He made it so there was no star-struck phase.”
Eventually McDavid would come to know Orr extremely well and the two became close friends. The Orr Hockey Group now represent him and it was a match made in heaven considering both players have gone through so many similar things but so many years apart from one another.
You would think McDavid would have had a lineup of agencies wanting to rep him knowing how skilled he’d be. Connor and his family didn’t even interview with anyone else.
#12: Never Really Interested in Playing With His Favorite Player
At the time McDavid was drafted, it was hard to argue against Sidney Crosby as the world’s greatest hockey player. Crosby also happened to be McDavid’s favorite player.
The two were often compared as McDavid entered the league and through his first few seasons the debate over who was better remained. Interestingly, as a fresh NHLer, McDavid wasn’t all that interested to play with Crosby.
It is said that McDavid once alluded to the fact their playing styles were similar and that meant it probably would have been a challenge to play on the same line. He figured they would have clashed more than potentially helped each other. And, considering the competitive nature of McDavid overall, it is believed he preferred to line up against his favorite player to test his skills.
In reality, this is the case for a lot of superstars and especially Crosby who had a reputation of being difficult to play with. It wasn’t always easy finding him the right linemates in Pittsburgh because other players couldn’t quite figure out what to do to be an asset on Crosby’s line.
This isn’t to say these two wouldn’t have figured out a way to make it work, more than McDavid felt they might not have immediate chemistry.
#11. Wants to Play Against, But Learn From the Best
It’s this fiery competitive spirit that likely took McDavid to Arizona to practice with Auston Matthews this offseason. McDavid and Matthews skated together doing drills and testing each other, both hoping to pick up elements of the other’s games heading into the 2020-21 season. For McDavid, it was Matthews ability to shoot the puck, something McDavid has admittedly would like to improve.
Goaltender Peter Budaj said the two are good buddies but are also insanely competitive with each other, wanting “to be the guy”. It’s that mutual respect and desire to be the best that make them perfect practice partners.
Off the ice, McDavid and Matthews have become close friends and it will be interesting to see if, one day, there’s ever talk of these two trying to get on the same team. If McDavid’s desire to play against the best like he did Crosby is any indication, we’re guessing McDavid and Matthews will never be on the same team.
#10. McDavid Did Want to Play With Milan Lucic
Oilers fans probably know this one, but McDavid was asked long before being drafted who he might want to play with one day and of all the people he could have chosen, he said Milan Lucic. Ironically, it came to be that the two players did play together and it didn’t pan out all that well.
Why would McDavid say Lucic? At the time, Lucic was a horse in the NHL and a pretty productive one at that. McDavid might have loved the idea of having an offensive powerhouse on his line that could take care of business if anyone took liberties. Again, ironically that never really happened either as both were members of the Edmonton Oilers and Lucic was often criticized for picking his spots, not standing up for teammates when he played against his former teams and taking bad penalties.
#9. His Older Brother Played Hockey Too
As is often the case with big stars, they aren’t the only family members in one household who plays/played the game. In fact, more often than not, the Staal’s or Subban’s of the world are rare and one child tends to do really well while the other does not.
In the case of McDavid, his older brother Cameron played too. That said, Cameron was not nearly as dedicated to the game, never really elevating himself past the CCHL and COJCHL. Cameron’s last season was in 2011 and he recorded six points in seven postseason games.
It must be tough being the brother of Connor McDavid when both guys set out to play hockey. When you don’t even make it to the NHL and your younger brother goes on to become the best player in the league, it takes a good man to be supportive and not let it get you down.
Cameron is now an associate with DWHP, a healthcare private equity investor company.
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