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Maple Leafs’ Matthews & Oilers’ McDavid: Picking Each Other’s Brains

Auston Matthews and Connor McDavid are two of the top NHL players today. What was the result of the spent time they spent together in Phoenix?

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Near the end of November, Elliotte Friedman wrote a great article about a series of former Arizona Coyotes’ player Shane Doan-run practices in Phoenix, Arizona. What made these practices so memorable is that two of today’s currently best NHL players – the Toronto Maple Leafs Auston Matthews and the Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid – got together to work out, practice their on-ice moves, and build a stronger relationship.

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Somehow, to me, that seems like a perfect combination. I don’t doubt that it was a mutual respect that initially brought together these two great young NHL centers together on the same ice. Others must have agreed, too. When other NHL players heard about the twosome working together, they also joined. Talk about a party.

Who Else Joined McDavid and Matthews

Some of the players who showed up included Chicago Blackhawks’ Jonathan Toews, Anthony Duclair (who recently signed with the Florida Panthers), Minnesota Wild’s Matt Dumba, new Ottawa Senators’ forward Alex Galchenyuk, and Carolina Hurricanes young defensive prospect Jake Bean. A number of other Arizona Coyotes players also joined.

McDavid and Matthews skating together

Still, the two headliners were the Oilers’ McDavid and Maple Leafs’ Matthews. It’s always interesting when two of the best players in any sport meet together because there is mutual respect built. Something sets both Matthews and McDavid apart from other NHL players. Certainly, they are highly skilled and good skaters. But also they have strong work ethics and are very serious about working out and working to improve their games.

Shane Doan: One of the NHL’s Good Guys

It’s also interesting for me, because of where I worked at the University of Alberta for more than 40 years, that they were coached by one of hockey is really good guys. That’s Shane Doan. Obviously, Doan takes his coaching seriously. Friedman’s article noted that Doan spoke with each player about what that player wanted to improve and then created drills to help that player reach his goals.

Friedman highlighted the serious attentiveness to detail that Matthews and McDavid brought to their game. These stars took their hockey practices seriously and worked really, really hard.

McDavid & Matthews

Interestingly enough, McDavid and Matthews had some time to hang out after practice and build a strong relationship. When Friedman talked to both about what they liked in each other’s game, McDavid highlighted Matthews’shot and Matthews highlighted McDavid’s skating ability.

Matthews Learned Lots Training with McDavid in Off-season

Today, as the Maple Leafs’ training camp opened, Matthews spoke about training with McDavid during the off-season. He believes it will be a great deal of fun for them to play in the same division and against each other so often during the season.

In the video below, Matthew speaks about his time hanging out with McDavid both on and off the ice. He specifically noted that “it was great.” One reason was that “we had a lot of guys down there” working together.

Learning from the Best NHL Players

Matthews added that he thought “it’s always positive when you get really good players together and they are able to train and practice.” He also believed it was good just to pick “each other’s brains.”

Matthews had high praise for McDavid. He was clear that he believed there’s no more “special player” than McDavid who he noted was the best player in the NHL. Matthews also noted that “it was great spending some time with him” both on the ice and just being around him.

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His bottom line is that McDavid is a “great guy” and “we really enjoyed ourselves.” He believed they both learned a lot from the experience and, for him it was great to be so many good players who “just want to be out there.” His bottom line was that each of them spent time picking the others’ brains to try to become better players.

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