The time is here for Oilers captain Connor McDavid to cement legacy

Article content

He’s called the Best Player in the World.

But the title comes with an asterisk.

And if Connor McDavid should go his whole illustrious career without winning the Stanley Cup, his legacy will never be completely shiny.

He will forever be the Dan Marino of the NHL. Someone with all the tools and talent who accomplished everything but the main goal of it all: Winning a league championship.

Advertisement 2

Article content

Chances are, he will win it one day.

But those chances are decreasing year by year.

If McDavid is to lead the Oilers back to the Promised Land for the first time since 1990, the time is now.

This is may be the best chance he ever gets, sitting oh-so close that he could almost reach out and touch it as his Oilers are now in what amounts to a best-of-3 elimination series against the Dallas Stars to see who represents the Western Conference in the Stanley Cup Final.

The good news, of course, is anything can happen in three games.

But the bad news is anything can happen in three games.

The team that wins first only has to win once more in two tries, while the losing team has to somehow come up with back-to-back victories.

Nobody’s guaranteeing that a win in the conference finals would automatically equal a championship. But losing in the conference finals ensures not getting a shot at winning it all.

So, if Connor & Co. hope to get the job done and catapult themselves closer to the same stratosphere of Oilers legends who came ahead of them, this represents their next best chance.

And it all comes down to three games.

Article content

Advertisement 3

Article content

Just three.

Heck, they don’t even have to win them all. Just two of them. Any two. Two more wins and McDavid will lead his all-star cast of characters into their first Stanley Cup series. And Edmonton’s first since reaching Game 7 against the Carolina Hurricanes in 2006.

Young McDavid wasn’t even 10 years old then.

But already he was oozing superstardom out of every pore as he made his way through the ranks of minor hockey in true championship fashion. And through it all, all the effort — both his own and that of his family members who dedicated so much of their lives to putting him on the track to the pros — all the skate sharpenings, the countless kilometres of blade tape, the bumps and bruises bandaged, the limitless lamps lit, the forever friendships formed, the life lessons learned, the highs and lows, the ups and downs, the immeasurable in betweens where he was somehow able to keep focused on what mattered most better than the rest …

It all amounted to one lottery ball that changed the future for not only McDavid, but a young organization already steeped in tradition and a city that used to be synonymous with champions.

Advertisement 4

Article content

McDavid getting drafted by the Oilers was about the closest thing there could ever be to the second coming …

Relax — I mean of Wayne Gretzky. Though the nickname McJesus is still bandied about all these years later.

And through it all, the statistics, highlight reels, comparisons, league awards and everything else you can possibly think of keep piling up.

Everything except, of course, for the one thing that matters most. The one thing that every legend worth their pound of salt has in common. The thing that separates the good from the great. And if you don’t have one, you’ll never really become part of the club.

Multiple Cups would be nice, but you really only need one. Win one and you become a champ. And no matter what else happens, no one can ever take that away from you.

It’s almost unfair, in a sense, that some fourth-line goon from the 1990s who skates like a pylon and shoots his mouth better than he ever could a puck, can get picked up at the trade deadline by a team on the rise and wind up seeing his name carved in Lord Stanley’s mug, while those gifted with the rarest of talent can conceivably go their entire career without hoisting the hardest trophy to win in all of sports high above head and taking the greatest of victory laps around the rink.

Oh, sure. McDavid could just as easily be part of an Oilers crew that catches lightning in a bottle next year and ends up winning it all. Or he could just as easily see his career end in injury and never get another chance again.

Who knows what might happen in the future?

For now, all we know for sure is this is the best chance McDavid has ever had at winning the one thing that has eluded him for the past eight years. And if he wants to have a chance to change that, it all comes down to this best of three.

Just don’t think about it too much.

E-mail: [email protected]

On Twitter: @GerryModdejonge

Article content