For Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane, the epiphany came on one of the first plays of a November 2016 game in Edmonton. “[McDavid] was skating so fast up the ice,” Kane recalled. “Our defenseman was going backward. He had to turn around and skate forward — like, directly at our net. McDavid still got a breakaway and got a shot off.”
Nashville Predators captain Roman Josi was on the receiving end of one such McDavid burn in October 2015: “I was covering him, and he got a pass from our blue line,” the defenseman explained. “He was kind of in between, I thought I was going to get it and cut it off, but all he did was toss to his backhand a little bit, then turn [the other] way. I hadn’t even turned yet … but he was already over there!”
McDavid’s teammates are awed by his on-ice antics, too. “I mean, people all see the stuff that he does in the games,” says New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle, who played with McDavid in Edmonton for two seasons. “But the stuff in practice is just as impressive, if not more.”
McDavid, the reigning MVP, is a transcendent talent. It’s easy to identify what the Oilers center is good at — those ridiculous no-look passes, that blazing speed, his soft hands that somehow keep up. So ESPN.com embarked on a quest to answer a different question: Is there anything McDavid is bad at?
Here are our findings. Good news, mortals: Aside from his otherworldly feats on the ice, McDavid is a lot more like us than you might think.
He’s not a morning person
— Taylor Hall (@hallsy09) May 9, 2016
Alex Cooney, director of media relations for the Erie Otters, McDavid’s OHL team for three seasons: “The coaching staff would always look to see what Connor’s hair looked like at breakfast at hotels, because it was easy to see that he just woke up, put on clothes and ran down to breakfast so he wouldn’t be late.”
Bob Catalde, McDavid’s billet dad for three years while he played in Erie: “Oh yeah, it was hard to get him up in the mornings. When he lived with us, he lived in the finished basement. Usually, I made breakfast, and when Connor walked upstairs, it was very clear he had just crawled out of bed. If you asked him a question, he’d usually respond with one or two words.”
He (probably) can’t cook
Eric Gryba, Oilers defenseman: “I’ve never seen him try, but there’s no way he’s a good cook. His culinary skills are definitely lacking. You’re talking to the culinary master of the NHL right now, so I would know. He should hang out with Grilling with Gryba more.”
Darnell Nurse, Oilers defenseman and McDavid’s current roommate: “I’ve never seen him cook. We live together, and I cook for him every once in a while. My go-to dish? I like red meat. I make steak, lamb. I made ribs the other day. But Connor? I don’t think he can cook like that.”
Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks winger and former OHL teammate: “When we were younger, our billet families usually cooked for us. I’m not sure he can cook anything. Maybe he can make mac and cheese?”
Connor McDavid goes as Donald Trump for Halloween
The player who made the Edmonton Oilers great again dressed up as the man who wants to make America great again.
Which young player would you build a team around?
If you could construct a franchise around a current top-20 scorer, who would you choose? While slick-shooting Auston Matthews is a popular choice among our panelists, Greg Wyshynski says that Jack Eichel’s swagger sets the Sabres center apart.
Now and Later Rankings: Best player, team today — and for the future
What’s the top team in the NHL? Who will it be in four years? Is Sidney Crosby still the face of the league, or is Connor McDavid already coming for his throne? We surveyed 50 players, scouts and execs to find out who they like now — and down the road.
He’s scared of spiders
Catalde: “He cannot stand spiders and bugs. If there are any near him, he’s not good handling it. If he saw one, honestly, he might scream and then run away. I’m actually surprised his teammates haven’t used that to prank him.”
He can’t parallel park
Nurse: “That’s an everyday thing you need to do, and he’s not great at it. He has an SUV. He’s usually a little too tight. That’s his problem.”
He stinks at other sports
Cam Talbot, Oilers goalie: “He’s a one-sport athlete. You know the two-touch [soccer] game that guys play before the game? He’s not a very good at it.”
Yohann Auvitu, Oilers defenseman: “[McDavid] is OK [at soccer], but he doesn’t have a good left foot.”
Gryba: “Football, either! If you see him throw the football, it’s embarrassing.”
He’s bad at video games — even hockey ones
Nurse: “He’s bad at UFC on PlayStation. We have a pingpong table at the house and he’s always beating me. But I’m definitely better at video games. I beat him most of the times.”
DeBrincat: “He’s bad at NHL video games. I don’t actually know if he’s [still] bad, but I used to beat him.”
He doesn’t know how to take a day off
Brooks Orpik, Washington Capitals defenseman: “I used to play with [retired forward] Gary Roberts, who Connor trains with in Toronto. Gary told me that when [McDavid] signed his new contract this summer, he went to Edmonton to do the press conference on a Sunday. And he took the first flight back to Toronto, even with the time change, on Monday morning, so he wouldn’t miss his workout on Monday morning. Right after signing a $100 million contract. I don’t know if there are too many guys in the league who would have done that.”
Catalde: “I visited him this summer in Toronto. I got to his house midmorning and we were going to go golf. First, he had already been to the gym. But we also couldn’t leave until he finished what he was doing. He has a two-car garage, and inside of it, he built boards and has an NHL-level net and netting around it so he won’t mess up his garage. And he’s there firing 100 shots. We couldn’t leave until he finished.
He’s awkward at fan photos
— Margeaux Maron (@MargeauxMorin) May 10, 2017
Last May, as he and his teammates were preparing to travel to Los Angeles for Game 7 of their Stanley Cup playoff series against the Anaheim Ducks, McDavid was spotted by a couple at Edmonton International Airport. Jimmy and Rosalina Valeriano grabbed McDavid, literally, for a candid to show their kids and granddaughter, who are avid Oilers fans … and might have taken the funniest — but most awkward — fan photos of all time. As Rosalina clutched McDavid’s left arm, Jimmy gripped his right hand … and poor McDavid wore a look of complete discomfort/terror.
“Jimmy and Rosalina Valeriano excitedly clutch on to McDavid as though he truly were a divine saviour sent to bring playoff glory to Edmonton,” explained journalist Margeaux Morin, who passed along the photo on Twitter and who happens to be best friends with the Valerianos’ daughter Jamie, in a story for the Global News. “McDavid, on the other hand, looks a little … afraid.”