The Oilers Are Terrified In McDavid Leaving
The newest discourse in the tumultuous vortex that is Oilers social media is if Connor McDavid is pulling a "LeBron," and is essentially serving as a Player GM. While many are quick to shrug those claims off as ridiculous, the evidence is certainly compelling.
Let's look at some of the facts:
- Connor McDavid's agent, Jeff Jackson is now President of Hockey Operations and essentially serving as GM himself.
- Connor McDavid's former Eerie Otters coach is now his NHL head coach.
- McDavid pushed Holland to keep Warren Foegele, instead of trading him this off-season.
- McDavid pushed for the signing of Connor Brown.
- Keeping Gulutzan (McDavid and Draisaitl like his powerplay)
These are essentially all of the big moves the Oilers made since the start of last off-season, and all appear to heavily involve Connor McDavid. Including players, particularly your captain and members of the core leadership group is useful and in my opinion, important for a General Manager to do. But have the Oilers gone too far? There is a difference between asking McDavid for input and asking #97 if it's okay if they do something.
For the record, I don't believe McDavid is calling the shots. Elliott Friedman on his 32 Thoughts Podcast had an excellent segment where he spoke that Jeff Jackson has long liked coach Kris Knoblauch, further cementing the idea this was a Jackson move and not a Ken Holland one.
What I do believe however, is that starting from the top with Daryl Katz, the Edmonton Oilers are terrified of letting a second generational player slip through their grasp in the last four decades and are making moves they think McDavid will like, based on that fear. The blame doesn't fall on Connor but the team is going to continue to deal with the fallout of these decisions.
Whether it is signing Darnell Nurse to an albatross of a deal because the organization doesn't want one of McDavid's closest friends to leave, or inevitably playing Connor Brown his 10th game and wasting 3.2 million in cap space next season because "how will McDavid react if his friend is sent down." These are all moves based purely on trying to keep one player (albeit a highly important player) happy.
Paul Coffey is still Special Advisor to Daryl Katz as well as the Assistant Coach for the Edmonton Oilers. That is going to put players in a tough spot when a man who is supposed to be on their side and trying to help them improve as players... is also acting as the eyes and ears of the owner.
That may seem like a strange segue but I see a similar conflict presenting itself with Connor McDavid and his teammates. Even if they may not say it or even necessarily think it, I think there is a subconscious issue in the players on the Edmonton Oilers recognizing they come second to McDavid and to a lesser degree, Leon Draisaitl. Everything this organization has done has been in service to keeping these two players happy. Obviously you want your best players to want to play for your team but the unintended consequence of this may be creating two tiers of players.
The proof is in the pudding.
Regardless of the roster moves, the players that have entered and left this team, somehow this team remains completely dependent on McDavid and Draisaitl. It shouldn't shock anyone that the Oilers sit with the record they do while those two players are having career worst starts.
Maybe it's time for the organization to stop trying to make one player happy and make moves that work to the benefit of the Edmonton Oilers. I'm pretty sure the only thing Connor wants is to win a Cup but if this organization keeps getting in it's own way, it won't be in Edmonton.
Thanks for reading.