McDavid, Oilers hungry for success after sweeping the third round last season

Edmonton – Conor MacDavid arrived in Edmonton clean-shaven with a fresh, tidy haircut. Hockey hair, red beard, that was last year. And last year is ancient history here.

If there’s an analogy to be made, it’s to be found somewhere in the early theme that originated here in Captain’s Skates, with every player back in Edmonton early, which is a positive sign of engagement this fall.

Hair is short and so are memories.

“I mean, we really won one game (last spring) more than we did in 2017,” said the Oilers captain, referring to the team’s eight wins in ’22 and seven in 2017. “It looks like we were closer last year than previous years, but it’s just one more win. So we have a long way to go.”

What does it take to get a berth in the Western Conference final?

“It takes everyone and every season takes a long time.”

It was only five short seasons when the Oilers came to camp after taking the Anaheim Ducks to seven games in the second round. They could have won this series, had it not been for the horrible last 4 minutes of Game 5 and some quick management. Along the way.

But either way, the assumption was that the Oilers family would kill her in 2017-18. Damn it’s over, baby, and this team was real.

Then the season began, Edmonton won one of its first five games, and two of its first 11 games, and by American Thanksgiving, the Oilers scored 8-12-2. They cooked like John Madden’s Tur-duck-en, a structured lesson in thinking a seat at the game table was guaranteed based on something I did 12 months ago.

“We did this in 2017, and the next year we missed the playoffs, right?” Leon Drystel reminded everyone last week. “So we know how hard it is to get back there. We know what it looks like and how much work you have to do in 82 games to get a chance. So we started from Game 1, trying to build our game, and improve from there.”

What you hear is the difference between the 20- or 21-year-old leadership that this team got back in in 2017, and the mid-to-late twenties group that runs this dressing room today.

If you had told 20-year-old Conor MacDavid he still wouldn’t make an Olympics or top team in Canada under his belt for five years down the road, he would have thought you were a moron — even if he never said so. If you had told him that his team would miss the playoffs in 18 and 19, and then failed to win a round in 20 or 21, he might have laughed out loud.

But the team’s lack of success has a way of focusing on a player from McDavid’s import. So he came to Edmonton this fall with a mind to start his team down a path that will end differently than last year’s sweep of the Western Conference Final. And today, his supporting team is not a group of 20 youth studs.

They are Drysittel, 26, Darnell a nurse, 27, Zach Hyman, 30, Evander Kane, 31. Cody Ceci is 28, while Tyson Barry is 31. .

“It’s the shortest summer I’ve had so far, and it’s clearly a good thing. The noise around the room is exciting and I’m excited to be back again,” he admitted.

So when do things start to get serious?

“It starts right away,” Nugent Hopkins said. “Everyone’s attitude was, ‘We’re working straight from the start, go here. The skates were good, the drills were good and… kind of driving Connor far in that regard.'”