As Toronto area writers seem prone to do at least once every off-season, Globe and Mail columnist Cathal Kelly delivered his version of hanging cheese — a slow curveball without enough bend in it — Monday when he suggested that Edmonton Oilers’ captain Connor McDavid just doesn’t look happy in his work. Oh my.

The temptation, if you haven’t seen the pitch before, is to get all jacked up and hack away mightily. Partly because the comment stings a bit with as lousy as the Oilers have been for too long, and partly because it comes from a writer in a city where the NHL team hasn’t won squat since 1967.

I’m not going to do that — beyond this mention and without foaming at the mouth — and neither should you. The best thing to do with a lazy bender, and lazy sports writing, like Kelly’s latest McDavid ditty is to leave the bat on your shoulder, back out of the box and take the pitch because, like I said, we’ve seen it before. Kelly offered up much the same hanging cheese in January of this year, lamenting McDavid wasting away as an Oiler. 

As a follow up Monday, Kelly took some comments made by McDavid during his availability at a camp put on by BioSteel, who is one of his sponsors, and put a familiar spin on them – he suggested McDavid doesn’t look happy with his lot in life with the Oilers and implied that it might be better if he was somewhere other than Edmonton. Sound familiar?


Kelly wrote: “Four years into the Connor McDavid era, McDavid kept getting better and the Edmonton Oilers kept getting worse. No one seemed more confused by this turn of events than the man at the middle of it. A general conversation began to emerge in the NHL – does McDavid need rescuing? Is there something the army can do? Doesn’t it have helicopters and experience with human extraction?”

A general conversation? Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is fantasy, pure and simple. Unless I’ve missed it, this conversation has pretty much been limited to the GTA and it’s one hatched by writers in Hogtown tired of waiting for the Maple Leafs to win something. You know, Connor wants to play here, and it would be better for everybody involved, notably the NHL, if he did. Sure.

Even when McDavid talks about his happiness, or lack of same, in Edmonton – and let’s face it, it hasn’t been a barrel of laughs — as he reluctantly does from time to time, it seems that there is more imaginative reading between the lines than there is attention paid to what he actually says. More of the same from Kelly, with Oilers fans already fussing about the state of McDavid’s knee.

Wrote Kelly, referring to questions posed at the end of last season: “McDavid – the companiest company man in the NHL – laughed off those questions, too. “I want to be here,” he said. “If I didn’t want to be here, I wouldn’t have signed an eight-year deal.” Kelly added: “It sounded believable. Almost. Now that he’s had the summer to think about it, McDavid doesn’t sound any more sure about things.” On and on. For context, the item is here.


Until the Oilers’ medical staff or McDavid himself lets us know that he isn’t going to be ready for the start of the regular season, I’m not going to waste even a second worrying about the state of his healing posterior-cruciate ligament or spend time losing sleep or sweating over speculation about it. What’s the point?

As for the state of McDavid’s head and his heart when it comes to toiling for the Oilers, I’m going to take him at his word, allowing, of course, for the fact everyone will be much happier when the team at long last extricates itself from the ditch. Until McDavid comes clean about his secret desire to play for the Maple Leafs or in another city more beneficial to the greater good, I’ll leave reading between the lines to Kelly and the other deep thinkers fixated on what’s best for him.


Bryn Griffiths and I spent 30 minutes or so Monday talking with Theoren Fleury about his compelling journey from sexual abuse and addiction to becoming an advocate for people struggling with the same issues as part of our second podcast for The Outsiders. Theo has never been better. You can take a listen here.

Previously by Robin Brownlee