Columnist image
Frank Seravalli

TSN Senior Hockey Reporter

|Archive

Connor McDavid may skate like an otherworldly wizard, but he hasn’t discovered any new-found passion or hobby during the NHL’s self-isolation period, which hit Day 15 on Friday.

McDavid isn’t a super chef or a prodigious video gamer, and he certainly isn’t building a chicken coop, like the one Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf revealed he’s working on in Anaheim.

“I haven’t been doing much at all,” McDavid said. "I don’t have any hidden talents.”

McDavid is a hockey player.

And the player considered by many to be the best in the world believes that if the NHL does return to the ice to close out the 2019-20 season, it would be a mistake to jump right into playoff intensity without regular season or exhibition games played first.

“I don’t think we can just step into the playoffs,” McDavid said in a video conference call with three other Pacific Division players on Friday. “Game 1, it’s Calgary coming to Edmonton and guys are running around trying to kill each other that haven’t played for two months.

“It’ll end up the [AHL] Stockton Heat versus the Bakersfield Condors if that’s the case. We want to keep the guys healthy. A fair season is a full season. If we can do that, that’s what we’d obviously prefer.”

With his Edmonton Oilers on the verge of returning to the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in three seasons, McDavid said the NHL’s pause in play was more disappointing than frustrating.

Under coach Dave Tippett, the Oilers had already eclipsed their point totals from each of the past two seasons with 11 games still to play, had first place in the Pacific in their sights, and had forward Leon Draisaitl running away with the scoring title on his way to a potential Hart Trophy.

“It’s just disappointing when the team’s having a good year and in the playoff hunt and lots of good stuff going on,” McDavid said. “The health and safety and everyone is what’s important. Hockey can go on hold for a little bit. It’s important that everyone does what they have to do and takes care of each other so that we can get this thing over with so we can get back to playing hockey.”

Whenever that is, McDavid echoed Metropolitan Division stars Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin from a day earlier ­– firmly in playoff position, his vote was for the standings to remain as is.

That didn’t sit well with Canucks captain Bo Horvat, whose Vancouver team is in based on points percentage, but currently outside the usual 16-team tournament format based on points.

“It better go by points percentage or play more regular-season games,” Horvat said, laughing.

Flames captain Mark Giordano said he preferred 24 teams, eight more than normal, to qualify for the postseason, with 12 in each conference making it.

“I’ve thought a lot about this,” Giordano said. “More teams get in this year, a couple byes are the top, and then play it out.”

In a points or points percentage world, the Oilers and Flames would be scheduled to meet in the first round. That would add serious juice to an already dripping Battle of Alberta this season.

McDavid, who dealt with a quad injury earlier this season and a knee issue last year, said he is 100 per cent healthy. He said he’s been running throughout Edmonton with teammate Darnell Nurse and working out in his new home’s full gym.

That health is why Giordano said this could be the best playoffs ever.

“I think if we could ever get back to playing, I think this is going to be one of the best playoffs ever because every team is going to have all of their guys healthy,” Giordano said. “It’s truly going to be the best version of every team, I think. We’ll be in for some pretty good hockey if we can ever get past this and into the playoffs.”

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli