In his day, the Great Wayne Gretzky had a number of different partners. For a while he had Jari Kurri riding shotgun; and, as Gretzky noted himself during a conversation in The Athletic in April, he played with Mark Messier who’s also no slouch. (from “Q&A: Wayne Gretzky on the Oilers’ new stars, the records and more,” Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside, The Athletic, 08/04/20)
As Gretzky himself noted in the interview from which the article was written, “I played with arguably one of the greatest players who ever played, Mark Messier. … And so you become a better player with the people that you’re surrounded by.” Sadly for Oilers fans such as myself, their split up in Edmonton was one of the saddest moments in Oilers’ history. I’m betting that most Oilers fans agree that neither player should have ever played for another organization.
The Newest Oilers Stars Benefit from Playing Together
The fact that when two great players play together they make each other better was exactly Gretzky’s point when he spoke about the Edmonton Oilers’ new dynamic duo – Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. He believes that, although each player would be great by themselves, he also believes that both Draisaitl and McDavid have made each other even better because they’ve shared their elite play and competitive nature. And, by doing so, they’ve worked to inspire each other to be better than they’d be by themselves.
How does this work? Gretzky notes that playing partners might not even realize it, but they influence each other. He thinks that’s what McDavid and Draisaitl have done. As he notes, “Connor and Leon, maybe subconsciously, not knowing this, but they’ve become better players because they’re competing every single day with each other and not even really realizing it.”
McDavid and Draisaitl: Two of the Best in the Game
There’s no argument that Edmonton has two of the best forwards in the game today in McDavid and Draisaitl. When the season was suspended on March 12, both McDavid and Draisaitl were having fantastic seasons. McDavid had scored 34 goals and 63 assists (for 97 points in 64 games); however, Draisaitl simply ran away with the Art Ross Trophy by scoring 43 goals and 67 assists (for 110 points in 71 games) before the NHL’s regular-season suspended play.
In fact, Draisaitl was named the Art Ross Trophy winner, which is awarded goes to the player who led the league in points at the end of the regular season. Although the regular season hadn’t run its full course, the NHL officially announced that the 2019-2020 regular season had concluded as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Good Luck to the Oilers Moving Forward
How the two will play during the postseason remains to be seen, but it’s certainly been a positive season for the Oilers who’ve been relegated to the lower parts of the NHL for the past few seasons. Good luck to the team as it moves forward.