“A hockey play gone bad.”
That’s what Wayne Gretzky is calling the incident between Connor McDavid and two Philadelphia Flyers defencemen that saw the generational talent suffer a broken clavicle after crashing hard into the boards.
Gretzky told ESPN he “knew as soon as he went into the boards” that it might be bad.
“They’re so fast and big now in today’s NHL. It’s incredible how fast the game is,” he said. “I’m just glad the two Flyers players did nothing illegal on the play. It was a hockey play gone bad.”
Oilers head coach Todd McLellan shared that sentiment following the game: “It was a hockey play. Three guys got tangled up in the corner. It’s unfortunate.”
McDavid is expected to miss "months" with the injury, which requires surgery. While this certainly presents a sizeable obstacle in the 18-year-old's rookie campaign, he no longer needs to worry about proving himself in the league.
He's already done that.
"He had already shown everybody that a) he belongs in the NHL and b) he’s an elite player," said The Great One, who added that McDavid's "biggest adversity was his first 10 games."
Like the rest of the hockey world, Gretzky has been paying close attention to the young phenom since he emerged on the hockey scene, and shared his thoughts on McDavid's performance in the NHL so far.
"Every time he’s on the ice, he makes something happen. Just as important, he thrives under the microscope, he thrives under pressure," Gretzky said. "People wanted to know how good he was, can he play here, is he everything that people say he is, and I think over those first 10-12 games he showed everyone he’s the real deal.
"He just has to get healthy and come back and play like he was before he was injured."