It would have been one of the hottest tickets in the NHL all season.
Instead, it amounted to an injury update prior to a face-off between two of the league’s worst teams.
A broken clavicle — healing faster than expected — has delayed Connor McDavid‘s professional debut on Air Canada Centre ice until 2016-17, but the superstar rookie did address media at the closest NHL rink to his home Monday.
A disappointed McDavid, who was born in nearby Richmond Hill, Ont., said it “sucks” to miss out on a chance to skate in front of his family and friends.
“This one hurts a lot,” he told reporters upon rejoining the Oilers for his first road trip since the injury.
The 18-year-old told a deep media throng that he’s not experiencing any pain now but he has not resumed skating.
The centre’s return is now estimated at mid-to-late January, which is good news considering the early-March return originally projected by the Oilers.
“I’ll leave that to the doctors,” McDavid said, regarding his return date.
The odds-on favourite to win the 2016 Calder Trophy as the league’s top rookie, McDavid had racked up 12 points in 13 games for the Oilers before crashing hard into the boards during Edmonton’s Nov. 3 tilt versus the Philadelphia Flyers.
Considering McDavid helped lead Team Canada to gold at the 2015 world junior championships on Air Canada Centre ice, the building holds special meaning to the young phenom.
The Oilers (last place in the Western Conference) face off against the Maple Leafs (last place in the Eastern Conference) at 7:30 p.m. ET at the ACC.
“We just seem to find ways to lose games,” McDavid said of his team. “If we could find a way to switch some of those one-goal games around, we’d be in a much different situation.
“I know the guys are really excited to play here in Toronto.”
Toronto’s Garret Sparks will make his NHL debut Monday. Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul will sit out with an undisclosed injury, and forward Daniel Winnik will draw back in to the lineup.