EDMONTON — "It feels like nothing’s changed."
Those five words are exactly what the hockey world has been waiting to hear from Connor McDavid, who stepped on to the Rogers Place surface for the first time on Saturday since tearing the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee April 7 in Calgary.
McDavid took part in an informal skate with a group of Oilers Saturday, and if you didn’t already know he was rehabbing a knee injury, you never would have known by watching him dangle in a three-on-three game against NHL players. He looks well on his way to a 100 per cent recovery, and said Saturday that there is nothing he feels restricted in doing on the ice because of the torn PCL.
Sure, nobody opposing the Oilers captain team was going to lay a stick on McDavid Saturday, or even consider taking the body. But the quickness in his first two steps, the zero-to-60 that has made McDavid the fastest and quickest player in the National Hockey League was evident, if not over-utilized in his first Edmonton skate prior to the opening of training camp next week.
"I’ve been skating a ton. I trained with Gary Roberts and his program, skated on my own before that…," McDavid said post-skate.
Coming back from this injury hasn’t been the same as returning from the broken clavicle he suffered in his rookie campaign.
"You take it a little bit slower," he said of the PCL rehab. "A collarbone is a bone — I wasn’t afraid to push that. But ligaments, I’ve never dealt with that before. I didn’t want to push too hard, but you have to push hard enough to make sure it’s healing."
McDavid looked completely normal while taking part in battle drills Saturday, and undressed a couple of defencemen before scoring three lovely goals in the 85-foot, three-on-three game. McDavid has already taken his pre-camp physical and will take part in training camp.
As for opening night on Oct. 2 versus Vancouver: "We’re working towards that," he said. "It’s kinda out of my hands. The doctors, they’ll figure that all out, and I’ll listen to them."
Does he feel like he’ll be ready?
"You’re going to have to ask some guys who are a lot smarter than I am," McDavid said. "I’m supposed to play hockey, and I don’t make those decisions. The doc will say when I’m good to go, and I’ll go."