Oilers’ Draisaitl on momentum and halted season: ‘Definitely bad timing’

The NHL's current scoring leader, Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers, joined Tim and Sid to discuss the league nearing a potential return, his hockey hero Pavel Datsyuk, and keeping in touch with teammates during quarantine. Catch Tim and Sid back on TV, weekdays at 5-7 pm EST on Sportsnet 360.

Leon Draisaitl feels the responsibility that will most likely come with playing hockey in Canada once the pandemic is over.

The Edmonton Oilers forward, currently in isolation in Edmonton, was enjoying a stellar year before the NHL halted its activities due to the surge of the novel coronavirus on March 12. The season’s scoring leader perfectly understands that world health should come before hockey, but that doesn’t mean he’s not frustrated.

“It’s definitely bad timing, no question,” Draisaitl said on Tim & Sid on Thursday. “More so for our team, I think, other than maybe the last game we were in a good run and we were on a really good way to clinch a playoff spot … We felt good about it, we felt good about our game, and then it was obviously terrible timing.

“But, again, I think we all agree that the health of people and the health of the world is just more important at this moment, so I think that the right decisions were made at that point.”

The Oilers were in the midst of a 37-25-9 campaign, good for 83 points and second place in the Pacific Division. Draisaitl was one of the obvious Hart Trophy candidates and well on his way to the Art Ross with 43 goals and 110 in the paused 2019-20 season.

Now, after over two months without hockey, Draisaitl also understands the intensity Canadian fans will turn to hockey once it comes back.

“Sports and hockey especially in Canada, I don’t want to say it’s everything, but in a way it is. People, that’s what gets them excited,” Draisaitl told Tim & Sid. “I think (sports) gives people a new spark,” “It gets them excited about something. … I think I’m speaking for all of us, as athletes, if we can return, I think that would help everyone.”

Draisaitl’s ties to Germany have allowed the Cologne native to start seeing the light at the end of the tunnel already. While there’s still a lot of uncertainty as Germany reopens the country after the COVID-19 outbreak, the return of Bundesliga has acted as a sign of better things to come.

“It feels like it’s moving ahead a little bit, especially with my ties to Germany and what I’m reading in the news and that kind of stuff,” Draisaitl told Tim & Sid. “It seems like things are opening up a little bit and it’s going at least somewhat in the direction of a normal life. But I think there’s still some work to be done in our case, in the NHL.

“For the time being, all we can do is stay in shape and work out.”

In the quarantine lull, Draisaitl has also had the opportunity to watch some old Oilers games. It’s helped keep the 24-year-old keep motivated.

“You can just see the passion, in Edmonton especially, fans are excited and obviously we want to get to those times back in the day when (the Oilers) were winning Stanley Cups and they had very successful teams. We’re excited and we’re looking to get back to that.”

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