EDMONTON — Things We (Think We) Know. Series 1, Volume 3.
Things We Know: Connor McDavid, the fastest player in the National Hockey League, will not be taking part in the “Fastest Skater” event at the upcoming NHL All-Star Weekend.
Things We Think We Know: Win or lose at the contrived All-Star event, McDavid is the game’s fastest player. Trotting him out every year in an event that does not emulate true hockey speed in any meaningful way must be getting old for McDavid, as would hearing that whoever beats him in the event is the new “Fastest Player in Hockey.”
“I’d like to try the accuracy event,” McDavid said this week. Let’s hope he gets his wish, given the cringy, Florida-themed alternatives the NHL will try out this week.
In the “Discover NHL Tendy Tandem,” one goalie will shoot pucks at a hole, while the other tries to stop breakaways, the number of which is based on how many holes his “Tendy Tandem,” mate hits. In the “Chipotle NHL Pitch ‘N Puck,” players combine hockey and golf skills on a Par 4 hole featuring an island green.
Our personal favourite, the “NHL Enterprise Splash Shot,” requires players to hit all their targets before attempting to dunk their opponents. In the ocean? In a dunk tank?
In a vat of Coors Light? Who knows…
Sick of the Fastest Skater race, eh? We’d say McDavid had better be careful what he wishes for.
Things We Know: The Oilers thought they blew a point when they lost in OT to Columbus on Wednesday. But it turns out they picked up a point on the field, when the scores came in the next night: Chicago 5-1 over Calgary; Arizona 5-0 over St. Louis; Anaheim 5-3 over Colorado.
Things We Think We Know: That Wednesday slate of results was a major break for Edmonton, a team that is intent on winning its last game on Saturday before taking a full week off. Players are scattering to everywhere from Cancun to California on Sunday, and they’d rather do so on a 7-0-1 run after a win Saturday night against the Blackhawks.
“We’re all athletes and competitors in here,” began Tyson Barrie. “Anytime you have a loss, you kind of dwell on it a little bit. It would certainly be annoying to have to dwell on a loss for over a week.”
Only in a Canadian city would a team that had won six in a row catch so much grief for having lost the seventh game in overtime. Barrie can’t say that he noticed, however.
“If you’re not on Twitter and looking at everything the fans are saying all the time… If you don’t turn on Sportsnet — which I don’t, because I’m usually watching kid shows with my son. I didn’t know there was a resounding sense of panic after the game.”
Things We Know: Evander Kane re-joined the Oilers at Friday’s practice after missing the entire week while attending bankruptcy hearings in San Jose. We would expect him to play against the Blackhawks Saturday.
He returns as he left, with a smile on his face and standing as one of hockey’s most productive left-wingers.
Things We Think We Know: Sometimes, player acquisition is all about what life stage you get the player at. Like Valeri Nikushkin, who scored nine goals in his final 144 games for Dallas, then became a 25-goal scorer for Colorado in 2021-22.
The Oilers got Klim Kostin on his second team, and he’s a much better player here than he was in St. Louis. And whoever ends up with Jesse Puljujarvi next season, they’ll be hoping for the same thing.
As for Kane, he has been productive wherever he’s been, but he’s also been self-destructive, when one considers the reported $26.8 million in debts Kane claims, as he sought Chapter 7 bankruptcy in a San Jose court this week.
When the Oilers took a chance on Kane last February, they were rewarded with a player who scored 22 regular-season goals and led the playoffs with 15 more. When they decided to offer him a four-year deal last summer it was a decision based on his production, but also on the fact he had been a model teammate, bringing none of the drama to the Oilers dressing room that he was accused of supplying in Winnipeg, Buffalo and San Jose.
So, all is good, right?
Well, let’s hope so.
Kane is facing some very serious opposition to his bankruptcy filings, and according to The Athletic writer Daniel Kaplan, two separate parties are seeking to block his attempt to declare bankruptcy. In short, Kane wants to move on and start over, while at least two creditors — one being a bank — seek to hold him to account on his alleged debts.
Will Edmonton get the same player back at the end of this saga, no matter what the judge decides? Can Kane compartmentalize his personal issues, and be free to be the premier player he has always been once the puck drops?
Edmonton can only hope.