Oil­ers name McDavid youngest cap­tain

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS -

ED­MON­TON, AL­BERTA >> The Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers have made Con­nor McDavid the youngest cap­tain in NHL his­tory.

McDavid will wear the “C” de­spite be­ing 19 years and 266 days old and hav­ing just 45 games of NHL ex­pe­ri­ence un­der his belt.

It might seem in­tim­i­dat­ing for a player en­ter­ing his sec­ond sea­son to lead team­mates who have been around the block a few times, but McDavid said he’s more com­fort­able in this role than he was serv­ing as cap­tain of the North Amer­ica team at the World Cup of Hockey.

“That (North Amer­ica) was even more of a dif­fi­cult job than this,” McDavid said Wed­nes­day. “You’re try­ing to get to know the guys all at the same time, while here in Ed­mon­ton ev­ery­one’s so close.

“I def­i­nitely feel more com­fort­able in this dress­ing room than that one.”

Oil­ers coach Todd McLel­lan said the phe­nom is ready to han­dle the pres­sures that go along with the ti­tle of cap­tain.

“He’s ma­ture be­yond his years, so he’s dealt with all of you since he was 14,” McLel­lan said Wed­nes­day. “He han­dles him­self very well and takes care of his team­mates in front of and with the me­dia, which we think is very im­por­tant in a Cana­dian fran­chise.”

He had 16 points and 32 as­sists in his rookie sea­son in 2015-16 de­spite miss­ing 37 games with a bro­ken col­lar­bone.

“He showed that he was ready to take charge,” McLel­lan said.

The na­tive of New­mar­ket, On­tario, who was the No. 1 over­all pick in the 2015 draft, will fol­low in some big foot­steps as cap­tain, in­clud­ing those of Hall of Famers Wayne Gret­zky and Mark Messier.

McDavid pre­vi­ously served as cap­tain of the On­tario Hockey League’s Erie Ot­ters. He said he’s not the most demon­stra­tive leader, pre­fer­ring to lead by ex­am­ple.

“I’m def­i­nitely not the most vo­cal guy in the room,” McDavid said. “I think I’m a guy who can re­late to ev­ery­one, and I try to lead that way. I’m not the big ‘rah rah’ kind of guy.”

McLel­lan said he sees sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween McDavid and Pen­guins cap­tain Sid­ney Crosby, who also was handed the “C” when he was 19.

“He’s an am­bas­sador of the game,” McLel­lan said of McDavid. “He un­der­stands his role.”

McDavid said back in Au­gust that he wanted to “show ev­ery­one that I’m not some 18-year-old kid any­more.”

Though he missed al­most half of last sea­son, McDavid per­formed on a level not seen from an 18-yearold since Crosby.

The Oil­ers hope a healthy McDavid and a re­vamped ros­ter will put an end to their decade-long post­sea­son drought.

Ed­mon­ton hasn’t qual­i­fied for the play­offs since 2006 and was last in the Western Con­fer­ence last sea­son de­spite the no­table ad­di­tions of McDavid, McLel­lan, and Cam Tal­bot, a No. 1 goal­tender who of­fered rare sta­bil­ity in the crease.

The Oil­ers made more changes in the off­sea­son, ac­quir­ing re­li­able de­fense­man Adam Larsson and 6-foot-3, 233-pound bruiser Mi­lan Lu­cic. They also se­lected Fin­land’s Jesse Pul­ja­jarvi with the fourth over­all pick at the June draft.

JA­SON FRANSON — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

The Ed­mon­ton Oil­ers on Wed­nes­day made 19-year-old Con­nor McDavid the youngest cap­tain in NHL his­tory.

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