March 2, 2016
The first installment of Jack vs Connor is complete, and it was an incredible display of what the NHL’s future may hold.
Eichel is a dazzling talent, stick-handling with that slick Giroux-like sling and whip. He is an impressive skater and is more than willing to get to the difficult areas of the ice to make plays. His teammates already defer to him as the most talented player on the team and the focal point of their offensive attack.
Jack Eichel is a very, very good hockey player, one with all the tools and skill you would hope for in a franchise player. The Buffalo Sabers are, understandably, tickled pink that this talented young man is theirs, possibly for the better part of two decades.
But Jack Eichel, as good as he is and as good as he will be, is not even close to the greatness that is Connor McDavid.
In almost every category of skill and ability, McDavid’s star overwhelms Eichel’s candle.
Speed. Vision. Hands. Passing. Awareness. Responsibility. Leadership. Attack.
This is no slight to Eichel. He might even be the better pure shooter of the two. I certainly don’t begrudge him any of the fanfare he’s received and I wish him the best in Buffalo.
Nevertheless, the mainstream media will soon need to take a step back and re-examine the McDavid vs. Eichel hype machine, because frankly, there’s no competition here to observe.
Let me explain. When it comes to Crosby v. Ovechkin, we have been privileged to witness two titans of the modern hockey era trading legitimate blows for over a decade now. Ovechkin won the Calder and took the early edge; Crosby swung back into supremacy with multiple seasons of all-around dominance; Ovechkin’s insane goal-scoring chops pulled him back on top; Crosby has more recently put together an inspired surge. Throughout their careers, these two superstars have kept the rivalry close, making it legitimate, marketable, and entertaining.
And really, those three components are necessary for any rivalry: legitimacy, marketability, and entertainment value.
Already (yes, only one game in), it is not fair to Jack Eichel to continue this comparison between him and Connor McDavid. Both players have made little of the “debate”, have been annoyed by the media focus on it, and have done their best to distance themselves from giving it serious consideration. Eichel especially seems perturbed whenever he is asked a question about his supposed rival.
— Mike Harrington (@BNHarrington) March 2, 2016
Guess what? I agree with Harrington; it is understandable that Eichel would be brusque. He knows, just like everyone else who is watching this “rivalry”, that he is not in McDavid’s class. The only reason he has to face all the scrutiny about it is because the media has turned it into something it never was. He’s forced to answer questions about something that doesn’t exist. But where Eichel is wrong is that it’s the team game that negates rivalries.
It doesn’t. Lack of competition does.
One more thing…
So… is this what it was like watching Gretzky? CCing any Oiler fan in his 40s.
— Brian King (@Kinger999) March 2, 2016
I feel like I will be hit by lightning if I say “Yes”, but… yes. It was pretty much just like this. https://t.co/JDtAshBeAK
— Colby Cosh (@colbycosh) March 2, 2016
This is the biggest reason to keep watching as this disappointing season winds down. And you know what, for me, it’s really more than McDavid.
Taylor Hall. Leon Draisaitl. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. Jordan Eberle. Nail Yakupov.
Oscar Klefbom. Brandon Davidson. Darnell Nurse.
You know what? I’ll throw Zach Kassian and Patrick Maroon in there too for their unique skillsets.
The Oilers have lost many games this year. But consider the players they have on their roster – they really are one of the most entertaining teams in the NHL, capable of putting a tremendous array of talent on the ice every night. With Klefbom and Nugent-Hopkins returning from injury, we should certainly see an increase in the frequency and consistency of quality performances.
Who knows? This could actually be kind of fun.