Bobby Orr to Connor McDavid: Don't lose passion
Team Orr’s Connor McDavid skates into the Team Cherry end during the CHL’s top prospects game Thursday night in St. Catharines. (Bob Tymczyszyn/QMI Agency)
As Connor McDavid’s agent, National Hockey League legend Bobby Orr has some sage advice for the 18-year-old.
Orr’s words could be extended to the other 39 players who took part in the Canadian Hockey League’s top prospects game on Thursday night.
“The big thing with Connor and any of these kids is don’t ever lose the love of passion for the game,” Orr said.
“This game can’t be a job. I never looked at it as a job. I loved to go practice, loved to play. A lot of these kids get pressure put on them and they just lose the passion for the game. That’s what really hurts them.”
It would appear that there is no fear of that happening with McDavid. As it is the majority of the top players in the game, the native of Newmarket, Ont., puts a lot on his own shoulders, but he acknowledged that his passion has grown as he has become a superstar in major junior with the Erie Otters.
“I would say so, yeah, but it’s pretty hard to think it has,” McDavid said. “I love the game so much and I work hard at it. I have a lot of fun with it, just playing junior and being with your buddies all the time. It’s hard not to fall in love with it.”
McDavid does not take his relationship with Orr for granted. They don’t see each other much during the season as Orr keeps homes in Boston and Florida, but they text and call each other often.
When they are in communication, Orr usually reminds McDavid to manage his time well.
“I’m lucky to have him around in my life,” McDavid said. “He has done anything a hockey player wants to do, he has done it all. If there is one guy you can go to talk to, he is a pretty darn good one.”
When Orr has been in Massachusetts, he has had an opportunity to watch forward Jack Eichel play at Boston University. As much as McDavid has the top spot in his grasp for the 2015 NHL draft, the same can be said of Eichel and the second pick.
“That second pick this year will be an easy one,” Orr said with a smile. “Jack is a good player.”
Don Cherry also was clear in what he thought of the comparison between McDavid and Eichel.
“(Eichel) is a nice kid,” Cherry said. “But you guys have made him up ... who is going to be No. 1? These guys, what are they smoking? Nice kid, but there is no comparison with McDavid.
“I have seen (McDavid) since he was 15 and you could see right off the bat he had that magic. I think he will (make an impact in the NHL right away). They will be running him and he has to expect that.”
What does Orr think awaits McDavid as an NHL rookie, no matter what team drafts him?
“He knows to play in the NHL next year he has to get stronger,” Orr said. “When you get with the big boys, you better be. He does not put himself in positions a lot to battle much. He plays a different game.
“These kids are all skilled, but think of what they do (in junior). Most of them play weekend games, and (in the NHL), you are going on the road, the consecutive games, you come home for a night, play the next day. It’s a tough grind.
“That’s a big part these kids have to get used to.”
HERE COMES THE MCBRIDE
As much as he aspires to play in the NHL one day, Nick McBride still can’t help but be a fan.
Specifically of fellow netminders James Reimer of the Maple Leafs and Thomas Greiss of the Pittsburgh Penguins, with whom McBride trains during the summer in Kelowna, B.C.
McBride, a B.C. native who plays for Prince Albert of the Western Hockey League, has known Reimer for a couple of years. They train under Adam Francilia.
“James usually is a pretty happy guy and upbeat, and he is good to train with,” McBride said. “Funny guy, likes to joke around.
“It’s great to know what it takes to compete and be a solid goaltender at that level. You see what they do, how hard they train. I would like to be more like that.”