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Why I won’t cheer for the Oilers

May 29th,2024 | Opinion

I may be the only Canadian hockey fan not cheering for Connor McDavid and the Oilers – Canada’s last remaining chance to bring the cup home since 1993. 

Let me tell you why. 

Yes, part of it is because I’m a Calgary Flames fan and the Oilers are public enemy number one, but it’s not about the NHL playoffs; I won’t be cheering for McDavid when he plays for Team Canada during the 2026 Olympics in Italy, either.

It has nothing to do with his play – he’s clearly the best player in the game, but it’s what he says off the ice – or what he doesn’t say – that makes me want to cheer against him and his teammate, disgraced NHLer Evander Kane. 

When the Oilers picked up Kane in 2022, he came with a Zamboni full of off-ice baggage: allegations of sexual assault, a lawsuit over gambling debts, a suspension for forging a COVID-19 vaccination passport, allegations that he was betting on his own games and domestic abuse allegations filed by his ex-wife Anna Kane.  

But what happened in 2022 after the Oilers signed him is the reason I won’t ever cheer for McDavid or any team that he’s on. 

When McDavid was asked about Kane’s off-ice troubles in January 2022, he said he doesn’t read too much into what happens off the ice. 

“Obviously, Evander is an amazing player, and he’s had lots of success over the last couple of years,” McDavid said. “Whatever else is going on, it’s not something I look into much.” He told reporters at the time that winning was more important than anything else: “The public opinion is something that obviously matters a lot, but we’re here to win games.” 

McDavid is the face of the league – the swift skating, boyish good-looker who has the attention of every young hockey player in the world. Given his prominence within the NHL, what is he teaching these kids with his tone-deaf comments?

He’s telling them that it doesn’t matter what they do off the ice – be it alleged sexual assaults like we saw with Hockey Canada’s 2018 world junior team or tossing a disabled person’s wheelchair down the stairs like what NHL prospect Carson Brière, the son of Flyers general manager Daniel Brière, did in 2023 – as long as they can score goals, they will be just fine. Now, he’s pasted on every sports gambling ad, encouraging fans to bet on games. What a role model!

It’s been a problem in hockey for, well, forever. Big prospects get a pass when they do bad things. Look at Logan Mailloux, the young prospect who was charged in Sweden in 2021 for sharing a naked photo of a woman without her consent. He even told interested teams not to draft him because he wanted to spend time working on his behaviour before getting a shot at the big leagues. Every team seemed to listen to Mailloux’s own advice and passed on him — except the Montreal Canadiens scooped him up – again sending the message that his offensive prowess trumped his off-ice troubles. 

Until players like McDavid take a true stand against sexual assault and domestic violence in hockey, nothing will ever change. 

Go, Dallas, go Florida, go New York – anyone but Evander Kane, Connor McDavid and the Oilers.

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