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McDavid declined surgery to play this season for Oilers

Oilers center leading NHL in scoring, at All-Star Game after knee injury nine months ago

by Mike Zeisberger @Zeisberger / Staff Writer

ST. LOUIS -- Connor McDavid said he was able to play in the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game because he chose to not have knee surgery nine months ago.

"I feel real good," the Edmonton Oilers center said Friday. "I don't think I would be sitting here at the All-Star Game if I wasn't. … I feel good on the ice and feel happy to be playing."

McDavid, who was captain of the winning Pacific Division in the 3-on-3 tournament held at Enterprise Center on Saturday, was told surgery would have caused him to miss the entire 2019-20 NHL season.

"Obviously I was a 22-year-old kid at the time, and you never want to miss a season," he said. "You never want to go through a surgery -- I'm not going to call it risky -- but there were a lot of questions. It's not like it's an ACL where doctors can almost do that in their sleep. It's a PCL. Only a few doctors have done that and it's not like it's been mastered."

McDavid injured his left knee slamming into the goal post during the Oilers season finale against the Calgary Flames on April 6. The damage included multiple tears in the knee and a broken tibia.

He turned to those he was closest to for advice, a small group that included his family and his fitness trainer, former NHL forward Gary Roberts. Working with Dr. Mark Lindsay and a team of physiotherapists, McDavid focused on a rehab program with the goal of being back for the start of the season.

"There were days when it didn't feel that good going through that process," McDavid said. "You're like, 'Uh, I wonder what the MRI is going to look like? Should we go back and do the surgery and start over?' But it just kept progressing and progressing and ultimately we didn't have to go through the surgery route."

McDavid leads the NHL with 76 points (27 goals, 49 assists), one point ahead of linemate Leon Draisaitl. Edmonton, which has not made the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2017, its only appearance since 2006, is tied for second in the Pacific Division, one point behind the Vancouver Canucks.

"We're having some success," he said. "Just to be on the ice and be a part of it, it's fun."

Video: EDM@VGK: McDavid pots Draisaitl's feed for PPG

McDavid's recovery story became public during a promo for the documentary "Connor McDavid: Whatever It Takes," which aired in full on Sportsnet after the 2020 NHL All-Star Skills presented by New Amsterdam Vodka on Friday. He had four assists in two games Saturday to help the Pacific Division win the All-Star Game.

"The main focus was to get healthy," he said. "Didn't want any more pressure, the media, any more questions. … It was actually really nice just to focus on myself and not have to answer any questions and the pressure of all the media. 

"Different way to go about it. I understand that rubbed some media the wrong way. It's not like we were trying to hide anything. And ultimately we didn't know all the answers to all the questions. It was a process that was always progressing, always moving."

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