The first NHL regular-season game between Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby will not take place until next season after McDavid sustained a fractured clavicle Tuesday that will sideline him for months.
"You could tell he was really starting to get comfortable and feeling good out there, so it's definitely unfortunate, just kind of a fluky thing," Crosby said Wednesday after the morning skate prior to playing at the Vancouver Canucks.
Crosby and Pittsburgh play at Edmonton on Friday; the Oilers visit the Penguins on Nov. 28.
McDavid was injured late in the second period against the Philadelphia Flyers, when he hit the end boards after taking a shot while being defended by Flyers defensemen Brandon Manning and Michael Del Zotto.
"It's one thing to go into the boards like that, but most times you don't have two guys following you up to have that happen," Crosby said. "So that's unfortunate, and hopefully he can recover soon and get back out there."
McDavid, the No. 1 pick in the 2015 NHL Draft, was to have surgery Wednesday. It is unknown when he will be able to play again. He and Crosby could face each other this season only in the Stanley Cup Final.
"I knew (McDavid was injured) as soon as he went into the boards," Wayne Gretzky told ESPN on Wednesday. "They're so fast and big now in today's NHL. It's incredible how fast the game is. From the positive side, I'm just glad the two Flyers players did nothing illegal on the play; it was a hockey play gone bad."
McDavid, 18, was named NHL Rookie of the Month for October, when he had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in his first 12 games.
"He had already shown everybody that A) he belongs in the NHL, and B) he’s an elite player," Gretzky said. "Every time he’s on the ice, he makes something happen. Just as important, he thrives under the microscope, he thrives under pressure. And I think he took a lot of pressure off a lot of the other young guys there. They’ve been flourishing also. That’s as good as I’ve seen [Taylor] Hall play and [Nail] Yakupov. So Connor is definitely a huge part of that group now. That's what is probably so devastating for everyone."