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McDavid says not skating is toughest part of pause to Oilers season

Center leaning on family, friends with NHL on hold

by Tim Campbell @TimNHL / NHL.com Staff Writer

Connor McDavid knows how much work regaining his elite skating ability will require whenever he gets back on the ice if the NHL season resumes following a pause due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.

The Edmonton Oilers center, who was off skates for more than three months this offseason after tearing the PCL ligament in his left knee in Edmonton's final game of the 2018-19 season, said he has rarely been off the ice for this long.

"It's always tough when you're off the ice for a while when you've got to come back because you can't replicate the type of cardio that you need to play hockey and you can't really replicate skating at all," McDavid said. "You can run as many stairs, or bike as many whatever on your spin bike as you want, but you can't replicate it at all."

"Going through the injury last summer, I was off my skates for a long time. It's looking like we're going to be that type of situation here, so maybe I can lean on that experience a little bit."

McDavid and the Oilers haven't played or practiced for more than four weeks. Their last game was March 11, a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at Rogers Place. The next day, the NHL paused the season.

The 23-year-old had 97 points (34 goals, 63 assists) in 64 games and was second in the NHL behind teammate Leon Draisaitl, who had 110 points (43 goals, 67 assists) in 71 games.

McDavid, the Hart Trophy winner voted NHL MVP in 2016-17 and Art Ross Trophy winner as scoring champion in 2016-17 and 2017-18, said he's focusing on training for the resumption of the season, if it were to occur.

"It's important to get the guys back on the ice as soon as possible and make sure everyone gets the time they need to get back up and running and make sure it's safe to return to play for everybody," the Edmonton captain said.

Video: WPG@EDM: McDavid beats a sprawling Hellebuyck

The NHL is examining multiple scenarios for the potential resumption of the regular season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Oilers (37-25-9), who did not qualify for the playoffs last season, are in second place in the Pacific Division, three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights and four points ahead of the Calgary Flames.

"We think if we were required to, we might have the ability to play in August," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has said. "If we have to fit games in, we'll find ways to fit games in."

McDavid said that as eager as he might be for a return to the ice, he's mindful that safe conditions for a return are essential, that social distancing and good decisions remain important.

"Mentally it's tough for everyone," McDavid said. "That kind of makes me feel better that we're all in this thing together and it's not just one person stuck inside, it's everyone. This is when you lean on your family, your friends and all your loved ones. I'm calling my parents all the time, calling my brother all the time. I've got buddies back home I'm always talking to. This is where you need to lean on your loved ones, not only for yourself but to make sure they're OK as well.

"We all need to help each other through this crazy time and we do that by staying in contact whether it's Zoom or FaceTime or whatever. I've definitely been doing that a lot."

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