Connor McDavid asked Wayne Gretzky what it's like to win the Stanley Cup in Edmonton during an interview they did together for GQ Sports. Gretzky's answer to the Edmonton Oilers captain included a prediction.
"When you guys do win -- and you will win a Stanley Cup -- the feeling is just over the top," Gretzky said. "You work your whole life to do that, because even at a young age you probably said, 'Connor McDavid scored in overtime, Game 7, I got the winning goal.' And if you lost you probably said, 'OK, we're going to play again.' So, you always won. But when you actually lift the Cup, it's pretty special, and you will lift it one day because you're too good."
Gretzky, who won the Stanley Cup four times with the Oilers in the 1980s, got together with McDavid for GQ during NHL All-Star Weekend in St. Louis in late January. There are questions being asked of them, but much of the interview consists of McDavid and Gretzky conversing with each other.
They talked about the first time they spoke with one another, a phone call from Gretzky to McDavid when the latter was 16 years old and in his first season with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League.
"I think you broke a record, you did something pretty special, which you seemed to do every night," Gretzky said. "So, I remember I called to congratulate you and you were with a bunch of buddies at a movie. You would have been 16, first year of junior. I remember thinking, 'Wow, it seemed like yesterday I was 16 playing junior hockey.'"
McDavid told Gretzky he remembers the conversation well.
"I was in the car with my roommate and we were picking someone up and obviously the music is going," McDavid said. "I answer the call and it's, 'Connor, it's Wayne Gretzky.' I'm like, 'Turn the music down, turn the music down.' It was the weirdest thing. They were like, 'Who was that, why are you making such a big deal?' … I thought I was being punked and then I'm like, 'I think that was Wayne Gretzky.' They're like, 'No way.' I'm pretty sure it was."
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They talked about the pressure of playing in Edmonton, with Gretzky telling McDavid what he went through was different.
"The reality was, although there was a lot of focus on me, you were a can't-miss No. 1 pick at 16," Gretzky said. "At 16 and 17 I still had half the hockey world saying, 'Well, I'm not sure if he can play, he might be too small, might be too slow.' My path, my journey was a little different than yours because you had so much pressure. … Your pressure came from within, having to be successful and having to live up to the expectations. Each and every year you've gotten better and delivered. I don't think people realize the pressure and microscope that guys like you and Sidney Crosby and Mario [Lemieux]. When they come into the League it's a lot harder than people think."
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Gretzky and McDavid also talked to each other and the interviewer about early highlights in their NHL careers.
For Gretzky, it was his first face-off in his first NHL game on Oct. 10, 1979 against Stan Mikita, the Hall of Famer from the Chicago Blackhawks who was Gretzky's father's favorite player.
For McDavid, it was his first game against Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins on Nov. 8, 2016. McDavid had three assists in a 4-3 loss.
"When I first played Sid, that was really exciting for me," McDavid said. "My first year I got hurt and missed both games against Sid. So, my second year I got to go into Pittsburgh and play against Sid. We took the opening draw and I was watching him during the anthem, I'm like, 'Oh my God, that's Sidney Crosby over there and I'm about to play against him.' Then the face-off, I don't even think my stick touched the ice, he swept it back so fast. That was a special moment for sure."