Oilers Captain Andrew Ference has been around the league for some time. The veteran of over 900 NHL games has played with and against some of the league’s brightest stars.
The Oilers will bring in one of the next crop of those expected star players in Connor McDavid. The 2015 first-overall pick is highly touted by the hockey community and has been since he was a young boy. The 18-year-old centre will come to Edmonton with expectations and pressure placed on him by the media and the fans, but it’s nothing new to him.
As one of the leaders of the Oilers, Ference will undoubtedly provide counsel to the youngster. One of the things he wants McDavid to do is just have fun.
“There are some things you can relate to (with McDavid),” said Ference. “Obviously, your first year in the league. There are some things with him that not too many of us are going to be able to relate to. He’s dealt with things with tremendous maturity. He’s been incredibly impressive. Honestly, for the most part, it’s the off the ice stuff. It’s the day-to-day stuff and how to handle yourself, how to make sure that you have somewhat of a normal life outside of the rink and what not. To have that getaway from all that attention, from all that kind of spotlight. I think that’s the biggest thing. He’s a great kid. He’s a very nice man. He’s mature, he’s got his focus on the game. Give him an opportunity to be normal and have fun. Have fun with not only hockey but have fun growing up and living this life and making sure he’s doing things he gets fulfilment out of as well.”
The pressures of being a rookie in the NHL are great enough. Perhaps Ference is onto something with his advice. Everybody needs an escape.