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FEATURE: Oilers teammates revere McDavid's determined recovery

"It speaks volumes of his character, his determination and his discipline to get up and running," forward Zack Kassian said of Connor McDavid's off-season recovery

by Paul Gazzola /

EDMONTON, AB - Simply put, Connor McDavid does whatever it takes.

If that wasn't common knowledge before the airing of 'Connor McDavid: Whatever It Takes' it is now. 

The documentary chronicled the Oilers Captain's rigorous off-season rehabilitation for his Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) injury, which he suffered in Game 82 of the 2018-19 campaign against the Calgary Flames.

No. 97 spoke about the documentary during the 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend and on Sunday at Rogers Place, his teammates did the same.

McDavid is already exalted in the Oilers Dressing Room but the documentary only augmented the amount of respect the team has for their leader. 

Video: OILERS TODAY | Sneaky Bag Skate 01.26.20

Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett, defenceman Darnell Nurse and forward Zack Kassian have yet to watch the captain's comeback story but commented on it following Sunday's skate at Rogers Place - which McDavid did participate in despite returning from St. Louis, MO, earlier in the day.

"I didn't get to watch it but I remember doing the interview process," Kassian, who appears in the doc, said.

"It's pretty truthful and pretty honest. Pretty cool to see how hard he had to work to get back just to play hockey again. I don't think the public eye really knew, I don't think you guys (media) really knew. A lot of his teammates didn't know. 

"He put in a lot of time, a lot of effort and basically sacrificed his whole summer to get up and running and be ready to go for the start of the season. That just shows what type of person he is."

Nurse is good friends with McDavid and a fellow Ontario product. The rearguard said he communicated with McDavid over the summer but didn't know all the specific details of the injury and the therapy required. 

In the documentary, McDavid is provided with surgical or non-surgical options to rehabilitate and repair the injury. It was the Newmarket product's decision to go the non-surgical route, which necessitated extensive rehab.

Video: RAW | Nurse

"I was aware of some of the decisions," said Nurse. "I knew, just in talking to him at different points of the summer, some of the things that were going on. He's an unbelievable talent but at the same time, he shows the commitment to his teammates that he wanted to get back so early."

Kassian, for the most part, was in the same boat as Nurse when it came to the information available.

"He was pretty tight-lipped about it but I knew somewhat the extent of the injury," the Oilers winger, who served his two-game suspension and will be back in the lineup against the Flames on Wednesday, said.

"I didn't know it was as serious as it was or the decisions he had to make in such a short time. It speaks volumes of his character, his determination and his discipline to get up and running, not only for the start of the season but to be in elite form, essentially, and be back to himself. Almost even better."

Video: RAW | Kassian

For Oilers Head Coach Dave Tippett, the narrative is nothing short of unbelievable. McDavid - who endured a demanding regimen to be ready for the Oilers 2019-20 home opener - returned to the ice in the best form he's ever performed at. 

The centre leads the National Hockey League in assists and points with 49 and 76, respectively, in 49 games.

"It's a pretty amazing story when you go through it and hear the different options," Tippett said. "The option he chose was probably the toughest option for him to go through but the shortest amount of time. 

"Him willing to put that work in was an amazing feat on his part."

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