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MAIN CAMP: McDavid pushing the pace

Despite not playing in games yet, the Oilers captain drove the up-tempo nature of the Kelowna practices

by Ryan Frankson /

KELOWNA, BC - Connor McDavid's pre-season prognosis may still be up in the air, but that hasn't stopped the Oilers captain from pushing the pace during Training Camp practices with his prolific speed.

McDavid continues to round into regular season form as he's in the final stages of recovery from the knee injury he suffered in the final game of the 2018-19 regular season last April in Calgary.

And while his teammates have had the luxury of getting into some pre-season matchups, McDavid must make the most of his practice sessions since he has not yet been officially cleared for game action.

"I'm trying to push myself too," McDavid said of the up-tempo skates the team had at Prospera Place in Kelowna as part of their weekend retreat. "Everyone's played games by now. I'm the only one that hasn't, so I've got to make sure I'm ready to go when the time comes."

The time, as he referenced, may come later this week as the team has three more pre-season games on the schedule starting Tuesday at home against the Arizona Coyotes. The time could also be Wednesday, Oct. 2 when the Oilers open the regular season against the Vancouver Canucks.

"There was lots of uncertainty with the injury and lots of different stuff going on in the summer," McDavid said. "To feel good on the ice is something I'm really happy about and the fact that we're even talking about games is something I'm really proud of."

Video: RAW | Connor McDavid 09.23.19

Head Coach Dave Tippett said McDavid's speed and tempo this weekend were just what the squad needed to make the most of their on-ice sessions.

"He sets the pace out there, which is nice because the other guys have to make sure they're trying to catch up to that pace," Tippett said. "He picks up the whole pace of practice.

"Our practices have had lots of that game action in it, so I think he's just feeling more confident, feeling like he can jump into something and not think about his injury."

The bench boss said the team's medical staff will meet again later on Monday to assess McDavid's status heading into the final pre-season games this week.

"He would like to get into some games before the end of the week, but it comes down to making sure the doctors have clearance," Tippett said. "It'll be a group discussion. He's got to be comfortable with it, the doctors have got to be comfortable with it. They'll come to Ken, Ken will come to me, we'll talk about it and see if it's the right thing to do."

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