I figured I'd try my hand at a sports take today. I do work for Barstool SPORTS after all. I often forget that. Thankfully there is an army of people on Twitter who help remind us every time we accidently write about anything else.
I watched Game 1 of the Western Conference Semi-Finals between Edmonton and Las Vegas last night. I wish every game was played like that. It was the perfect game to watch. Back and forth action from start to finish, teams getting chance after chance, 10 total goals, and the pleasure of watching the best hockey player I've ever seen in Connor McDavid.**
** I don't remember watching Gretzky, and obviously Crosby has accomplished way more, but I don't recall Crosby in his prime being as dominant with the puck as Connor McDavid. That could be recency bias, but I don't remember any player sticking on out the ice like McDavid does. It's like watching a pee-wee hockey game where one team has the son of an ex-NHL player who is head and shoulders above the rest, and whenever he touches the puck you hold your breath because there's 50% chance of the puck ending up in the back of the net.
Which brings me to my point. The announcers last night talked A LOT about the matchup between Connor McDavid and Las Vegas forward Jack Eichel.
McDavid & Eichel were drafted 1 & 2 overall respectively in the 2015 NHL Draft, and because of that they've been compared to each other plenty. The announcers painted a picture of this series as an opportunity for Jack Eichel to personally take down Connor McDavid. They set it up as a chance for him to prove something to Edmonton. Like he has this chip on his shoulder about the Oilers drafting McDavid instead of him. Our co-worker Jordie literally wrote a blog this morning saying how this series is an opportunity for Eichel to get revenge on them for passing on him in the draft.
First off, I'm not even sure Jack Eichel feels that way. Eichel doesn't think he should have been drafted over McDavid does he? I can't imagine he does. And he's not going to prove anything to anyone. I don't care if Vegas sweeps the series 4-0. Eichel is not going to teach the Edmonton Oilers a lesson, and he's not going to "one-up" Connor McDavid. Sure his team can beat McDavid's team. He can beat the Oilers. He could even have more points than McDavid on the stat sheet, and after the series they might think, "Damn, they got us this time. That Jack Eichel kid is pretty damn good." But they're not going to second guess themselves. Is that what we're supposed to think is going to happen?
What is Eichel supposed to be "proving" to the Oilers anyways? That he's a great player? That he doesn't suck? That he's slightly closer, but still light years away, from being as good as McDavid? The Oilers don't think he sucks. They never did. I'm sure they think very highly of him. But if Vegas wins the series, it's not because Jack Eichel is getting the best of Connor McDavid. The series could be a blowout, and everybody who watched will still come away knowing that McDavid was the best player on the ice.
I'm not saying a series win over Edmonton won't feel extra special for Jack Eichel. Maybe that's all people are really trying to say. But I keep seeing this McDavid vs Eichel or Eichel vs Edmonton narrative being pushed like Eichel has an opportunity to prove everybody wrong. I'm sorry but that's just not on the table. It's a fun narrative, but acting like Eichel is holding this grudge against Edmonton can't be reality. It's insulting to Jack Eichel to act like he's delusional enough to be mad at Edmonton for not drafting him. Even if Las Vegas wins this series 4-0, and outscores Edmonton 35-7, all that tells me is that Vegas would have outscored them 45-4 if McDavid and Eichel switched teams. Fun storyline, but the two players are not comparable in the slightest.