This in from Edmonton Oilers forward James Neal, his thoughts from the NHL playoff bubble at The Players Tribune site, where he talks about the championship leadership quality of Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl.
Neal starts out by relating a story about how McDavid as a 16-year-old held back from going full speed as he practiced with older NHLers at a Gary Roberts’ camp because young McD didn’t want to show them up. “Even as a junior, he was already the best player on our ice. And Connor is such a nice kid that he just didn’t want to embarrass anyone.”
Neal then praised McDavid’s otherworldly speed, as well as his character. “Him and Leon, they’re both just on another planet. Having those two as your catalysts, you know you’re in good hands. I know they were disappointed with the way things went last year, and they’ve been on a mission to get back to the playoffs. And now that we’re here, I’m excited to see what they’ve got up their sleeves. Those are two tough, competitive guys, who have what it takes — not just to be winners, but to be champions.”
Neal also added one thought he tries to pass on as a veteran leader: “One of the biggest things that I’ve tried to pass down to our younger guys is something I’ve learned about pressure. You’ve got to want the pressure.”