"Don't change your game": Button's advice to McDavid differs from Torts

Nov 15 2021, 9:14 pm

John Tortorella had his take. Craig Button’s differed. 

Sixth-fastest to 600 points in NHL history? Surely there’d be little reason for Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid to tweak in that kind of approach. 

Hard to argue, Button suggested.

“The speed, the mind, the hands — you consider everything he does in the game… What baffles me is people go, ‘Oh he’s going to have to change his game,'” Button, a former NHL general manager and current analyst, said in a TSN segment on Sunday. 

“Connor, don’t change your game. Your game is amongst the best of all time. Just keep playing, and you keep playing the way you are, you will intersect with winning because not only are you a great player with all the requisite skills, you’re a great competitor, Connor McDavid.

“All you have to do is be yourself.”

Last week, Tortorella criticized McDavid, whose 421-game sprint to the 600-point plateau trails only Wayne Gretzky (274), Mario Lemieux (323), Peter Stastny (394), Mike Bossy (400) and Jari Kurri (419). 

“I do think he has to change his game a bit, not turn into a checker, obviously,” Tortorella said on ESPN’s Intermission show The Point on Thursday. “He’s talked about culture, he’s talked about standards, he’s talked about winning… You’re not just going to fill the net during playoffs and outscore teams. You have to play on the other side of the puck. You have to have that business-type attitude that ‘nothing’s going to bother me no matter how you’re going to check me.’”

Though McDavid has been beyond the first round just once with the Oilers, it’s hard to argue that lack of success falls on him. He’s averaged over a point-per-game in his playoff career, and has absolutely shredded NHL competition in the regular season.

McDavid, whose 14-game point streak is the Oilers’ longest to start a season since Gretzky (16 games) in 1984-85, has become increasingly speedy through his splits, too.

It took 92 games for him to reach 100 points, and 82 games to go from 101 to 200. He trimmed those figures further, going from 201 to 300 points in 68 games, and 301 to 400 points in 67 games. 

McDavid jumped from 401 to 500 points in just 64 games before shattering all previous marks by moving from 501 to 600 points in just 53 games. 

He’s the quickest active layer to the milestone, edging out Sidney Crosby’s 430 games played. 

Though he’s still seeking a Stanley Cup, McDavid is not without hardware either, winning the Art Ross Trophy three times (2017, 2018, 2021), the Hart Memorial Trophy twice (2017, 2021), and the Ted Lindsay Award three times (2017, 2018, 2021). 

Quite the haul for a six-season run.

“We should be very appreciative of what we’re seeing,” Button said. “We’re seeing one of the great players of all time and he continues to get better. His ability to impact a game in so many significant ways is unprecedented except when you talk about the very few great players that only exceed him in terms of their own brilliance.” 

Aaron VickersAaron Vickers

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