NHL superstar Connor McDavid: Ready to become Canada's next Olympic icon

Connor McDavid has been lighting up the NHL for years and now he's set to bring his magical mercurial hockey to the Olympic stage. Here are five reasons why McDavid can follow Sidney Crosby down the Olympic Hall of Fame.

By Ken Browne
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Connor McDavid is an Olympic icon in-the-making.

Blazing speed, dizzying skills, and a Hollywood highlight reel have ice hockey fans everywhere salivating now that NHL players are back at the Olympics and McDavid could be playing with Sidney Crosby on the Canadian team.

Captain of the Edmonton Oilers, three-time Art Ross Trophy winner as NHL top scorer, four time NHL All-Star, three-time winner of the Ted Lindsay Trophy - voted best player in the league by fellow players - and only the second man ever to be unanimously voted the league's MVP by hockey writers (the first being Wayne Gretzky).

No wonder then that many consider McDavid to be the best ice hockey player on the planet right now, and at 24 (He'll be 25 at the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games) there's so much more to come.

While the Oilers leader has yet to lift the Stanley Cup, even Gretzky says it's a matter of time.

The 'Great One', who held the coveted Stanley Cup aloft four times, has said that the Oilers captain is simply too good not to win it, but McDavid could even go one better than Gretzky by winning Olympic gold with Canada and a Stanley Cup title in the same year.

Five reasons why Connor McDavid can become Canada's Olympic bannerman

There's no doubting McDavid's talent and commitment to the game but can he do it on an Olympic stage? Here are five reasons why McDavid can own the next few Winter Olympic Games.

1. Teamwork

McDavid might have an eye-watering individual highlight reel and an ability to score single-handed coast-to-coast goals that'll live forever in online compilations, but he is at heart a team player who thrives on winning as a group.

For Connor McDavid it isn't all about Connor McDavid. That's clear from his stats.

In every single season in both the OHL and the NHL he's rung up more assists than goals, most recently scoring 33 goals and laying on 72 assists in the 2020/21 NHL season.

His NHL tally ahead of the Olympic season stands at 195 goals and 379 assists.

He's a proven team player and his uncanny understanding of the movement and natural positioning of his teammates allow him to pull off the kind of backwards through-the-legs no-look assists that have been dropping jaws around the globe for years.

It's hardly a surprise that growing up one of his favourite players to watch and learn from was Tyler Bozak during his time at the Maple Leafs. Bozak's skating and 'pass first' mentality were things McDavid tried to emulate.

When it comes to the Olympics and you have a group of All-Stars who haven't had much time to play together, players who put the team first are worth their weight in gold.

2. Teammates: Connor McDavid and Sidney Crosby together

Of course, McDavid can't do it all alone, but he'll be surrounded by the best Canada has to offer at Beijing 2022 as they aim to reclaim the crown they wore at Vancouver 2010 and Sochi 2014.

At the most recent Winter Games - PyeongChang 2018 - the Olympic Athletes from Russia won gold, defeating surprise package Germany after their white-knuckle ride to the final.

The Germans pulled off a major upset by defeating the red and whites in the semi-final but Canada salvaged some pride by overcoming the Czechs in the bronze medal match.

That, however, was without their NHL stars, and it'll be a different story in China.

When Team Canada general manager Doug Armstrong announced the first three names on Canada's Olympic roster on 3 October 2021 it was already clear that Team Canada would send chills and thrills through the hockey world before they even stepped on the ice.

McDavid (Centre), Vegas Golden Knights defenceman Alex Pietrangelo and another centre Sidney Crosby were the first names on the Canada's initial roster, and ice hockey fans' dream of seeing McDavid and Crosby on the same team will finally come through.

For McDavid, he couldn't have a better teammate or mentor than two-time Olympic gold medallist Sidney Crosby who is aiming to win a third gold medal.

Already a cast-iron Canadian Olympic icon, Crosby scored an immortal winning goal in overtime against the USA at the Vancouver 2010 final during Canada's home Games, then captained his country to a second successive Olympic title in Sochi four years later.

'Sid the Kid' is now 34 years of age and he needs the new generation like McDavid as much as they need him.

Watching them on the same team will be a highlight of the 2022 Games.

3. McDavid's international pedigree and Olympic dreams

Sidney Crosby isn't the only one with international ice hockey experience though.

Throughout the junior international ranks Connor McDavid has racked up wins and trophies at every single age group.

World U18 champion in 2013, World Junior champ in 2015 and senior World Championships winner in 2016, McDavid has proved that he can make his mark in big international tournaments.

Along with the Stanley Cup, a young McDavid dreamed of winning Olympic gold, now he'll get his chance.

4. Connor McDavid: Showtime

Yes McDavid can do it, but he can do it in style too, and if he can light up the Olympics the way he does the NHL week-in, week-out, then he'll already be on his way to Mount Olympus.

McDavid's global appeal is clear from the EA Sports NHL cover he was given in 2018, and then there was the time his house, which was designed by his interior design girlfriend, went viral.

No stranger to hitting the headlines internationally, he'll hope to make them for all the right reasons on his Olympic debut.

5. His age

Born in January 1997, McDavid is young enough to - theoretically - play in two or three more Olympic Games and etch his own legacy onto Olympic history.

When the 2026 Milano Cortina roll around McDavid will still be in his prime at 27 or 28, and the 2030 Games will be well within the best years of his career too.

Three gold medals would be possible, and there's very little doubt that he'll leave hockey fans a few unforgettable moments along the way.

It all begins at Beijing 2022 where ice hockey will run from 4-20 February.