Connor McDavid is feeling way too damn good. His Edmonton Oilers entered the NHL’s All-Star break on a 16-game win streak, he’s getting married this summer, and he’s one million dollars richer, having just won the Dr. Evil-approved cash prize after dominating the skills challenge—for the fourth time in seven years—at All-Star Weekend in his hometown of Toronto.
At 27, he’s come a long way since entering the NHL as the painfully shy prodigy tipped as “The Next One.” And these days, reigning MVP Connor McDavid is unafraid to share his opinions. And when he speaks the hockey world listens, whether he’s pushing for the NHL to return to the Winter Olympics—plans for which, as it happens, were just announced over the weekend—or expressing his unabashed love of Nickelback. He’s less concerned about chasing points and more focused on team wins—but when he wants to, he can still crush the league’s best players at talent showcases. This is how he reminds us of what he really is: one of the greatest to ever do it.
As he embarks on the second half of the season, McDavid opened up about his style evolution, his friendship with Chad Kroeger, catching up to Wayne Gretzky’s records, and his wedding plans.
It’s gotten better, for sure. I definitely have a lot of help now. When they ask who’s the worst dressed on the team, my name never comes up anymore. So, I’d say that’s an improvement.
So who’s the worst dressed on the team now?
Who’s the worst dressed in Edmonton? I’m going to go with just a good Alberta boy in Brett Kulak. He doesn’t care too much about what he’s wearing. He’s just a good Alberta boy.
Who’s the NHL’s fit king right now?
I’m gonna go with Auston Matthews. He’s got some wild outfits. But he pulls them off.
I feel people are paying more attention to what hockey players are wearing than ever before.
I would say there’s been a change in style [around the league] for sure. I think the old suit-and-tie, dress-shoe combo has definitely gone out the window. You’re seeing some guys bring some cool looks, try some different things, which is great for the game. The stereotype about hockey guys is we’re just boring. You’re seeing some guys break that trend, and one of the ways they’re doing that is with their style and showing off a little bit of personality.
I hear you’re a big fan of Nickelback.
I mean, I am a huge fan of Nickelback. They bring me back to my childhood days of being in the car with my dad on the way to a game and stuff like that. He would just be blasting Nickelback.
Are you and Chad Kroeger boys? Do you guys hang?
Yeah, we know each other. I wouldn’t say we’re hanging out every day or calling each other every day, but, yeah, we have a bit of a relationship. I guess it runs back to the Junos last year. [Ed.: the Junos are Canada’s Grammys.] They asked me to present them with their Hall of Fame honor and then they did the same thing for me at Canada’s Walk of Fame earlier this year. It’s kind of funny how it’s worked out, but I like those guys a lot. And I really do feel that they’re a great band. One of the best bands of all time, for sure.
You’re aware that’s a controversial statement, right?
I know, I know. I feel like it was almost like a fad to hate Nickelback there for a little while. But I think everybody, deep down, secretly loves them.
What’s your favorite Nickelback song of all time?
Um, that’s a good one. I could go a lot of different ways with it. I can think about songs that bring up childhood memories with my family. I can think of songs that get me pumped up for a game. But, I think I’m going to go with ”This Afternoon.” I like that one a lot.
Wow, that’s a deep cut. I don’t even know that one.
It’s good. They grew up in Alberta, so that song has a little bit of that Alberta flair in it.
When Nickelback played Edmonton last year, Chad told the crowd he wants to party with the Oilers when they win the Stanley Cup. He said, and I quote, “Connor and I are going to do all kinds of terrible things to that fucking Cup when that boy hoists it up.” What kinds of terrible things do you think he was talking about?
That’s a heck of a question. You’re gonna have to take that up with him. [Laughs] I don’t know what he had in mind there, but if we win the Cup, he can do whatever he wants to it. It would just be an honor to hopefully one day raise that thing. I’ve dreamt about that since I was a kid and to do it in Edmonton would be really special.
Are you going to ask Nickelback to play your wedding this summer with your fiancée, Lauren Kyle?
I don’t know. We’re in the middle of some wedding planning right now. Entertainment is still something we’ve got to figure out. Actually, I guess we don’t have to figure it out; we’ve got a couple surprises. But I’m not sure Nickelback is going to be there. We’ll have to see.
What kind of surprises?
Well, if Lauren found out I was telling people, she’d be mad. She wants to keep it a surprise for everybody that’s going to be there.
What role are you playing in the wedding planning?
Not a huge one. I’ve got to make sure that I’ve got my guys dressed, looking good and heading down the aisle on time. That’s been my role so far. Maybe Lauren will ask for some help as we get a little closer. But so far, it’s been easy.
Nice! What does getting your guys dressed look like?
I’m using a company out of Montreal called Cloakroom. They do some custom stuff and I’m getting all the guys some nice black suits to look good on the big day. We bounced around a couple of different ideas. It’s going to be a summer wedding, so I was worried about the fellas being too hot. I was suggesting something a little bit lighter and not black suits. But ultimately, Lauren wanted something a little bit more traditional and that’s the way we’re going to go.
What are you going to be wearing?
Lauren wants it to be more of a classic black suit. A tuxedo-like fit. So I think that’s what we’re going with.
Will you be rocking sneakers with the suit?
No, no, I don’t think so. She wants it to be clean cut. A little more traditional.
My brother and I grew up watching Friends, like, every day. We had all of the seasons on DVD. We would just watch all of it and as soon as we got to the end, we’d start it again. We’ve watched it top to bottom so many times.
Who’s your favorite character? \
I’m going to go with Ross. I think he’s hilarious. His sense of humor just cracks me up.
Friends has been experiencing a resurgence among Gen Z lately. How do you explain it?
Well, it’s just about normal people. You’re just watching normal people go about their lives. And I think it’s just relatable for a lot of different people. When you watch it, you can see yourself in some of the characters and how they handle certain situations. It’s hilarious. It’s a show I think people will love for a long, long time.
I hear you’ve been keeping another ’90s tradition alive: rollerblading.
[Laughs] I love it. I grew up rollerblading. As a kid growing up in Toronto, it’s not always easy to get ice time. There’s so much demand for it. If I couldn’t be on the ice, rollerblading was the closest thing to it. I still do it at home in my sports court. I’m always rollerblading there. My dad loves it, too, so it’s always fun to rollerblade with him. That’s what we did all the time when I was growing up.
Has blading been the secret to your success all along?
[Laughs] I would say it’s helped me with turning. Obviously, you can’t stop on rollerblades. So being able to slow yourself down and keep your speed while turning is something that you’ve got to be able to do while rollerblading. That’s probably the one thing I’ve learned from it.
The Oilers are on a red-hot winning streak after having a tough start to the season. How does it feel to shut the haters up who were naysaying you?
It feels good, man. It really does. Of course, we didn’t get off to the start that we wanted and people start doubting you. People start saying negative things. For our group, we just stuck together and we’ve worked our way out of it. You know, when you’re losing in Edmonton, the fans are on you. And rightly so. They’re a passionate fanbase, they love their hockey, and they want to see a successful team. And when you’re winning, they love you. It can be a bit of a roller coaster that way, but overall, the fans treat us really well.
You’re a five-time Art Ross trophy winner [awarded to the league’s points leader]. You won it the last three years. Right now you’re fifth in the league in scoring and you’ve got some catching up to do with guys like Kucherov and MacKinnon. How badly do you want to get that fourth consecutive trophy?
You know what? Our group in Edmonton is all about winning. We just want to win and that’s all we’re focused on. And if that requires a little bit of a different game, then that’s great. I’ve won Art Ross trophies. Leon [Draisaitl] has won Art Ross trophies. Our group has just kind of been there and done that. It’s time for us to put all of our energy and focus into winning. A little bit of maturity obviously helps. We’ve had some good runs in the playoffs and have been getting closer, so we’re understanding what it takes to hopefully one day win.
That’s a good, healthy mindset. Very mature. That being said, don’t you ever think about breaking Gretzky’s record of 10 Art Ross trophies?
Is that what he’s at? He’s at 10?
You’re halfway there!
Holy smokes. That’s a lot of Art Ross trophies. Holy… You know what, Gretzky’s records are so far gone. It’s almost, like, forgotten. You don’t think about that stuff. He’s obviously an Edmonton legend. He’s a legend of our game. Having him in Edmonton there for a couple of years was great, when he was working for the team. I see him in the broadcast booth and we cross paths every now and then. He still has close ties to Edmonton. Anytime he’s around, it’s great. You’re just like a sponge around a guy like that, just trying to soak it all in.
The Great One had some legendary moments playing for Canada at the Olympics. That’s something you haven’t had the opportunity to do yet. How amped are you to finally get the chance?
It would be a dream come true. This is something I’ve been vocal about for a long time now. I feel very strongly that hockey needs to be on sports’ biggest stage. That’s the Olympics. We need to send our best there. And to have an opportunity to play in a best-on-best tournament and represent my country, to play with other amazing hockey players from Canada, that would be special. I’m looking forward to the opportunity to chase that down.