We’re getting closer to a return for the NHL. Earlier this week, Phase 2 of the NHL’s ‘Return To Play’ plan began, as teams were allowed to open their facilities for small groups of players. The Edmonton Oilers were one of the first teams in the league to open their building up.
The ice officially went down in Rogers Place sometime late last week, and the first group laced up the skates on Monday. Matt Benning, Tyler Benson and Stuart Skinner, all from the Edmonton area, remained in town and took to the ice as part of a five skater group. Joining them were Kris Russell and Alex Chiasson.
“It was exciting to get back to the rink, but it was a different feeling,” Benning told the club’s website. “A lot of things we had to do in order to be safe and enjoy the facility.”
They might be the only members of the team in town getting ready, but they aren’t the only Oilers revving up for a resumption of the 2019-20 season. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jujhar Khaira are also skating right now. They, however, have elected to stay on the West Coast in the lead up to Phase 3. Phase 3, which is training camp, will not happen until mid-July at the earliest.
McDavid For Masterson:
Connor McDavid is looking for a little hardware this offseason. The captain of the Oilers lost out on the Art Ross Trophy to teammate Leon Draisaitl, and likely will not win the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP. He is, however, nominated for the Masterson Trophy.
The Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is awarded annually to the NHL player who best exemplifies qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. The trophy honors the late Bill Masterton, the only NHL player to die from injuries sustained in a game. First awarded in 1968, the Masterton Trophy is under the trusteeship of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
McDavid, who suffered a gruesome lower-body injury in the final game of the 2018-19 season, somehow returned to action on opening night. His long and difficult summer, which defied the odds, was chronicled by Sportsnet in documentary form. ‘Whatever It Takes‘ was released in January.
After his tireless summer of rehab a year ago, McDavid looked like his old self right out of the gate. He ended up finishing second in the NHL with 97 points (34-63-97). He missed seven games with injury and illness over the course of the 2019-20 season.
No Oilers player has ever won this Award. Although McDavid is a very worthy candidate, he could be in tough to take it home.
Oskar Lindblom of the Philadelphia Flyers missed all but 30 games of the season battling cancer, while Bobby Ryan left the Ottawa Senators early in the season to battle addiction. He returned and scored a hat-trick in his first game back.
Both Mark Letestu (Winnipeg Jets) and Jay Bouwmeester (St. Louis Blues) are nominated after dealing with heart issues. Bouwmeester collapsed in a game during the season and had to be revived.