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McDavid says Hart Trophy award particularly special with unanimous vote, Gretzky link

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid says his second NHL MVP award is special, but means a little bit more when it links him to the NHL’s all-time scoring leader.

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid says his second NHL MVP award is special, but means a little bit more when it links him to the NHL’s all-time scoring leader.

“Anytime you’re in the same breath as Wayne Gretzky, obviously you’re doing something right,” McDavid said Wednesday on a Zoom call in which he discussed his Hart Trophy win and other topics ranging from playoff officiating to the Olympics.

"(I’m) just honoured to win the award -- but to have it unanimous is just another little feather on top."

The Edmonton Oilers captain picked up his second career Hart Trophy on Tuesday in a vote by hockey writers following a season that saw him dominate the league scoring race with 105 points (33 goals, 72 assists) in 56 games.

McDavid received first-place votes on all 100 ballots, matching Gretzky as the only other unanimous winner of the award. 

Gretzky swept all 63 first place votes in 1981-82 following his 92-goal, 212-point season.

McDavid was also asked about NHL refereeing from regular season to playoffs. The referees have come under fire during the current playoff run for missed and inconsistent penalty calls.

"The refs have such a tough job to do. The game is so quick and things happen so fast that it’s hard sometimes for them to see (everything)," said McDavid.

"However, I think you do wish that there was maybe a little more consistency. That’s what we’re looking for as players and I think that’s what everyone wants is just consistency throughout.

"0The other sports have been able to do that from the regular season to the playoffs."

On the Olympics front, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman questioned whether it will be feasible for the league to send players to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, given tight timelines, logistical concerns and lingering issues around COVID-19.

“When we signed our last (collective bargaining agreement) I think the players were really pushing for a commitment from the league to allow us to go to the Olympics,” said McDavid.

"My understanding (is) we got that commitment and the league is going to do everything in their power (to make that happen). As players we’re expecting to go."

With COVID health restrictions being lifted across the continent, McDavid said it’s been a challenge for players with seasons stopping and starting and players staying isolated between games.

"There were a lot of sacrifices made by the guys that were playing. Obviously for the real world it was a lot greater than that," he said.

"It's affected everybody and everyone’s done a great job of trying to beat this thing.

"Will the real world go back to normal? I certainly hope so. I get the impression people want to go back to normal life, but only time will tell."

In the Hart voting, Toronto Maple Leafs centre Auston Matthews was second and Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon was third.

McDavid previously won the Hart in 2016-17.

The 24-year-old from Newmarket, Ont., also won the Ted Lindsay Award, awarded to the league's most outstanding player as voted on by members of the NHL Players' Association, for the third time in his career.


This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 30, 2021.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

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