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Monday, 7 November 2016

TBC: The McDavid Effect

Considering how crazy my life has been in the last two months, I am spending this week getting everything for this blog back on-track. Hockey pool prizes are going out, I am adding some new stuff to the site, and I'm going back to the articles I enjoy writing such as this one. Teebz's Book Club has been lingering in the background, but there are some rather amazing books that I am reading right now and I need to get these reviews out to everyone. Without further adieu, Teebz's Book Club has the opportunity to review The McDavid Effect, written by Marty Klinkenberg and published by Simon & Schuster. To say that Coonor McDavid hasn't had an impact on hockey fans in Edmonton would be a ludicrous statement. Mr. Klinkenberg examines how McDavid has impacted Edmonton and hockey in his first book!

Marty Klinkenberg was born and raised in south Florida, and his journalism treks have seen him cover local stories in Miami to the Exxon Valdez spill to the war in Afghanistan. Mr. Klinkenberg is probably best known for this long-form articles recently in Canada's national newspaper, The Globe & Mail. Prior to June 2015, Mr. Klinkenberg worked for the Edmonton Journal, giving him insight and experiences with the Edmonton Oilers and their effect on the city of Edmonton. The three-time National Newspaper Award winner for long-form stories was assigned to follow Connor McDavid as his first assignment with the The Globe & Mail, and his stories appeared regularly in the newspaper as an ongoing series. He currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta.

I'm not going to lie - I was very intrigued when this book landed in my mailbox. The McDavid Effect, as a title, has aura of making Connor McDavid sound like a modern-day demi-god when the reality is he's just an eighteen year-old kid at the time this book was written. However, Mr. Klinkenberg does a good job in outlining how important Connor McDavid is to the local community in Edmonton by drawing comparisons to the last wunderkind who played in the city named Gretzky. With the new arena going up, businesses began to thrive with more and more people coming to the rink to see this new star play hockey which is almost exactly what happened in the 1980s when Gretzky and the boys were winning championships and playing their exciting brand of hockey.

The title, however, is also very deceiving in that Mr. Klinkenberg doesn't focus on Connor McDavid's effect on Edmonton entirely. The McDavid Effect also delves into the history of Edmonton as far back as the 19th-century and how the city came to be. There's a portion of the book that speaks about how Wayne Gretzky wound up in Edmonton in his WHA days that is littered with inaccurate stories and facts. While the vast majority of the book deals with Connor's first season in the NHL, the people who helped get him there, and those who know him best, there are sections of The McDavid Effect that simply deal with Edmonton-related stuff of which Connor McDavid had no part. Perhaps the title of the book needs to be changed?

There are some interesting facts about Connor McDavid that come to light thanks to Mr. Klinkenberg's efforts to speak to those surrounding Connor. For example, McDavid tells Mr. Klinkenberg that despite his new-found wealth in the NHL and from various endorsement deals, he made no major purchases in his first season. Usually, a player will splurge on a nice car or a flashy new wardrobe after signing his first big NHL deal, but McDavid apparently had no inkling to do so.

"I'm probably the most boring guy ever," McDavid told Mr. Klinkenberg, and that quip made me chuckle. Facts and quotations like this are found throughout The McDavid Effect, and it will please most Oilers fans to unearth some new facts about McDavid. The book, however, seems to be written almost as a journal with Mr. Klinkenberg documenting everything that happened throughout McDavid's first season in the NHL. Some of the insight and behind-the-scenes information is great while other portions leave one wanting more examination of a situation. An example of this would be the fight that Connor McDavid was involved in prior to the World Junior Championships.
Connor's only major injury came in his final season in the OHL, when he missed six weeks after fracturing a bone in the pinkie finger on his right hand.

The injury occurred November 11, 2014, during Connor's one and only hockey fight, a row with Bryson Cianfrone of the Mississauga Steelheads. After exchanging slashes behind the net, the former hockey-academy classmates dropped their gloves. McDavid pummelled his smaller opponent, but in the process, one of his haymakers slammed into the glass above the boards.

At home, watching the game with her parents, Kelly wondered if Connor had lost his mind.

"I remember saying, 'Oh my God, what is he doing?'" she said. "I sat here on pins and needles until Brian called and confirmed he had broken his hand."
While Mr. Klinkenberg spoke to Connor's mom about the injury - again, his only major injury in junior - and the fight, but he didn't ask Connor about it? What was going through McDavid's mind? What happened after he knew there was a problem with his hand? What did he learn from the fight and the injury recovery process? There are so many questions that one could ask Connor McDavid about that situation, yet Mr. Klinkenberg did not get any insight on Connor's thought process which would have given us, the readers, insight as to how Connor dealt with a major injury. And as you may remember, Connor McDavid suffered a major shoulder injury in his rookie season!

Overall, The McDavid Effect is a solid book when it comes to providing insight on McDavid's first NHL season and some of the spin-offs that benefitted the local Edmonton community and the hockey community. I'm not going to hold a grudge against Mr. Klinkenberg as this is his first book, but there are some glaring errors that drop The McDavid Effect from a five-star experience to a lower ranking. Fans who know some of the stories will probably read those sections with eyebrows raised as history is changed and names are misspelled.

That being said, I did enjoy this look at Connor McDavid's first season in the NHL. Mr. Klinkenberg does a good job in providing reference points with other players' careers and experiences in becoming the next superstar for a team, and he documents a lot of the ups and downs in McDavid's first season nicely. A number of the sections in the chapters read as long-story formats which is where Mr. Klinkenberg's writing excels, but I still believe the title of this book is misleading and inaccurate. In any case, I enjoyed this new insight into Connor McDavid, and The McDavid Effect still deserves the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

Find The McDavid Effect at your local bookstores and libraries this fall!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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