Recently, the Edmonton Oilers named the youngest captain in the National Hockey League when they placed the “C” on Connor McDavid’s #97 jersey. Connor McDavid, born on January 13, 1997 – hence the number 97 on his jersey, was 19 years and 266 days old when the announcement was made by the Oilers.
Gabriel Landeskog was the previous record holder when he was named the captain of the Colorado Avalanche at 19 years and 286 days. Before Landeskog, Sydney Crosby was 19 years and 297 days when his “C” was added to the Penguins jersey.
Of course we could keep going with all the others who were before – but that’s not really the point is it?
When most 19-year-olds are handed a leadership position how do they handle it? This isn’t to say that McDavid can’t handle it. Certainly it seems that Landeskog has handled it and Sid the Kid has no doubt handled himself with tons of poise.
However we’ve seen 19-year-old kids in all sports who have struggled with the expectations of living up to their talent much less leading a group of men into the locker room night in and night out. On February 28, 2017 when the Oilers end a six game road trip in St. Louis if they are out of the playoff hunt will he be able to motivate his team to get up for the game? How will he keep the momentum going on that road trip? He has said that he’s not a vocal leader, so does he leave that to his alternate captains?
I’m not doubting that he can be a good captain, he certainly is able to lead on the ice – his talent speaks volumes. I’m sure he can lead on the ice. He puts up goals, assists and points – 48 points in 45 games in his first year.
I wonder though how we value things? Whether it is our hockey card collection or a new cd or the “C” that we put on someone’s jersey. Things only have value when we give them value. If McDavid gives that cloth letter a value and believes that it is worth something then truly it is worth something. It’s no different from believing that being the captain of our beer league team is the greatest thing in the world – it can be if we truly believe it to be.
We give thoughts, actions, items and even speech value. What is the value of the title of captain? That “C”? Do you look at McDavid different when he steps on the ice? Do you look at anyone differently because they play hockey? Or because they are an athlete? Are they role models? Charles Barkley said “I am not a role model.”
If you are a card collector – how can a Gretzky rookie card be worth thousands? Would you be willing to pay that much money for it? For a piece of paper with a picture on it? At one time I would have said I’d pay money for a Gretzky autograph – but what exactly is an autograph? Someone took a pen and scribbled their name on a piece of paper or item. It’s nothing but some ink that I’ve suddenly given value to.
The same goes for game worn memorabilia or game used items. Why are they valuable? Because they were worn or used? Is a swatch of a jersey or bat worth that much? How do I even know that it is theirs? Does that athlete even care that they are giving it to me? Does that athlete even care about me? Take a look at the hockey card collection. Who gives that hockey card collection value? You? Or some magazine that comes out monthly? The guy at the card shop? Someone on Ebay that wants to buy it? If you want to sell it you give it whatever value you want to sell it for. If you want to buy a card with an autograph it’s whatever you want to buy it for. Sure there are magazines out there that will assign a value to a card – but it’s a random arbitrary value. How can it truly be worth that?
But what is value? What is money? How do we define that? If you want to go see Connor McDavid and the Oilers play how much are you going to pay? How do you decide? Are you going to pay x amount? Or are you going to pay x amount for his autograph or jersey or card? What causes us to put value on something? It seems to all come back on what we work for or how we generate value. “We” or “I” generate value. That value that we put on something. That value that we put on that label of the “C.” So if I value the “C” more than McDavid, maybe I’ll wonder why they gave it to him? It’s all in the eye of the beholder – much like beauty.
Reality is amazing when you break it down to simplistic terms, when we break sports or life’s details into the small points it’s all how we look at them. Take for example our pain, joy, experiences, value (of course), memories or dreams. All of these are subjective to ourselves and what we feel. No one can truly know our experiences or how we truly feel inside of us but us. No one can know how deep an emotion or an instance strikes us but us. If I were to go through a situation with you, we may have seen it differently, describe it differently and feel it differently. This is both the joy of being a human and the fatality of being a human. How do we describe a world that our mind colors specifically with our individual being as a target? Our flaw is ourselves. Being human is both a curse and a blessing.
As we ponder these things, we must consider young Connor McDavid’s plight. How does he approach other young men in the Oilers locker room? How does he approach older men in the locker room? I would imagine he’s not looking at it from the philosophical side of them seeing the situation from his side versus theirs however I have to wonder what they see in that “C?” Do they see a captain or do they see a 19-year-old? What value do they put in the title of captain?