Connor McDavid was still a youngster when he first met Bobby Orr at the hockey legend's summer camp. Awestruck at the time, McDavid forged a friendship that led to Orr becoming his agent.
Now, as McDavid skates toward being the top pick in the NHL draft, he lives by the idea that Bobby knows best. Orr is there to help him deal with the pressure of being hockey's "Next One" and anything else that comes up on or off the ice.
"I'm very lucky to have him around in my life," McDavid said. "He's been a great support guy for me that I can go to if I have any questions or any concerns. He's been through it all, he's done anything that a hockey player wants to do. He's done it all. If there's one guy you can go to talk to, he's a pretty darn good guy to go to."
McDavid isn't the first prospect to lean on Orr. He's the agent for past No. 1 picks Taylor Hall and Aaron Ekblad, and the Orr Hockey Group represents over 30 NHL players.
Orr knows McDavid is a kind of unique talent who "comes along once in a while," so his role is even more heightened this time. With all the pressure and expectations on the shoulders of an 18-year-old, Orr just wants McDavid to keep loving hockey.
"The big thing with Connor and any of the young kids: Don't ever lose the love and passion for the game," Orr said Thursday at the CHL prospects game, where he's coaching McDavid. "This game can be a job. I never looked at it as a job, I loved to go to practice, I loved to play.
"What Connor's gone through the last few years, it really is incredible how stable he has stayed. A lot of that has to do with his family, too. That's the thing: Some kids get the kind of pressure put on them, they just lose that love and passion for the game."
That doesn't sound like a problem for McDavid, who never seems to take playing hockey for granted.
"I love the game so much and I work hard at it and I have a lot of fun with it," he said. "There's something about playing in junior and being with your buddies all the time and going through that run, it's hard not to fall in love with it."
McDavid, who's in his third season with the Erie Otters of the Ontario Hockey League, doesn't see Orr often. But the two speak on the phone and text message each other to stay in touch.
That's a typical player-agent relationship, but for McDavid, it's even more special. Consider the source.
"When Bobby Orr talks, you're listening," McDavid said. "You're making sure that you're doing what he says. If you want success, he's a great guy to kind of follow."
The best advice that Orr gives McDavid is almost fatherly. It doesn't hurt to come from the greatest defenceman to play the sport, but it's not too hockey-specific.
"He's just checking up on me, making sure that I'm doing all the right stuff, always reminding me to sleep more and get my rest," McDavid said. "As a teenager you've got a lot of stuff going on all the time. It's hard to find a couple extra hours of sleep. He's always reminding me and making sure I'm doing that."