NHL

Oilers' Connor McDavid says he chose risk of rehab over surgery for knee injury

The documentary, made by longtime Oilers filmmaker Don Metz, details McDavid's decision not to have surgery on his badly injured left knee — which he sustained April 6 during Edmonton's final game of the 2018-19 season — taking the route of intense physiotherapy and rehab instead.

Star forward details recovery in documentary

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid, left, is seen having his knee tended to after crashing into Calgary Flames goalie Mike Smith on April 6, 2019. (Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press)

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid is detailing in a documentary his recovery and rehab process from the major knee injury he sustained last season.

Connor McDavid: Whatever It Takes will air on Sportsnet on Friday night after the NHL all-star skills competition.

The documentary, made by longtime Oilers filmmaker Don Metz, details McDavid's decision not to have surgery on his badly injured left knee — which he sustained April 6 during Edmonton's final game of the 2018-19 season — taking the route of intense physiotherapy and rehab instead.

"Connor McDavid made the decision, he wanted to rehab this," former Maple Leaf and current fitness trainer Gary Roberts said in the trailer for the documentary that was released earlier this week. "No one has done what Connor has done to rehabilitate himself back from a serious knee injury in that period of time."

McDavid suffered a torn PCL along with other multiple tears around the knee, and a cracked tibia when he crashed into the Calgary Flames net.

WATCH | McDavid hurt in final game of 2018-19 season:

Connor McDavid flew into the post at high speed, slamming his leg and requiring the trainer’s assistance to get off the ice as the Oilers played their final game of the season. 3:24

The 22-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., worked with Roberts, Dr. Mark Lindsay and a team of physiotherapists and coaches over the summer in order to reach his goal of being ready for the first game of the 2019-20 season — just six months after the injury.

McDavid not only reached his goal but has also thrived through the first half of the season. He entered the all-star break leading the NHL in points with 76 (27 goals and 49 assists) through 49 games.

McDavid said before the skills competition Friday night in St. Louis that he wanted to keep the extent of the injury under wraps during his rehab to avoid "the pressure of the media asking questions."

"The main focus was getting healthy," he said.

"Obviously, I was a 22-year-old kid at the time. You never want to miss a season," McDavid added. "You never want to go through a surgery — I'm not going to call it risky — but there were a lot of questions. It's not like it's an ACL where doctors can almost do that in their sleep. It's a PCL. Only a few doctors have done that and it's not like it's been mastered."

McDavid also said there were tough days during the rehab process where he questioned if he had made the right decision.

"There were days when it didn't feel that good going through that process," he said. "You're like, 'Uh, I wonder what the MRI is going to look like? Should we go back and do the surgery and start over?' But it just kept progressing and progressing and ultimately we didn't have to go through the surgery route."

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