October 07, 2016 - 6:57 AM
TORONTO - As the second-youngest captain in Toronto Maple Leafs history, Darryl Sittler is well aware of the challenges that accompany the high-profile role — and he's confident Connor McDavid is up to the task.
The Edmonton Oilers named McDavid team captain on Wednesday, making him the youngest in NHL history to be honoured with the position.
McDavid is 19 years and 267 days old, with just 45 games of NHL experience to his credit following an injury-shortened debut season. He had 16 goals and 32 assists in his rookie year despite missing 37 games with a broken collarbone.
Still, the Canadian phenom's youth and limited time on the big-league ice were of little concern to Sittler when it came to McDavid receiving the captaincy.
"They made him the captain because he's the right guy," the Hall of Famer said in an interview Thursday in Toronto, where he was being inducted into Canada's Walk of Fame.
"He's the best player on the team, but he's mature for a 19-year-old. I look back when I was 24. I was the captain — the youngest captain then — and all you can do is go out and do the things you did to get there and lead by example."
McDavid was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 draft, and follows in the legendary footsteps of Hall of Famers Wayne Gretzky and Mark Messier who also wore the "C" for Edmonton.
The Newmarket, Ont., native previously served as captain of the Ontario Hockey League's Erie Otters and Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey.
"He's been a star ever since he was a youngster," Sittler said of McDavid. "He did everything the right way. He's a very humble guy, he gets it.
"He's got what we all like in a Canadian athlete or a Canadian celebrity: it doesn't go to his head."
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News from © The Canadian Press, 2016