Connor McDavid – the first-overall selection in last summer’s NHL Entry Draft, the October NHL Rookie of the Month and the player tabbed as the next generational superstar to step on the ice – is going to be sidelined for several months after crashing into the end boards Tuesday night against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Here’s the play, courtesy of NHL GIF generator extraordinaire, Stephanie Vail (@myregularface):

You see it can’t help but think, “This could be real bad.” It’s not so much that he gets knocked off his feet, it’s that he’s going full speed and get crushed up against the boards in a position where he can’t protect himself. As uncomfortable as the play looks, the outcome is worse and that’s true even if you skip over the standard “injuries suck, lose McDavid from the league for a year” piece of this.

Edmonton wasn’t bad to start the year; they weren’t great, but they weren’t anywhere near as incompetent as they had been in year’s passed. There were glimpses of “this team is going to be good in two or three years, max” and they were fun to watch.

Now they’re basically back to being the team they were last season (which wasn’t very good) with a different guy between the pipes and it’s not like Cam Talbot has morphed into a Vezina Trophy candidate since moving out west from New York during the offseason.

If you want a visual representation of how bad this is, watch the video below of Oilers President and GM Peter Chiarelli confirming McDavid’s injury to the media on Wednesday:

That’s a genuinely eloquent man who is typically very comfortable and composed with the media struggling to find words to explain the situation.

You can try to spin this as “McDavid is only one player” and “But the Oilers still came back to win the game after he went out” and all those things, but listen up: this dude was already their best player, already on his way to being a legitimate star in this league (12 points in 13 games after a slow-ish start tells you that) and losing that player has a significant impact on a club.

And sure, there are silver linings and ways to look at this from a glass half full perspective – maybe they’ll get Auston Matthews in the 2016 Entry Draft and instantly become a juggernaut; he’s young, will heal up and can still have a tremendous career – but if you think there is an Oilers fan out there that wouldn’t swap a healthy season from McDavid right now for the prospect of nabbing Matthews or anything else, you’re a crazy person.

Because this was supposed to be the year when the sadness started to fade and the light at the end of the tunnel started getting closer and it was. A 5-8 start isn’t as good as an 8-5 start, but it’s better than anything Edmonton has mustered in recent years and it’s all came to a sudden, depressing stop.

You can’t help but feel for Edmonton, the Oilers and their fans.

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