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Meet the Oilers' secret weapon: A mental coach to navigate a roller-coaster season

George Mumford saw the notification pop up on his screen.

The message via social media platform LinkedIn was from Edmonton Oilers CEO Jeff Jackson.

Hired by the club last August, the executive had an idea. Mumford was all ears.

The 72-year-old sports psychologist and mental skills coach had previously helped Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers climb to atop the NBA mountain.

Jackson wanted Mumford to assist Connor McDavid and the Oilers reach similar heights.

"We think you can help us win the Stanley Cup," Mumford recalled being told in their first conversation. "And I said, 'I'm in."'

Less than a year later, Edmonton is a few steps away — but faces yet another daunting challenge.

Mumford has been behind the scenes throughout a roller-coaster campaign that included a disastrous 2-9-1 start, a coaching change, a 16-game winning streak, and an up-and-down march through three NHL playoff rounds to the final against the Florida Panthers.

Edmonton played well in a 3-0 loss in Game 1 and then fell 4-1 on Monday to trail the best-of-seven series 2-0 before the matchup switches to the Alberta capital later this week.

Mumford might need to dig deep into his reserves to get the Oilers out of this mess.

"My job is to help people be themselves," the Boston native said in the hours before Game 2. "There's no better feeling than to actually feel like you're being yourself."

An author of two books — The Mindful Athlete: Secrets to Pure Performance and Unlocked: Embrace Your Greatness, Find the Flow, Discover Success — Mumford is both a sounding board and available to offer advice.

"I try to help people unlock and express themselves," Mumford said. "When I talk about performance, I'm talking about