I just wanted to send out a special thank you to the Edmonton Oilers for proving me wrong.
As a card carrying member of the “Draft Tyler Seguin” campaign ahead of last year’s NHL Entry Draft, I sure am glad general manager Steve Tambellini chose to listen to his scouting staff and not the fans when he took Taylor Hall instead with the first overall pick.
After a bit of a slow start to his NHL career, Hall has continued to elevate his game every time he steps out on the ice, scoring his first ever hat trick just a couple of weeks ago during an afternoon game against Atlanta.
That was a game that the Oilers would have lost without Hall in the line up, as I have never seen a player dominate the third period like #4 did in that contest with the Thrashers.
Now knowing the impact the 19-year-old Calgary native has had on the line up, you can understand why so many Oilers’ fans were critical of the rookie last week when he got into his first ever fight in the NHL, going toe to toe with one of the best pound for pound fighters in the league, that being Derek Dorsett of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
The former Windsor Spitfire, who only got into two fights during his highly productive junior career, fared well in the tilt…that is until the end when both he and Dorsett fell awkwardly to the ice.
Hall took a while to get up afterwards, and couldn’t put any weight on his left ankle while skating to bench.
He didn’t return to the game, a 4-2 win by the Oilers, and was spotted afterwards with a walking boot on his foot.
Many Oilers fans feared the worst, and those suspicions were confirmed later in the week when the team announced that Hall was done for the season with a high ankle sprain.
Broadcasters and television analysts had a field day with it, criticizing the young man for using his hands for anything other than putting pucks in the net.
Angry fans got it on it too, suggesting Hall should have let one of his bigger teammates fight his battle for him.
I am not one of those fans.
Despite the fact that it was a season ending injury (he’ll be out eight weeks), I was thrilled to see Hall drop the mitts and dance with Dorsett.
I think I’ll let Oilers head coach Tom Renney explain that one.
“We knew we drafted character when we drafted Taylor,” Renney said when asked by reporters after the game for his thoughts on Hall’s first fight.
“What you saw tonight is that character. I have no problem with it.”
Hall was also given the chance to talk about the dust-up.
“I was just tired of guys taking liberties with me and trying to run me all over the ice. You don’t want to go through your whole career being the guy that needs his teammates to come to his rescue. There’s no fun in that.”
That’s the exact attitude I want to see from the guy who is expected to lead the Oilers to future greatness.
A willingness to play hard, work hard, and not put up with any crap, taking matters into his own hands if necessary.
In that sense, he reminds me a bit of Jarome Iginla.
Iggy wears the “C” in Calgary for a reason, and that’s because he is willing to do whatever it takes to try and help his team find success, whether it be scoring 30 goals a season for 10 straight seasons, or dropping his gloves.
I’m not saying I want Hall to put up Steve McIntyre type penalty minutes, but I won’t object to occasional punch-up.
In this scribe’s opinion, Hall will captain this Oilers team one day (if he sticks around that long), and by leading by example, that’s exactly what I want to see from the future leader.