Taylor Hall, Olympian

Jonathan Willis
August 28 2013 10:03AM

No less an authority than the TSN panel has predicted that the Edmonton Oilers best player, Taylor Hall, will be sitting at home watching the Olympic games rather than representing Canada in Sochi.

Here’s why they’re wrong.

TSN’s Roster

TSN’s left wing depth chart consists of Chris Kunitz, Rick Nash, converted centre Logan Couture, and Patrick Sharp. With all due respect to those four, there’s simply no way that Hall shouldn’t be part of that group.

The Competition

Chris Kunitz bafflingly gets the top left wing position on the team. The only possible defence of that ranking is that he has familiarity playing with Sidney Crosby, and it’s a terrible defence because presumably it isn’t difficult to look good playing on a line with the best player in the world. Kunitz has spent approximately 75% of his even-strength the last three years centered by either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin; Taylor Hall has done it with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Sam Gagner and Shawn Horcoff, players that aren’t exactly comparable. Despite being in the prime of his career and on a line with two of hockey’s five best players, somehow Kunitz has a worse point-per-game rate over the last three seasons than Hall, who was breaking into the league and playing in a tougher conference to boot. In three previous seasons Kunitz has hovered around a 60-point pace, so this last year was likely a one-off and if his scoring drops back to his established level nobody will be talking about him as an Olympian.

Rick Nash is likely a better choice for the top left wing position than Chris Kunitz. The 29 year-old is a veteran of international play, having represented Canada at two Olympic games, four World Championships and a World Junior tournament. Interestingly, like Kunitz, his points-per-game rate is actually less than Hall’s over the last three seasons, but he is more of a goal-scorer and arguably more of a complete player at this point in time.

Logan Couture, the converted centre, is another player who finds himself falling just short of Hall’s point-per-game pace over the last three seasons. He has an advantage in that he’s perceived as a better positional defender than Hall but a disadvantage in being a lesser skater and having less experience internationally (Couture has represented Canada only at the under-18’s back in 2006-07). Couture is an exceptional player – and a Corsi monster – but he both doesn’t tilt the ice the way Hall does in terms of out-shooting the opposition and he doesn’t come close to having the same level of offensive dynamism that Hall does. On a team loaded to the gills with converted centres, Couture’s positional strengths defensively shouldn’t trump Hall’s superior ability to drive results in his natural position.

Patrick Sharp should, barring a major drop-off, be on this team. A versatile skater who can play any position, he is both a dynamic offensive player and a skilled defensive forward. He’s coming off a tough year – he really struggled on a line with Dave Bolland for half the season, though he was fine with other centres – but he’s been excellent in the past and shouldn’t be a controversial choice.

Taylor Hall

Taylor Hall is coming off a remarkable season, even by Canadian Olympic team standards. No Canadian player in the lower-scoring Western Conference put up more points than Hall; in terms of even-strength scoring per hour only Jonathan Toews (3.19 PTS/60) had a better rate than Hall (3.15 PTS/60) in the West. Hall finished eighth overall in Relative Corsi league-wide last season and was 20th overall the year before that. In his first three seasons in the league, he’s clear of every Canadian left wing other than 41 year-old Ray Whitney in terms of points-per-game, despite the fact that he’s just started his career and has played for a pretty awful team.

Hall is a special player. He’s Canada’s best scoring left wing at the age of 21 despite playing in the West and there’s a pretty decent case that no other Canadian left wing drives out-shooting the way he does when he’s on the ice. He took a leap forward last year and was the best left wing in the NHL, despite Chris Kunitz's nod as first-team All-Star.

Hall will, barring injury, be a fixture on future Canadian Olympic teams but he’s good enough to play for them right now, and if he picks up where he left off the team’s management will have no choice but to include him.

Recently around the Nation Network

At Jets Nation, Kevin McCartney steps in from his vacation to imagine what the team's lines might look like if Mark Scheifele is ready to go at training camp:

Despite the many claims (even by me) that Jokinen and Schiefele will be auditioning for the same job of 2C, we can imagine this team organized in such a way as to reveal a hole at centre. Moving Tangradi outside the top-9, Frolik could take his LW role - if only the team had another centre. Does Eric O'Dell get a look for a soft-minutes assignment there? Is that Nic Petan's job down the line? What does the team do when Grabovski is a free agent again next year?

Click the link above to read more (includingthe lines Mccartney settled on), or check out some of my recent stuff:

74b7cedc5d8bfbe88cf071309e98d2c3
Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#1 Czar
August 28 2013, 10:19AM
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By Christmas Kunitz won't be able to carry Hall's jock.

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#2 Archaeologuy
August 28 2013, 10:47AM
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If I'm a Bruins fan then I'm also wondering what else Patrice Bergeron has to do to prove he belongs on the Olympic team. Seriously, extra skater? Are you telling me that Patrice Bergeron is less of a fit to play the 4th line than Ryan Getzlaf?

Team Canada has a knack for out-thinking themselves. This year may prove no different.

Best LW in the NHL, not making the cut. Last year's Norris trophy winner, 8th Defenseman. Best Defensive C in the game, Extra skater.

It's a terrible projection, I hope they are dead wrong.

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#3 Reg Dunlop
August 28 2013, 01:23PM
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@jetsfan

Andrew Ladd? Never heard of him. Thank goodness for NHL re-alignment, extra games against the lowly jets will pad Hall's stats just like it did for #99. Gretz would have won the Art Ross if they only counted his points against the jets.

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#4 Czar
August 28 2013, 10:38AM
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I'd also rather have Hall on the team than Lindy Ruff.

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#5 Dman
August 28 2013, 01:40PM
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jetsfan wrote:

Lowly jets? Sure.. and that's why Winnipeg has been within a few spots of making the playoffs within it's first two years back, meanwhile Edmonton was still trying to crawl out of the basement. Doesn't seem to be working, does it.

The Jets finished 6 points ahead of the Oilers last season and they were in the weakest division in the league. Hardly anything to be bragging about.

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#6 The Last Big Bear
August 28 2013, 02:30PM
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In the same way that chemistry between players in juniors rarely translates into chemistry at the NHL level, chemistry at the NHL doesn't seem to contribute much at the Olympics.

Witness Seabrook in 2010, who was half of the NHL's best pairing, but was clearly way over his head at the Olympics even when paired with Keith. As a result, he had the least ice time of any defenceman on TC (and not just a little, IIRC he had less than half the TOI of anyone else).

Which is to say there's no way in heck Kunitz should be on this team.

Especially not because "he has chemistry with Crosby", that's just retarded. A green rubbermaid garbage bin placed at the hashmarks (no doubt provided by CWD) would have great chemistry with Crosby.

Hall deserves a definite look at that spot, but so do a lot of transplanted centremen. I know he's a natural winger, but if that roster position comes down to something like Hall vs Giroux, it could be a tough call.

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#7 LinkfromHyrule
August 28 2013, 10:26AM
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yet another reason why the MSM is (mostly) a joke. You and Gregor both summed it up nicely. A year ago Kunitz was not even in the conversation, and now because of an extremely small sample size they have him as 1LW. I think you could argue that just about any player will play well with the best player in the game.

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#8 The Oilers Shot Clock
August 28 2013, 10:31AM
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I kept waiting for someone on that panel to make an exception or at least bring up how tough of a cut he would be but instead they mentioned just about everybody else.

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#9 The Oilers Shot Clock
August 28 2013, 11:26AM
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I'm betting Kunitz spends the rest of the summer telling Crosby to be careful when getting out of the tub and to remember to cut your food into small pieces.

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#10 VK63
August 28 2013, 11:27AM
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I found it interesting that Ray Ferarro claims, Crosby thrives best with straight line style wingers. There may not be a better straight line skater in the game than T hall.

HOWEVER

~That's way too simple an observation for the intellectual tour deforce that is hockey canada. ~

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#11 Sailge
August 28 2013, 01:19PM
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jetsfan wrote:

Ladd > Hall.

Overall, Ladd is the more complete player with much more leadership qualities. If there's a fight for the final LW spot, he is way more qualified than one of the most overrated players in the game, Taylor Hall.

Players on teams that have been in the basement of the league for the past 7 years should not be making the Olympics to represent Canada, when there are much better, successful alternatives out there. Hall especially has no success at the international level, being benched, and that is another reason against him being on the team. So no thanks to him being an Olympian.

~ Easy now, your team hasn't made the playoffs since the 90's ~

But seriously, Hall's as good as Ladd already and will no doubt be the better player going forward.

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#12 Jordan Nugent-Hallkins
August 28 2013, 01:59PM
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Jets blow dogs for quarters.

Book it.

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#13 916oiler
August 28 2013, 11:26AM
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WTF? Is TSN owned by Americans???

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#15 Clyde Frog
August 29 2013, 08:16AM
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@DSF

Letting out a sob of relief DSF took a moment to quietly reflect on his absolute victory!

The last 12 hours of Googling had worked, he finally had definitive proof that Taylor Hall is a Canadian bust! It had taken a lot of work to look past and ignore all the other "stats" his "fans" kept bringing out... Such as points and a full suite of other advanced stats; but he had done it!

Finally he had a stat that proved what he knew deep down in his heart, Taylor Hall just isn't any good.

Hitting refresh 17 more times, he contentedly waits for his new internet worshipers to heap praise and other accolades on his mighty shoulders.

His eyes light up with a mad gleam, "What!?!" he bellows... Someone has dared to look at how his mighty stat factored into the past!? This will not stand!

Writing out his well thought out response he clicks the post button and trundles off to his secret thoughts journal, where he promptly places a single bold line through the name Racki; forever removing him from friend contention... That is if he ever sees the need to leave the mighty bachelor pad he has built that is his mother's basement.

Cracking a new can of Dr.Pepper he savors the sweet aroma and contentedly starts planning out the parade Oilers Nation will throw him once they come to recognize his utter genius in all things Hockey.

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#16 Rocket
August 28 2013, 05:46PM
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At this point, I wouldn't be surprised if TSN picks Ben Affleck & Miley Cyrus to make the Olympic team instead of an Oilers player.

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#17 TigerUnderGlass
August 28 2013, 10:17PM
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DSF wrote:

I didn't realize Iginla was under consideration.

Any other straw men you want to present?

Did the guy who just presented =/-ON/60 as the definitive metric declaring Taylor Hall unfit for the Olympic team just accuse somebody of erecting straw men?

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#19 Dan the Man
August 28 2013, 11:35AM
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Taylor Hall doesn't get the respect he deserves. From the All-Star selections to Lindy Ruff at the worlds to TSN's Team Canada selections. (Maybe those are the only examples but I'm going to pretend there are a lot more because I'm really angry)

Hall is a super competitive guy and things like these will only push him to be better. He will force his way on to Team Canada.

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#20 geoilersgist
August 28 2013, 02:33PM
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@jetsfan

Not to sure how Hall is over-rated but ok. I wish he and Eberle could be on the team but that's a pipe dream. If Hall doesn't make this team something is wrong. You claim Ladd is so much better but I'm not buying what your selling. What is their age difference and years in the league. Not many other players have ever torn it up the way Hall is at his age. Also HE is the best LW in Canada if not the NHL. That is something that can't be ignored.

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#21 Rob...
August 28 2013, 02:56PM
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I think this is the best thing that could have happened to Hall. You thought he was an intense, beast of a player before? Brace yourself for a dude who will do everything in his power to prove to the decision makers that they need him on their Olympic team. The Oilers benefit big time from Hall not being a lock for the team.

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#22 Baresnake
August 28 2013, 10:16AM
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Only way Hall isn't on this Olympic team is if Corey Potter follows him around every Oilers warmup.

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#23 OilFire
August 28 2013, 11:14AM
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@Archaeologuy

No friggin' doubt. I have an unstoppable hate for the Bruins, but if I'm choosing the Olympic team, I've got Bergeron centering Couture and Sharp as a beautiful shutdown line that can also score.

I wouldn't worry too much about the current list not having Hall. If he plays like he did last year he'll be put on the team, no question.

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#24 Wax Man Riley
August 28 2013, 03:36PM
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The Last Big Bear wrote:

In the same way that chemistry between players in juniors rarely translates into chemistry at the NHL level, chemistry at the NHL doesn't seem to contribute much at the Olympics.

Witness Seabrook in 2010, who was half of the NHL's best pairing, but was clearly way over his head at the Olympics even when paired with Keith. As a result, he had the least ice time of any defenceman on TC (and not just a little, IIRC he had less than half the TOI of anyone else).

Which is to say there's no way in heck Kunitz should be on this team.

Especially not because "he has chemistry with Crosby", that's just retarded. A green rubbermaid garbage bin placed at the hashmarks (no doubt provided by CWD) would have great chemistry with Crosby.

Hall deserves a definite look at that spot, but so do a lot of transplanted centremen. I know he's a natural winger, but if that roster position comes down to something like Hall vs Giroux, it could be a tough call.

You know, for a Flames fan you're alright!

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#25 MOOG35
August 29 2013, 02:49AM
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When it comes to Kunitz vs. Hall, it's as simple as this. If MacT phoned Ray Shero tomorrow and offered Hall straight up for Kunitz in a trade, what do you think Shero would say?

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#26 Clyde Frog
August 29 2013, 12:28PM
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@DSF

Angrily scratching a line across yet another name in his secret list of possible internet friends, DSF yells upstairs to mother, "More sandwiches! I need more Sandwiches!!! There is someone being wrong on the internet, I can't possibly waste time making them!"

Cursing under his breath, DSF reaches for his collage of the Minnesota Wild's Stanley Cup celebration in 2013. He had spent the last several weeks cutting and pasting various photos from magazines he had mother bring home for him, into what he knew should have happened.

Stroking the collage reassuringly he softly whispers to it, "I know you should have one, I painstakingly played every game last season with my Cheeto's to verify it! You were robbed! It was rigged! I booked it for Pete's sake!"

Hearing the chiming sound of mother lowering his sandwiches down the laundry chute, he allows himself one last longing glance at his masterpiece before trundling over and eating second, second lunch.

He glances at the latest comments and brushes them off quickly, he has no time for real arguments! There are sandwiches to eat!

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#27 mayorblaine
August 28 2013, 10:12AM
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but what does your "gut" tell you?

Hall deserves to be there.

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#28 Muji
August 28 2013, 10:35AM
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"He took a leap forward last year and was the second-best left wing in the NHL behind Hart Trophy winner Alexander Ovechkin."

Not sure if this is an error or a sarcastic poke at the The Professional Hockey Writers' Association...

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#29 Reg Dunlop
August 28 2013, 11:10AM
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Who cares what the opinion of TSN's panel was? When games are played in the fall and injuries happen, the potential make-up of the team will change. While it does matter what the actual Canadian Olympic selection committee thinks, it matters more what we oil fans KNOW: we love Hall, our future captain, and we wouldn't trade him for any of the jobbers above him on TSN's list.

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#30 Taylor Gang
August 28 2013, 02:51PM
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The only thing that stops him from being noticed is the fact that the Oilers stink. Once the Islanders made the playoffs Tavares was being heralded as a top 5 player in the NHL for crying out loud!

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#31 Rheal1
August 28 2013, 04:24PM
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Kunitz will be a liability. Ever saw his stats while he was a Duck? Pffeeewww... The Toronto Sports Network (TSN) are like dinosaurs. Rick Nash should be the 3rd LW, Kunitz should not even be on the roster. Hall a definite 1st LW. WTF gives, TSN? I'm not an oil fan; I'm a Habs fan. If Hall is not on this team, look for bronze at best Yzerman & coy go with it...

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#32 Racki
August 28 2013, 10:35PM
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DSF wrote:

I didn't realize Iginla was under consideration.

Any other straw men you want to present?

I have no problems with you or anyone doubting that Hall is a good candidate for the Olympic team.. I personally am unsure he'll make it on to the team (solely based on the fact that Canada has a lot of solid players to choose from). If your argument was that he was too green to the NHL to make the Canadian team, I would have accepted that, however your argument was basically "Taylor Hall has a less awesome +/- than the other guys so he won't make the team, book it".

Provide a paper thin argument, and people will call you on it. Looking at +/- ON/60 is a huge waste of time.

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#33 Dangilitis
August 28 2013, 10:43PM
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DSF wrote:

The team Canada brass made it pretty clear what they are looking for...scoring and a 200 foot game.

That would best be expressed by +- ON/60.

Here are the numbers for the LW camp invitees and those TSN has pegged to make the team:

Chris Kunitz - +2.93

Rick Nash - +1.65

Andrew Ladd - +0.91

Patrick Sharp - +0.91

Milan Lucic - +0.89

Logan Couture - +0.84

Taylor Hall - +0.45

As you can see, Hall isn't really in the conversation.

So I suppose Hall, like Gagner, is "mediocre", too? Moron...

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#34 Racki
August 28 2013, 08:52PM
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One stat (especially one that is highly influenced by teammates) should not make or break a player.

Please try again.

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#35 mayorblaine
August 29 2013, 12:52PM
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DSF drives so much traffic on this site that he should be, if he isn't, employed by ON.

right or wrong, you all bite. EVERY SINGLE TIME.

love it.

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#36 Racki
August 28 2013, 09:27PM
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@DSF

I just personally thought your singling out one stat and talking matter-of-factly like it proved Hall couldn't hold a candle to the other names was an incredibly weak argument. Why don't you go dig up Jarome Iginla's +/- ON/60 back in 2010.. I seem to recall no regrets with the Canadian team selecting him.

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#38 vetinari
August 28 2013, 11:50AM
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Would love to see both Hall and Eberle on Team Canada and a good start to the 2013 NHL season may see them play their way onto the roster.

And, hey, even if they don't make it for 2014, Hockey Canada must like them a lot to bring them in for these sessions and I'm positive that we'll see them on the 2018, 2022 and 2026 Team Canada rosters when they are in their primes...

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#39 Dan 1919
August 28 2013, 04:01PM
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@Smokey

That's exactly why TSN panelists are panelists.

If Hockey Canada learnt their lesson from Turin 2006's Gretzky & Friends Team like they said they did, Hall will be one of the first 6 forwards picked no doubt about it (assuming he plays as well this season as last).

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#40 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
August 28 2013, 10:14AM
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Olympian pales in comparison to the financial benifits of being a Professional Athlete. Who cares about being a part time Olympian.

Hang onto your full time gig there Taylor. Kids dream of winning the Stanley Cup/playing in the NHL long before adding a gold medal to their safety deposit box. Hockey Canada will need Taylor Hall, long before Hall needs to have that Olympic experience.

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#41 dougtheslug
August 28 2013, 11:09PM
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DSF wrote:

The team Canada brass made it pretty clear what they are looking for...scoring and a 200 foot game.

That would best be expressed by +- ON/60.

Here are the numbers for the LW camp invitees and those TSN has pegged to make the team:

Chris Kunitz - +2.93

Rick Nash - +1.65

Andrew Ladd - +0.91

Patrick Sharp - +0.91

Milan Lucic - +0.89

Logan Couture - +0.84

Taylor Hall - +0.45

As you can see, Hall isn't really in the conversation.

I wonder what Taylor Hall's +-ON/60 would have been if he had played a season with Sidney Crosby as his center?

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#42 2004Z06
August 28 2013, 11:15AM
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Please let hockey season start soon so we can read about "actual hockey news" and not every so called experts projection of who will fart and who will smell it first.

This is getting as bad as Sidney Crosby's headache updates.

We will know who will be on the team in 2-3 months time. Let's talk about it then.

Good grief!

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#43 Dennis
August 28 2013, 11:16AM
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Czar wrote:

By Christmas Kunitz won't be able to carry Hall's jock.

Hahah, I read that as "Christmas Kunitz won't be able to carry Hall's jock". God I need the ole peepers checked out.

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#44 Rama Lama
August 28 2013, 11:39AM
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I'm not sure how much Yzerman has been exposed to Hall over the last couple of years? I love Stevie Y and hope that his hockey IQ prevails over what the Eastern Media Pundits declare as being required.

Hopefully Babcock will have some influence and pick the fastest, hardest working LW in the NHL.

Here is hoping.

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#45 Harry
August 28 2013, 11:39PM
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dougtheslug wrote:

I wonder what Taylor Hall's +-ON/60 would have been if he had played a season with Sidney Crosby as his center?

Classic stat geek in DSF. This guy prove ho little he knoes about hockey day after day. Kunitz over Hall is rediculous.

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#46 geoilersgist
August 29 2013, 03:12PM
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DSF wrote:

No one suggested it is the "only stat that matters" but it is likely one that the team brass are looking at.

You used primarily scoring and Corsi Rel to make your original point while ignoring a host of other factors.

No one disputes Hall's scoring ability but Corsi Rel, as you know, measures how Hall stacked up against his own team mates.

That doesn't tell us much of anything since the rest of the team was dreadful.

If you're, then basing your argument merely on scoring prowess, I wonder how you feel about Corey Perry not being selected?

Over the past 3 seasons:

Perry: 102G 98A 300P

Hall: 65G 80A 145P

Clearly, team management is making their decisions based on more than pure scoring ability which is likely wise.

The "chemistry" argument being used to support the Kunitz selection is a little weak in my opinion but I think it'll take a little more than scoring to overcome it.

I have no doubt that Hall can play his way onto the team if he improves his 200 foot game and I'm sure they've told Hall what he needs to do so now it's up to him.

Where in the h e double hockey sticks did you get those stats? Perry in the last three years has scored 194 points... What do I know though I'm not an Internet genius that makes up stats on the fly...

In all seriousness though do you ever look anything up before you start posting stats? Especially something so simple as plain points?

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#47 Carlos Danger
August 28 2013, 10:49AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

It was sarcasm, but I should probably clarify it.

Do chickens actually have a reason to cross the road or are they just walking around and happen to be crossing a road?

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#48 Cowbell_Feva
August 28 2013, 11:39AM
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Off-topic, and maybe its just me, but the thoughts of having PK Subban on the blueline for Canada makes me sick. Him winning the Norris was a horrible act of East Coast journalists looking at point production and knowing Zero about the game.

The last thing the national team needs is a poor defensive defenseman, that takes one or two bad penalties a game, and runs around out of position to try to lay a highlight reel hit (which 9 times out of 10 does not work). He has a good one-timer...thats it. That and an ego that wouldn't fit through the Russian border. Please leave him at home. If he plays like he did in the playoffs I won't have to worry about it. Letang over PK any day in my mind.

On topic, Lindy Ruff didn't like what he saw from Hall at the Worlds and benched him. JW is throwing out all kinds of NHL numbers, but the game is way different on bigger ice, and after watching Hall play last spring, it was hard to argue with Lindy. Hall will have to have one whale of a first half to make this squad.

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#49 Tim in Kelowna
August 28 2013, 01:41PM
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JW, you are wrong about Kunitz. If having him on the team means that Crosby is guaranteed to hit the ground running in Sochi then I want him on the team.

Nash deserves to be on the team because he was great in Vancouver and he is still in the prime of his career.

Sharp is too versatile to ignore, so he would have to have a horrendous October/November to not be on the team.

As far as I'm concerned, Hall takes Coutures spot. Hall is one of the fastest players in the world and speed is may be the most important factor when picking this team due to the larger ice surface. In fact Hall might be a great fit with Crosby because they both love to play a fast-paced north/south game. Not to mention the fact that Hall finished in the top 10 in league scoring last year. If gets off to a good start, they have no choice but to pick Hall.

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#50 Smokey
August 28 2013, 03:39PM
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Leaving the second best left winger in the NHL off the team is something only Canada would do. Its like leaving the NHL's best goal scorer in Stamkos off in 10' albeit it did not matter are decisions you hope you don't pay for. Granted that was Stevie Y. I'm tired off the World Jr's. constantly not taking their best players because there 17, and then paying the price.

Hall should be just outside a lock. He should have to prove himself, but he has an element that you need which is flat out speed. Frankly a line of Hall, Tavares, Eberle would be decent but won't happen. Put Hall in TO, are we even debating this? Hall is easily without debate or question Canada's best dynamic left winger. On pace for 90 points of all things. Top ten scorer in the league. Second best 5x5 player that drives possession. Two time Memorial Cup MVP. WTH

Kunitz was invited cause he plays with Crosby, Couture is a center, and you don't need Sharpe.

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