Taylor Hall has taken more than his share of abuse this season. The young phenom has a vast array of skills, and one of them is pissing off the opposition with a motor that won’t quit and a compete level that’s off the scale. Last night, Hall took one too many late hits and reacted. The boy became a man.
One of the most galling things about the current Oilers is the sheer number of players on the roster solely for their ability to enforce. The problem is that those big men are never on the ice when things happen because they lack the skill to play with the Hemsky’s and Hall’s. Pat Quinn’s solution was to play JF Jacques on the top line and we know how that turned out. Last night, there was no response from any Oiler in the many minutes that passed once Hall was injured. Some will say that confirms the need to dress Steve MacIntyre every night, but there were plenty of Oilers asking Dorsett to dance last night and nothing happened, and the blood never spills.
What’s the solution? Jason Gregor nailed it in his article below. when he says:
You can’t ask a player not to play with emotion, and while fighting Dorsett, a known pugilist, wasn’t the smartest move it showed how much Hall cares. We had spoke last week about how he was getting sick of guys trying to take liberties with him, but didn’t mention that he was going to fight. In fact, he told Ryan Rishaug from TSN this morning that he didn’t think he would ever fight in the NHL. I guess he underestimated himself.
Taylor Hall is no shrinking violet. We shouldn’t expect a Milan Lucic-Nathan Horton power forward, but as he ages this young man is going to be able to handle himself. He’s thick enough to project beyond someone like Ales Hemsky (who has the balls of a pirate but isn’t built to endure 50 miles of Regehr every night). Taylor Hall is going to be able to take care of himself.
This isn’t a case of changing my opinion after the fact. We discussed this issue in the post "Bullets and Bad Guys" (it is here) and I said in January:
Hall looks like the most likely guy to emerge as his own enforcer. I think we can see that now, the kid is getting frustrated by the chops and hacks, and sooner or later he’s going to do something about it. As predictable as the weather.
Tom Renney said after the game "we drafted character, so you better expect character to show up and it did. Good for him." Bob McKenzie’s tweet this morning said "Hearing high ankle sprain for EDM’s Taylor Hall. MRI will tell how long he’s out. 5 weeks left in season. Possible he’s done. We will see."
Taylor Hall was a mjaor reason to watch this team, and losing him for the season (although not confirmed so we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves) would be a painful blow to Oilers Nation. Having said that, last night was a revelation, like finding out the girl you like can shoot pool while drinking you under the table (in my world that was a good thing, which is why I married her).
Taylor Hall is a man. This is a good day.