His left ankle is encased in a walking cast and it will likely cost Taylor Hall a chance at the Calder Trophy, but for me, Hall’s fight with Derek Dorsett Thursday makes the name that ends up engraved on the trophy for the NHL’s top rookie in 2011 a moot point.
In a season when Hall has delivered on all the hype and promise leading to him being drafted first overall by the Edmonton Oilers, he set another benchmark when he decided he’d had enough of Dorsett, one of the toughest pound-for-pound fighters in the game, dropped his gloves and started throwing punches.
While Hall loses style points for stopping to pick up his gloves after the scuffle, and the ankle injury — he will have an MRI today to assess the extent of the damage — is unfortunate, his first Gordie Howe Hat-trick tells us all we need to know about the kid wearing No. 4.
Stu MacGregor and the Oilers couldn’t have possibly got it more right when they called Hall’s name at the Entry Draft last June in Los Angeles. The ridiculously talented and driven Hall is everything a franchise fallen on sad-sack times could have hoped for.
Doesn’t matter whose name goes on the trophy.
TAKING A STAND
For all of the debate about what should have or could have happened when and after Dorsett and Hall tangled in the second period, Hall’s 64th game with the Oilers marks the moment he decided to stop turning the other cheek and stand up for himself. To take care of business.
As with just about every other aspect of his game, Hall delivered a glimpse of another dimension sooner than it could reasonably be expected he would, win or lose when the gloves came off with Dorsett.
"There’s nothing in your contract that says you can’t fight and you can’t defend yourself and that’s all I was trying to do," Hall said. "He kind of gave me a few jabs in the face. It’s bad luck I had to leave the game but I’d probably do it again if I had to.
"There comes a time when you have to. There’s nothing wrong with sticking up for yourself. Eventually if you keep getting hit and people keep coming in for you. It’s not a great feeling when you’re that guy that keeps getting rescued. I was just trying to help out a little bit."
Unless you’re a pussy or a pacifist without the slightest clue, how can you not like that?
Hall, just a few months beyond his 19th birthday, showed in no uncertain terms Thursday he’s ready to push back. Ready to do his own dirty work. No need to have a teammate step in for him, again. I’m guessing fans can’t wait until he’s all grown up.
"We drafted character so we better expect character to show up and it did," coach Tom Renney said. "We’ll deal with the consequences, that’s what a team does. Scraps happen. That’s part of the game. He had enough of all the liberties being taken."
We won’t know until the results of an MRI how long Hall’s ankle will keep him out of the line-up. Will Hall be done at 22 goals and 20 assists after 65 games? Maybe. Doesn’t matter.
If the 65th game of Hall’s rookie season with the Oilers is his last, so be it. As advertised, the gifted, gritty and growing Hall has already delivered an eye-opening glimpse of what the future might bring.
Just one thing — next time, let somebody else pick up the gloves, kid.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.