Future Edmonton Oilers captain Taylor Hall isn’t the first NHL up-and-comer who has had to play a secondary role when wearing Team Canada silks at the Olympics or the World Championships and he won’t be the last.
So, while there’s a segment of Oilers fans out there less-than-impressed with how Hall was used, or wasn’t used, by Lindy Ruff and his staff at the 2013 World Championships, my guess is his lack of ice time and any consternation that comes with it will play in Hall’s favor in the long run.
I can’t imagine Hall, coming off a season in which he scored 16-34-50 – he’s the first Oiler to finish in the top-10 in NHL scoring since Doug Weight did it in 2000-01 – is going to waste any time sulking about his role. He’s got a little bit too much "I’ll-show-you" in him not to use this experience as motivation.
As Jason Gregor pondered earlier today, I wonder if Team Canada brass will take a look at how Hall reacted, and will react from here on out, to his use with an eye to the next Olympics. Chances are, Hall, who is still only 21, won’t be looking at top-six minutes at Sochi in 2014, so if he’s going to make the cut he’ll likely have to show he can accept – and excel – with bottom-six minutes.
My guess is Hall will.
I had to smile when former Oiler draft pick Fredrik Pettersson scored the shootout goal to beat Team Canada in Stockholm because I know first-hand the former Calgary Hitmen forward knows how to make an impact.
Pettersson, a seventh-round pick by the Oilers in the 2005 Entry Draft, and I had a little run-in at training camp in Edmonton – I want to say it was right after his draft year, or maybe it was 2006.
Anyway, I rolled out of the parking lot at Rexall Place in a spanking new Charger SRT8 I was driving at the time and headed into the intersection at 118th Ave and Wayne Gretzky drive with Pettersson, Alexei Mikhnov and Patrick Thoresen right behind me in a pick-up truck.
To make a long story short, a dump truck stalled just past the intersection. I saw it and braked in time. Pettersson didn’t and ploughed into me – nothing serious, maybe 20 KMH, but the bumper of his truck fit nicely into my trunk lid and peeled it back like a sardine can.
I’ll never forget the look on Mikhnov’s face when he saw it was me. Mikhnov looks at me, looks at the car and, barely able to speak a word of English and perhaps envisioning an account of the mishap in the newspaper the next day, said, "This is bad."
Not really, although it cost Fast Freddie about $4,000.
WHILE I’M AT IT
. . . We still don’t have word whether mayor Stephen Mandel, who oversaw the downtown arena debate from the start to the final 10-3 vote to approve the project, intends to run for another term of office, but I certainly hope he does.
Simply put, Mandel strikes me as a man who says what he means and means what he says. I think no matter where you stood on the question of a new arena for the city, we can agree that’s all too rare in the world of politics. I’ve been in Edmonton since 1989 and I don’t recall a straight-shooter like Mandel occupying the mayor’s chair.
. . . So, what’s the over-under on the number of players who finished this season on Edmonton’s roster who will still be with the team when the Oilers play their first game in the new arena? I say six.
Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.