According to the internetz and the 500 girls under 16 that I talk to on Twitter daily it’s Taylor Hall’s birthday. Nothing like a momentus occasion to put things in perspective.
HEY TAY TAY
Oh hey bud. Heard it’s your birthday. We remember our 22nd birthday. Shooters for days, girls we hadn’t heard from in ages randomly texting "happy birthday lol have a shot for me" and all the rest. We can only imagine it’s the same for you but on steroids. We bet 3% of the text messages sent in Edmonton today are chicks sending you their best. Heady times these aren’t they?
Yeah well it might also be a time to take a minute from all the snapchats to think about the life you are leading.
Here’s a thought. We can only imagine the dreams of Cup wins that ran through your head as you tore minor hockey a new one and sliced through Junior Hockey like a hot knife through butter. You trained harder than all, worked on every aspect of your game and succeeded more than everyone else on Earth in your draft year.
First pick – not bad at all. Legendary in fact.
But that was four years ago homie. Fast forward to 22. You are running a very real chance of becoming a Jay Bouwmeester type player. Supremely talented, very very well compensated. But your Championship fire is going out by the day and at this rate you are going to have an empty NHL career where important wins are few and far between. Do you really want to be the next Rick Nash?
We will birthday remind you that you are a two time Memorial Cup winner who put the team on his back and led them to victory. You used to know how to pay the price to win at all costs. You made players around you way better, you found a way to win.
What happened to the guy calmly smiling with the Trophy? That guy was about one thing and one thing only. Wins. Now what are you about exactly?
Is this really what you want for your life? Losing game after game and having people look at you sideways at the mall as they whisper about how crappy your team is? Sitting around the dressing room with a once in a lifetime collection of first round draft picks who sit idly by watching losses stack to the moon?
GROW UP – LEVEL UP
You have the entire hockey world by the balls. You have the millions, you have the long term contract. You are playing in a market that worships you like a God despite the fact you have delivered nothing to date in your career that will be remembered in a generation.
You have everything that kids dream about as they play street hockey with buddies or stay late after practice firing pucks while all the soft kids go eat chips. You are squarely at the crossroads of "Boss Street" and "Lost it all Avenue."
How do you want to look back on your career when you are old and grey? On the one hand you can say "yeah I went first overall and went to Edmonton. We stacked up sick players but we couldn’t find a way to win. Then I got traded and was never the franchise player I once was ever again."
On the other hand you can dig deep and rekindle the fire that made you one of the most dominant OHL players in a generation. You can be the guy who took a few years to find his footing but then found a new gear and was vaulted into the pantheon of Oilers legends. Gretzky did it. Messier did it. Doug Weight did it. Will you find the balls to shake off the bad first chapter of your first career and get things back on track?
It’s the biggest challenge of your 22 year old life and whether you admit it now or let the realization you had it all and lost it haunt you in the middle of the night when you are celebrating your 44th birthday years from now is up to you. Ask around. Find out how Alexandre Daigle is feeling in retirement with all his cash. I bet it ain’t pretty.
Puck bunnies get old and fade away. Millions get spent or become an embarassing reminder of how you were paid to deliver and didn’t. Winning and delivering live forever. Look around Edmonton – we are still in the shadow of players who delivered 25 years ago for heaven’s sakes.
If you were some marginal crumb of a player who is incapable of righting the ship we wouldn’t be so bothered by it all. You are Taylor Hall for heaven’s sake.
Go make that mean something again.