HALL C?

 

The Edmonton Oilers asked Taylor Hall to position switch this fall, and the young man said  he’d do his best. Now, Dallas Eakins backup plan looks pretty good (borrowing a line) as the club approaches opening night. I’m wondering if that kind of moment–where the player expresses a preference in position but adopts a new position to help the club–might be the backdrop for the Oilers to name him their new captain.

HE’S THEIR BEST PLAYER!

Although the Oilers have a passel of gifted youngsters, Hall’s the Alpha male in the group and their best player. He’s been pushing the river at 5×5 since he was a teenager and he’s been delivering results against the toughest opponents available. Hall’s move to center has to be considered a Godsend at this point, and his ability to play the position (Ray Ferraro was commenting during this week’s broadcast about how well Hall is adjusting) isn’t a major concern at this point. A lot to learn, but a quick study.

Which is incredible. Athletes. They’re amazing. 

Hall could very well move back to LW when Nuge and Gagner return, but the thought of keeping him there is very, very interesting. Imagine a top 9F that looks like this:

(C-L-R)

  • Hall-Smyth-Hemsky
  • Nuge-Perron-Eberle
  • Gagner-Joensuu-Yakupov

If Smyth begins to falter, the club could put Boyd Gordon in Gagner’s slot and move 89 to the top line with 4 and 83. That’s some outstanding talent, more than we’ve seen since the Boys on the Bus in this town. 

And the leader? Turns 22 in November. 

HE’S TOO YOUNG!

There’s a lot we can find wrong about today’s youth (here) but there’s a lot of good too. Although Taylor Hall might be a little young for the captaincy, it’s also true that he’s been a leader since his arrival, and the cluster’s heart can be traced to his draft day. 

There are other quality options, but from here Taylor Hall looks like the right choice. 

WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

This fall’s training camp may be brought to you by the number "4" and the letter "C" as the biggest items are Taylor Hall moving to center and emerging as a young leader. The young man has sacrificed the known comforts of the wing and ventured forth into a more difficult job with no guarantee of success–and made the transition (so far) very well.

Doesn’t that sound like a leader? I think it does.

  • Any time I read the center first it often briefly confuses me, but I often know to expect it from posters such as Lowetide. It’s more the other randos that follow this that throw me off. 😛 It’s a petty thing to stop reading over though, even if it makes less sense to me.

    Anyways, I may drink the kool-aid to often, but I’m in love with this team’s top 9 possibilities. The fourth line is a big dud right now, but it is what it is. Ideally (with the group the Oilers have), the 4th line is the non-factor this year, and the top 3 lines are tremendous factors.

    Oh and Eakins’ comments to the media recently made it sound like Hall’s accepting of the centre role was inconsequential to the captaincy. I didn’t get the “Hall would be a good centreman captain” vibe by what I was hearing, which seemed odd to me. Eakins gave me the vibe like he doesn’t give a crap about what the leadership has been like before he showed up either.

    Edit: oops, that should say “Hall would be a good captain” not “Hall would be a good centreman”. Fixed it above.

    • Muji

      Me too 🙁 Tell us again why you prefer writing “C-L-R”, Lowetide?
      “L-C-R” just makes sense. I could even see “C, L, R” making sense. But “C-L-R” makes my brain hurt every time I see it.

      • Lowetide

        Old habit I’m afraid, C-L-R just makes sense to me, always has and always will. Esposito-Cashman-Hodge, Gretzky-Tikkanen-Kurri, Nuge-Hall-Hemsky.

        Sorry Beans stopped reading, but certainly understand.

        • Rubbish.

          Abel Lindsay Howe? I don’t think so

          Ditto Hay Hull Balfour

          And lemaire shutt lafleur

          When talking great lines the best player (or most famous) is the first listed you just cherry picked examples that fit your confusing template.

        • Have always had a really hard time with it too. “Left”-“Centre”-“Right”… the template instructions are in the words. Listing them in order of who leads the lines followed by the left then right wing seems so arbitrary to me – almost like listing the players in order of minutes played. But, to each his own…

  • Bucknuck

    I like Hall getting the C. I like Gagner getting the C. I like Eberle getting the C.

    Some player (Ference) who is a new oiler? No Thanks. If You need an Interim Captain, then pick Smytty.

  • Admiral Ackbar

    I still don’t like the idea of putting a major offensive threat as the C. Everyone goes through slumps and when they do, it’s a little harder to speak up to the team.

    I like the idea of giving it to a strong D-man. Call up Nurse, give him rabies, feed him a live goat before every game and slap that C on his chest with pride.

  • Lowetide

    Taylor Hall made it on the 50 Best Players List………..should have been top five in my opinion!

    Eberle did not even make the list………just who are these morons making the list? Either way the dynamic trio RNH, Hall, and Ebs should all have even a little more motivation to show those in the “centre of the Hockey Universe”, that out west we have the best team bar none.

    Damn the injuries……we have Hall!

  • Does anyone think that any of the players asked to play center would say “No”? I think they are paid enough to do what the coaches/GM say so I don’t think Taylor Hall saying he is willing to try center should be a deciding factor in whether or not he should be captain. That being said, all the other reasons; his skill, leadership, determination, hatred of losing, etc., should be why he is named the captain.

    • Lowetide

      I think it’s been discussed before (last fall when he went to OKC) and he passed on the opportunity because he was coming off shoulder surgery.

      I think it’s a calculated risk for player (what if his offense falls away) and team (they’re putting a player out of position and if his production is curtailed it hurts their chances) but seems to be working so far.

  • Muji

    Watching Hall on the wing is a delight. I think he would be an amazing center and the team could be perennial contender with Nuge and Hall at there. Not trashing Gagner, but the reason people want Hall at Center is that its painfully obvious that Hall and Nuge down the middle is scary.

    I think there is no rush to name a captain, but I believe he’s the guy. Very few play with his fire. He never mails in a game or takes a night off. I don’t think this team could go wrong with him or Eberle as captain. Hall and Ebs are the face of the franchise. Both play hard in different ways, both are committed to success.

    • Bi-Curious Gord

      Horcoff and Moreau were a bridge captains, neither were the face of franchise. Both were declining significantly for a long time, and both were maligned because of it. I don’t want to see the same thing happen to Ference. In Edmonton the captain should be your best player, a guy who does it for the next 10 years. Too me this idea of having a bridge captain cheapens the aura of the captaincy. When I think of great Oilers captains I think of Al Hamilton, Gretzky, Messier, Weight. Sure there were others bit its time to say this guys the guy, why wait a year to slap a C on him.

  • Justino

    I don’t know, if Hall goes permanently goes center we don’t have much depth on our lw. Joensuu hasn’t proven enough to me yet and smyty is probably on his last year.

  • Jay Gray

    The maturity and attitude Hall has shown during the switch is the fabric from which all good captains are cut.
    I wonder if not rushing back Nuge had the added benefit in Mac T’s mind that Hall would be put in this position.

    Now imagine if he excels at center. This might just be the shift in team dynamic that propels the Oilers back into a cup contender.

  • The Oilers Shot Clock

    Agree totally. The experiment with Hall at Centre might affect his Olympic selection. He is truly showing his leadership by accepting the change for the good of the team.

    • Noel May

      When you don’t have size the best option is to roll three scoring lines. That is the way the team has been built. We aren’t Boston. With Ference and a seemingly stronger Defensive core then last year, I can see this strategy of having a surplus of skilled forwards pay off this year. I also agree with LT that Hall should be at the Helm.