Connor McDavid is going to move into Taylor Hall’s house when he arrives in Edmonton. For some fans this was a bit of a surprise, but when you take a step back it makes a lot of sense for the young phenom.
McDavid’s living arrangements were discussed a few times over the summer. Someone started a rumour that he was going to live with Ryan Smyth. When I spoke to Smyth this summer, he said he had never thought about it, until he read the rumour on line. It was never seriously discussed. It was another false, off-ice rumour, something that happens too often in the NHL.
Captain Andrew Ference said he and GM Peter Chiarelli discussed McDavid living with him and his family. “We talked about it and I think Peter is going down the path to make sure Connor is in a really good
situation,” said the 36-year-old. It was smart for the captain to offer, but as I mentioned on my show during the summer, I felt McDavid should have the leeway to choose where he wants to live.
Ultimately, the Oilers left the decision up to McDavid and he asked Hall if he could live with him. Hall and McDavid skated together at the Biosteel camp last month, as well as spending a few days training at Gary Roberts conditioning camp.
At this point, he knows Hall better than any other player on the team, and clearly the two first overall picks have some things in common. Anyone who has had roommates knows it can be a difficult transformation at times, and if McDavid feels the most comfortable living with Hall, then that is all that matters.
I know Sidney Crosby lived with Mario Lemieux in his rookie season, and because of that many believe McDavid should be living with a veteran, but there is no superstar veteran in Edmonton.
If the Penguins had a 23, soon-to-be 24 year old former number one overall pick, maybe Crosby would have lived with him. Just because Crosby lived with a veteran with a family, doesn’t mean McDavid has to. If McDavid wants to talk hockey away from the rink, Hall can offer an understanding ear, but I don’t expect them to talk hockey 24/7.
I wonder if McDavid simply wanted to live with another young guy on the team. He’s spent the last three years living with a billet in Erie. I can understand if he wants to live in a house without “parents” or children.
I think living with Hall will have a more positive effect than many believe. Hall has matured during his five seasons in Edmonton. He’s learned some hard lessons, mainly losing, but when I spoke to him this past May, the following comments stood out.
“I think as you get older you start to kind
of fit into your personality and you start being the person that you’re going
to be for the rest of your life. I think that that is happening with me. I’ve
played five years in the NHL, but I’m only at the age where most people are
just graduating from university. I’m still learning about myself. All of the
losses that we’ve had in the last five were frustrating. Maybe other guys would
have lashed out in the same way that I did a couple of times, maybe they
wouldn’t, but that’s the way that it goes. I’m starting to learn that sometimes
you just have to relax and let things happen as they do. A good example for me
has been the last month for our team. Things are going to work out and I see
that now,” said Hall.
Patience rarely comes easy to anyone, but
when you are young and the face of the franchise in a hockey-crazed market it
can be even harder to obtain. Hall has worked on finding the right balance of
passion and patience.
“I try to play with a lot of passion. I
think it is important to play with emotion, but you want to make sure you’re
not going over the line. I think that’s what I’ve gotten better at. Certainly
in public I’m a lot more shy than people think, especially when people come up
to me that I don’t know. I’m not the type of person that’s going to have a
twenty minute convo. That isn’t an easy thing for me, but as I get older I find
I’m getting better at those types of things.
“I’ve heard people say they think I’m
arrogant or a snob and that used to bother me, because I’m not that person. I’m
reserved around people I don’t know; even when I went to the Worlds the first
time I was shy. I’ve gotten better at letting my guard down, but I’ve also
learned you have to be true to who you are and not worry what strangers say
about you,” said Hall.
Hall is entering his sixth NHL season. He turns 24 next month. He is a veteran, and he and McDavid get along. The only potential negative to their living situation might be if Luke Gazdic doesn’t make the team, but I expect Gazdic will start the season in Edmonton.
Gazdic also lives with Hall and he is the resident chef. Hall raved about Gazdic’s culinary skills last season, and I’m sure he will be the one doing the majority of the cooking this year. The Oilers have a chef at the rink every day to cook the players lunch, and often many of them take extra food home, so I truly don’t see an issue with proper nutrition for McDavid.
McDavid is smart young man. He is driven. He wants to succeed, and if he feels most comfortable living with Hall, I don’t see why any of us should question his decision.
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