Edmonton’s Beating Heart

At the centre of Edmonton’s December surge up the standings
has been Taylor Hall, the beating heart of the Edmonton Oilers.

Edmonton’s first ever first overall pick came into town
playing the role of the saviour without a supporting cast in place. Aside from
Jordan Eberle, there wasn’t a lot to work with moving forward from those early
days of the rebuild, evidenced by the fact that Hall and Eberle now stand as
the longest serving Oilers on the club.

The weight of expectation for a top pick in the draft is
something I will unquestionably never know, but I imagine it must have been
difficult. Difficult knowing as a teenager that the franchise was yours to run
with and where it went was going to be determined by how far you could go.

As a rule of thumb, all first overall picks go to bad teams.
However, none were more open about wanting to be bad as the Oilers were. It
wasn’t something the team apologized for and felt they needed to rectify. Being
bad was THE PLAN. Unfortunately for Taylor Hall, teams and their players are
judged on winning and losing.

Coles Notes: Winning teams are filled with winners. Losing
teams are filled with losers. Not a lot of grey area. Not a lot of nuance.

Poor Taylor Hall came to an Oilers team with no hope of
winning. As a quick example of the state of the team, eight of the 12 defensemen
Edmonton used in 2010-2011 aren’t playing in the NHL anymore. The bottom six forwards are pretty much in the same boat. Shocker: the team built to lose
actually lost a lot of games. Weird.

The Oilers were terrible. And, as it always goes, when teams
are bad their best players almost never get the respect they deserve. Edmonton
is bad, therefore, Taylor Hall must not be that good.

Wrong.

Dead Wrong.

There has been a lot of digital ink spilled about Connor
McDavid and now Leon Draisaitl. Rightfully those two deserve it all. However,
the Oilers don’t belong to them. Taylor Hall still holds the keys to the
franchise. He never gave them up.

Katz and the Oiler brass tasked Hall with a job that he hasn’t
finished yet. They labelled him the face of the franchise and promised the
world that soon enough all the pain would be worth it.

Well it isn’t worth it yet. The team hasn’t won a damn thing,
and Taylor Hall knows that. And I don’t believe for a second that he’s going to
give up before this thing gets turned around.

Since he arrived here the Oilers have been a completely
different team with him on the ice compared to when he’s off it. He has driven
the play and picked up points, often with him as the catalyst.

Somehow Taylor Hall has been a top 10 scorer twice in his
career and now well on pace for a third time, without ever receiving
the credit he’s due. Until very recently the Oilers have been a one line team.
All teams needed to do was stop Hall-RNH-Eberle and there was no threat of
secondary scoring.

This year, as McDavid, Pouliot, Yakupov, Eberle, and Schultz
all fell to injury for extended periods of time Hall once again put the team on
his back. Now older, stronger, and more mature he has pulled the team up from
the bottom of the standings up to a place where they might be able to compete
for a playoff spot.

This year the Oilers finally have scoring depth, but the
club needs to buy time for all of those players to return healthy. It’s Taylor
Hall buying that time.

Hall has 27 even strength points this year, tied for second
in the NHL.

He has 34 points total in 30 games, fourth in NHL
scoring.

His 124 shots are the third most of any player in
the NHL this season so far.

The five game winning goals he’s scored are tied for the most
in the NHL this year.

Taylor Hall is one of the world’s most elite left wingers,
without a doubt. The only people left who don’t see that are the ones still
confusing the team’s record with Hall’s value.

One of the questions about Hall I was posed by a reader
recently was “What does Hall do better than anyone else?” I had to think about
it for a bit.

Steven Stamkos has his shot. Alex Ovechkin is probably the
greatest goal scorer of his generation. Some players are impossible to hit.
Others have unreal vision.

Taylor Hall gets hit. He is fast but not the fastest in the
NHL. Hall is an underrated playmaker. Number 4 can shoot but it isn’t his
greatest weapon. None of those things are his greatest weapon. None of those
things are what makes him special.

What makes Taylor Hall the player he is today is his drive.
It’s that motor that doesn’t quit. It’s that he skates full tilt into the wind,
into danger, and he does it knowing he’s going to make the play. When someone
asks me now what Taylor Hall does that others don’t, I can safely say that it’s
not what he does but rather what he doesn’t.

Taylor Hall doesn’t quit. It’s what made him the right
player to be the cornerstone of the franchise. It’s why when the team lost so
many to injury he put the club on his back. It’s why he’s once again Edmonton’s
leading scorer and it’s why before the next season has started there will be a
C sewn onto his sweater.

Taylor Hall is still the face of this franchise and his is the
beating heart of the Edmonton Oilers.

  • bobinyvr

    Holy Crap!

    I think everyone is missing the point of this article. I believe Matt meant that when we drafted Taylor, there was no real hope of us being good for quite some time. It wasn’t like Hall was going to turn this team around with the supporting cast we had at the time.

    As for Hall, he is this team’s captain and he f’n deserves it. Look what he has endured as a player for this team. We sit on our couches and complain because they suck. We rip our players new ones after stupid plays and we constantly want to trade away everyone.

    What if Taylor Hall was your son? Imagine the pressure on an 18 year old kid who is suppose to be great every night? Imagine having your private life scrutinized 24/7? So what if he makes a ton of money? That’s the business.

    Remember the kid that said, “This is the team I want to go to!” He said that even knowing the state of the franchise. He basically spit on Eakins for pulling the goalie in a game he still though we could win. He had to endure that moron for two seasons. I couldn’t stand listening to him in a post game presser, imagine having him in your head every day for two full years?????????

    I want him to succeed so bad, he has put up with a ton of crap and he is now mature enough to handle the responsibility.

    Alll at the ripe old age of 24.

    • TheBirdOfAnger

      Under no circumstances will I accept or use an excuse for not winning which hinges upon the men who wear the Teams logo and battle together.

      Not winning ….does NOT EQUATE to….underperforming…..it equates to a lack of execution…..it MAY sometimes be caused by underpeformance,but at the NHL level this is rare.

      A lack of process execution is in most cases related to inaccurate inputs or valuations,what goes in is what comes out.

      Accurate valuations are directly related to … self-inflection and honesty….one begets the other.

      The Winning Formula is based upon honesty and recognition of the moment….upon respect and thankfullness .

      The Oilers had a capable roster when Hall was drafted and by 2012 the Oilers were producing outstanding but sporadic results,IMHO with no proof of such Upper Management had their fingers in the Pie screwing the processes up acoss the board preventing natural evolution which showed CLEARLY that Gagner and Krueger had found out how to lead the Team to dominance when the proper methods were used.

      If people believe that Samwise and Jonesey and others were PURGED including several Coaches to PREVENT THE EVOLUTION of the Roster into a WINNING ENTITY to support a long-term plan of sub-par production /high drafting….well statistics clearly would support you.If you could find an honest stats focused analyst to help you illuminate this dynamic.If you believed the Roster was PURGED to rid the Organisation of a pervasive external influence we now call the NHS which was threatening to implode this long term plan of sub-par production by intermittently catalysing DYNASTY RECORD LEVEL RESULTS,well statistics would support this as well.Hall had a perfect introduction and tons of resources were expended stabilising him at the NHL level,he would have crashed and burned without severe intervention and elite management which sure as hell wasnt coming from only the Oilers.

      Taylor Hall was an only Child when he broke in with the Oilers and he had MASSIVE VOLUMES OF ATTENTION GIVEN TO HIM….then when Nugey popped in Hall DIDNT LOSE HIS SOOTHER…and Nugey took a back-seat immediatly like a sibling,then Nail came in and was pushed into 3rd spot just like a sibling….all of these young men have had DIMINISHING VOLUMES OF RESOURCES COMITTED TO THEM in chronological order,so when we valuate them individually we MUST use this perspective when considering their evolutionay waypoints and potential ceilings.

      EXPECTATIONS as per environment/resource comittment must be individually considered….and Hall is NOT OVER-PRODUCING…he hasnt reached his ceiling yet.But he is NO HOCKEY GOD as per his path to date.

      Nuge and Nail in that order have displayed in Spades what I want from leadership on my Team RESSILLIANCE TRUCULENCE UNSELFISHNESS and DRIVE…..in the face of substantial adversity.

      Considering this dynamic,Leons performance and McDavidskys performances are DIRECTLY ENHANCED BY Hall-Ebbs-Nuge-Nail….these two newcomers have THE PERFECT INCUBATOR….where Nugey and Nail recieved DIMINISHING INCUBATORS deficient ones,Dre’ and McGretzky are in the eye of the Perfect Storm environment-wise.They are NOT OVERPERFORMING…BELIEVE IT….they are as real as rain.

      IMHO Nuge-Nail are VASTLY UNDER-VALUED and HAVE THE GREATEST VOLUME OF UNTAPPED CEILING.

      Nuge can run IMHO a Gretzky-like offense and break 100 pts consistantly and Yak IMHO is a 50 goal scorer,both can grow into these roles by adding to their toolboxes and with more support….the question is how we keep Hall at a PPG or more while we evolve these other two men.

      What we need is a C/RW who can light it up with Hall on LW…we have tried Eberle and we have tried Yakupov….both blue-blood shooters….Nuge is a legitimate scoring centerman and always has been…he DE-VOLVED himself to support Halls growth .Taylors recent evolution has saved his bacon…and we will soon see if he is willing to be a support player to Nuge and Yakupov….because that is IMHO the 1st line we will see pushing us into next season.

      Simply breaking into the NHL under perfect circumstances then getting an ESCALATING LEVEL OF TOP LEVEL SKILL INJECTED FOR 5 CONSECUTIVE YEARS does not a Captain make AJ sorry.It is impressive to see Hall producing on par….but expected.

      Yes Eakins hurt everyone…in retrospect IMHO he hurt Nail and Hall the most in that order….Hall because he mind-screwed him and kept trying to make it look like he was closer to Taylor than Taylor was to his mates Eakins used Hallsy as an unknowing wedge….Nail was keel-hauled because Eakins was tying to indoctrinate Hallsy and knew Nail was loyal to Gagner ,DE knew there was a rivalry between Hall and Nail because Hall fought Gagners leadership hard.

      Hall was the LEAST SCATHED BY EAKINS…he was PROTECTED BY EAKINS….sheltered…..but he never sold out.

      @AJGass….H-O-N-E-S-T-Y….first with self then with your brothers in arms.You need to understand Sam Gagner didnt score 8 points on “one of those nights” it was process based….and Sam and the Oilers stats records prove this to be true….they were sporadiclly producing Dynasty level results in todays NHL using a cutting edge NewAge process everyone was FORCED TO ABANDON under PUNATIVE DIRECTIVES.You need to know that in 2009-10-11 the Oilers were learning the philosophies and concepts which the Kings in 2012 took to the Cup and the Hawks in 2013 took to the Cup…but the Oilers were DENIED THIS TOOLBOX intentionally….one they HAD FIRST.

      Growth on both personal and team levels.

      We have winning to do and honesty is the path of least resistance…..none of us are in the Oilers room and this is all entertainment level conjecture and speculations and FUN lol…lol.

      Matt Hendricks for Captain….we need to settle in for 2 more years….and WIN….Blue-Collar on-ice Leadership for 2 more years is needed.Perfect fit short-term.

      • passenger

        Heyyyy there fella! Do you have a website where you dive deeper your ideas? I fear you’re holding back on us. I’d really like to get a better feel for the nuances and subtleties you keep hinting at.

        • passenger

          I am not in the Hockey business,sorry,not on any level.

          If you are interested in things most people dont believe in like Gypsys and Intuitive Empaths… Google search by adding “Oilers” or “Hockey” or “NHL” to these words, NewAgeSys,Intuitve Dynamic Analysis,Intuitive Dynamic Management,Moma2s NewAge Hockey System,Tactical Shooting Program, and will find lots of entertainment value reading.

          Before you google anything hockey look up Intuitive Empath, in case you have any further questions it will save time.

          No Blog,no website,no facts ,no claim to facts external to a near decade long entertainment value story.

          However ,once you accept that you are reading a fictional story by an Intuitive Empath ….well you might begin looking at some of your childhood fairytales differently…..lol.

          If you are statisticlly inclined brace yourself because reality and entertainment value story-lines do sometimes CRASH TOGETHER and overlap in peculiar ways….lol.

          If you are interested in a guided tour down the Rabbit-hole,just say so, buy a pay-as-you-go disposable and post a # and we will take a ride on the wild side,going back in time to parse together the single entertainment value concurrent overriding storyline impacting 6 Oilers Head Coaches and one Interim Head Coach,4 consecutive Stanley Cups,the evolution of Professional NHL Hockey itself,the fun will have just begun ,whats your favorite flavor the proverbial red pill or blue pill?Personally when I eat my Smarties I eat the Red ones last…and I pair my Blue ones with Vintage Bacon.

          • passenger

            Lol…its not hard to get people to accept you are Roma ..lol…you ought to try getting people to accept you are an Intuitive Empath…lol.

            A wee bit jumpy on the bigotry card methinks… lol.

            I use the comparison with pride dont get me wrong…there was no bigotry intended….lol…there are simply few well know institutions as widely accepted by the Status Quo as Gypsies are for being associated with clairvoiance and intuition to some degrees,and really how else can I explain what an Intuitive Empath is?

            I am aware of the regional stereotypes and sufferages experienced by the Roma people enough to have a solid sense of empathy for them and for any group being suppressed in an organised long term manner.

            When you read my term Gypsy-Dollar ,please dont take offense,it is a reference to the amazing beauty of something which is often referred to in singular terms{dollar} but which may be put together in many many diverse and different ways{pennies,nickels,dimes,quarters} and also taken apart without losing its pristine value,the inference is that no matter how many times you try to change the right thing or what you wish to call it, it will always remain right as rain and I would without hesitation trust my instincts and put my confidence behind something the status quo intentionally misvalues if I saw value .

            Have fun catching up on an old and long story!

      • offshoreoil

        Honesty?

        I think you completely missed the point of my post and I’ve read your reply a few times and am completely confused by it.

        I’ve watched every game since Taylor and Co. were drafted. Most nights our team was a gong show, the standings are completely HONEST.

        You must have insider information on the team because the rift between any of these guys is something I know nothing about. However, losing game after game can do that to anyone.

        But I do appreciate your thoughts.

  • The Soup Fascist

    Honestly, anyone not seeing Hall as an elite player in this league is either:

    1. Someone who knows nothing about hockey.
    2. Inherently stupid.
    3. Trolling
    4. Jealous of others success
    5. All of the above (by definition – a Flames Fan)

    The first two are excusable the last three are choices you make. Hall is the driver behind this team right now. There are other nice things happening including decent goaltending, some timely play by bottom sixers who were quiet earlier this year and the emergence of Leon as a talent and whose skills compliment Hall’s. Most likely though an experienced and focused coach is beginning to impact some young talent.

    There are people throughout society who are not happy unless they are miserable. And this site is no different.

    So, here is hoping the Oilers stay on their run and get healthy soon. There will be bumps ahead. This team is far from perfect. Playoffs are still a bit of a reach, but at least there is hope and it appears a corner has been turned.

    Thank God.

    ….. And Thank You, Taylor.

  • Canoe Ride 27.1

    Wait until he peaks. The kid is still 24.

    From UBC news: “A new University of British Columbia study identifies when the clock runs out on an NHLplayer’s peak performance, giving team executives insight into how best to build a roster.

    The study by Sauder School of Business Prof. James Brander found that the performance of forwards peaks between the ages of 27 and 28. Defencemen are best between 28 and 29, and the performance of goaltenders varies little by age.”

    This is probably common knowledge around here but exciting to think about.

    Great to see him use his physicality too. I.e. the Nurse goal Friday night.

  • tileguy

    This article has produced some of the best discussions in a long time. The arguments put forth on the tanking were very convincing both ways, so much so that I am not sure where I stand on the issue. Taylor talk was full of intelligent emotion, heck, I even read through (some) new age posts. Highly enjoyable read. Thanks to all the posters that kept it interesting and the odd humorous snippets

    Ps, is the slats painting on line anywhere, did anybody get a good look at it?

  • offshoreoil

    The epitome of tanking:

    Going into a season with Gagner, Arcobello and Acton as your Centers.

    Oiler’s tanked going into the Hall draft. Continued through RNH and Yakupov. Then I think they started trying to pull themselves out but couldn’t due to management being in too deep.

    It’s starting to look good now.