How to make the Nation hate you 101: admit that you’re not a fan of Taylor Hall.
It’s not because he didn’t sleep with me after a night out at the Ranch or because he snubbed me on a high five once — these events never actually took place, BTW — but it is because I find him to be reckless, unfortunately efficient at generating turnovers, and a festering pit of bad attitude. That being said, there’s no denying that he’s a talented guy, which brings me to my point: You’re not so bad, Taylor.
After watching Hall play at the World Championships, I am vowing to keep an open mind should he remain on the Oilers roster this coming season. Before the tournament started, I was as quick as many others to accuse him of being a cancer to the team, but the more I watched him play for the red and white, the more I realized that watching him play without a massive scapegoat target on his back calmed my hater-esque feelings against him.
Though the talk of the town is McDavid and his timely goal, Hall’s contributions shouldn’t go unnoticed. Hall lead all Team Canada forwards in ice time in the gold medal game, seeing the ice for 19:26, and finished the tournament with six goals and three assists in ten games. While his work ethic was undeniable, I didn’t see the reckless “I’m invincible” play I’ve so often judged him for in the past. Could this be a sign of the maturity fans have long since been yearning to see from him?
Here in Edmonton, Taylor Hall has been dealt the unfortunate hand of being the scapegoat for many Oilers fans. I’ve heard on multiple occasions that the team will never get their hands on the Cup with him in the lineup, that he makes the players around him worse, and that his presence in the dressing room brings down the entire team. The funny thing is, the people saying this have never stepped foot inside the Oilers dressing room (and half have probably never worn a pair of skates).
Oilers fans (myself among them) are so tired of the massive black hole of suck we’ve all been subject to for the last ten years that we’re willing to blame anything and anyone for the shit we have to suffer through. Cue Taylor Hall. The guy’s got layers upon layers of bullseye rings on his back that he can’t shake off. He’s under a microscope every game (and every bar outing) so that fans can pin yet another excuse for the Oilers’ woes on him. Need I remind you all of the water bottle incident that resulted in powerful fuel for the haters’ fire? It’s too bad Eakins only acted like he melted upon water contact rather than actually melting.
Two weeks ago, I didn’t care if Hall ever wore an Oilers jersey again, but today I’m less quick to believe that trading Hall will lead me to drink less beer throughout the season. Would I be opposed to sending him for a non-useless defenceman? No. Am I just as quick to jump to the “solution” of getting rid of one of our best forwards because he’s the best man to blame? Definitely not.
Watching Taylor Hall celebrate his gold medal with a smile on his face was an odd, yet welcoming sight. The kid hasn’t had a lot to smile about in his NHL career, but maybe some Oilers fans can smile a little more knowing that Taylor Hall is not quite the team cancer he’s been painted as. It’s easy to acknowledge the talent of a player on a team that isn’t looking for a fall guy.