Today, myself and some of the other BLH bloggers engaged in a conversation surrounding the captaincy, and Taylor Hall. You can view Beer League Heros blog about why he thinks Taylor Hall shouldn’t be captain of the Oilers here.
I’ll touch on Hall and the captaincy a bit later, but the primary purpose of this blog is to pose rebuttals to the most commonly stated arguments I hear from people who argue that Taylor Hall is “a bum” or he should be traded. Quite frankly, I find these people idiotic (and that is putting it nicely). No NHL team in their right minds would draft a player like Hall, and then trade him for peanuts because “he doesn’t backcheck enough”, or “he is reckless”, or any of the other ridiculous arguments I constantly hear about Hall.
So let’s address some of those arguments:
1) “Taylor Hall Doesn’t backcheck”
Do you even hockey bro? I’m not sure what sport people are watching, but many of Hall’s strongest critics (and I suspect they are also Yakupov critics as well) commonly state that Hall doesn’t backcheck. This is total BS. What these people don’t seem to understand about hockey, is that sometimes a forward gets caught deep in the offensive zone, and the puck quickly heads back up the ice. This can happen in a number of ways. A great stretch pass. A chip off the boards that is carried out at exactly the right time. The point is that even a player with Halls speed and endurance can’t skate back to the puck 100% of the time if he’s caught deep in the offensive zone during a bad turn over or unfortunate bounce, or while on the forecheck. This is hockey 101, and shouldn’t need to be explained to you, folks.
2) “Taylor Hall sucked last year”
No. No he didn’t. Taylor Hall was injured. Once coming back from injury, Hall was scoring nearly a ppg playing on the 3rd line with limited minutes. He cooled off a bit towards the close of the regular season, but he was very much an impact player. People who make this argument also seem to forget that Taylor Hall was top 10 league wide in points the prior 2 seasons. Which leads me to the next argument that Hall haters LOVE:
3) “Taylor Hall is reckless. He’s injured all the time.”
We need to address each part of this argument separately, but I often see them used in tandem. If you take Taylor Halls speed, tenacity, and aggressive offensive play out of his game, what do you have left? A 3rd line grinder, that’s what. The reason Hall went 1st over all in the first place is precisely because he drives the play, he’s aggressive, he’s fast, and he wants to make something happen every shift. Take that aspect out of Hall’s game and you have a shell of the player he is today.
Which brings us to the second portion of this argument. Hall DOES have an injury history, and that simply can’t be denied. However, which player in the NHL doesn’t? There are very few iron men in the league, and people should measure their expectations of Hall’s point production with his injury issues. In addition, the poor kid has been on the receiving end of so much bad luck you have to wonder if he needs a witch doctor. How many NHL players in the last 10 years have missed games because they had their face stepped on by a teammates skate in practice? Hall is the only one I can think of. Correct me if I’m wrong.
While Hall’s injury last year saw him limited to 53 games, he still posted a very reasonable 38 points, despite playing limited minutes on the 3rd line. Under Dallas Eakins. Let that last point sink in for a moment, and then simply look at his previous point totals.
Finally, there is my favorite argument against Hall of them all!
4) “Taylor Hall has character problems!”
I just don’t get this at all. People who use this argument usually claim that their cousins best friends boyfriends uncle met Hall at some club, and he was a jerk. NOBODY CARES. Seriously. So you met Taylor Hall and you thought he was a jerk. Maybe he was having a bad day? Maybe you were being a jerk? Maybe you just think you’re much more important than you actually are? Maybe Taylor Hall does? Maybe I’m a jerk? I don’t give a crap. What I care about is how Hall interacts with his team mates, and how he performs on the ice. His team mates have nothing but good things to say about him, and his play speaks for itself.
Taylor Hall is on record as saying he’s often been interpreted as being arrogant because he is shy and reserved. I can relate, because I have experienced the exact same judgment due to having a very similar temperament around people I don’t know.
If you aren’t in the locker room, you have no clue. Period.
On the Captaincy
Having mentioned all of that, I’d like to address the issue of Hall potentially taking on the Captaincy. While it’s no secret I believe Taylor Hall is part of the Oilers future and it would be stupid to even consider trading him (unless the return was equal in value for the club); I’m not sure if he is ready to take over the captaincy. Ideally, I’d like to see the captaincy handed to a player like Matt Hendricks. Anyone who’s seen an episode of “Oil Change” featuring Hendricks knows he’s very vocal both in the room and on the bench, and is a natural leader. He also fits the mold of the typical Oilers captain: Hard working hard nosed grinder.
Very few of Edmonton’s captains have been offensive stars since the Doug Weight days. Most of them have been blue collar lunch pale guys that reflect the work ethic that many oilers fans love. Basically, “they backcheck lots!”. Given the fact that there were already people crying on social media for Hall to be traded after taking a bad penalty late in the 3rd period of a PRESEASON GAME, I’d hate to see how the same crowd would react if he had the C on his sweater and ended up injured or in a scoring slump. I’m quite certain many would break out the pitchforks and torches and run him out of town.
Edmonton’s captaincy issue is convoluted, and there is no easy solution. If indeed Andrew Ference is either traded or gives up the C willingly, the best options I can see are either having no captain for the time being, or selecting a captain by team committee.
This has been a subject that that has been gnawing at me since last season when people started chirping about Hall once he got injured. It was only a matter of time until I wrote something in defense of Taylor Hall, but it was also partly inspired by another blog written by Kurt Leavins which you can read here.
In conclusion, Hall haters can suck it. You can argue with me in the comments or do so on Twitter here.