Most likely I’ve going to draw ire from all of the Hall-ogists out there, especially after I laid into him previously for showing us his impression of a ladder during last night’s game versus the Sabres. This is just how I feel. I think Hall is a great talent but he’s not my cup of tea and I don’t think when Team Canada is in a tournament of great importance that Hall is their preference either.
But before we get into why I think Hall will be left off the roster, let’s check out the initial 16 players picked.
F Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars
F Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins
F Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings
F Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins
F Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning
F John Tavares, New York Islanders
F Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks
Something to note is the amount of natural centres on this preliminary list. I count at least 8. You could debate whether Carter and Stamkos are centres but I’ve said this before. Mike Babcock is going to win, not impress the fans with the flash and dash, and his roster will reflect that.
I refer you to this quote from Team Canada GM Doug Armstrong:
“Mike (Babcock) likes predictability. He likes players he can play in all situations,”
Hall does not fit the description of a player Mike Babcock would take to win a tournament in the manner that he won the gold medal at the most recent Olympics in Socchi and everyone will refer to Hall’s play during the World Championships last year whilst playing on a line with Sidney Crosby and Jordan Eberle. To that I say, poppycock!
The World Championships is a tournament that doesn’t pit the best vs. the best. It’s quality, sure, but it’s not the Olympics, it’s not the World Cup, it’s not a tournament that Hockey Canada takes as serious. This World Cup in Toronto is huge for them. It’s been twelve years since they last held the event and they’ve got no intention of losing on home ice.
Hall is not a player that plays in all situations. He’s an elite offensive talent but if that’s all he’s bringing to the table, he’s not going to make it. Every one of those players named today play PK minutes. Do you know how many minutes Taylor Hall has played on the penalty kill? THREE!! THREE MINUTES!! Does that sound like a player that can play in all situations? I didn’t think so.
Let’s look at the other forwards named today and see how many PK minutes they’ve accrued.
F Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars (103:09 min)
F Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins (137:33 min)
F Jeff Carter, Los Angeles Kings (97:58 min)
F Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins (28:51 min)
F Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks (63:29 min)
F Tyler Seguin, Dallas Stars (1:14 min)**
F Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (37:31 min)
F John Tavares, New York Islanders (3:13 min)**
F Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks (95:41 min)
We can see here that John Tavares and Tyler Seguin are also players that don’t get much TOI on the PK. But if I have to spell out to you why you take Seguin and Tavares over Hall, you might need to take off the rose-coloured glasses. Seriously. Seguin and Tavares are 7th and 8th in the NHL for face-off% respectivly and Seguin is challenging for the scoring title while sitting 3rd in the league in goals scored (32). Hall just hit 20…
Well you might say to me that it’s early days and the full roster hasn’t been decided on but I think you really fear Hall being left off because you might feel it’s some sort of travesty towards him as a player and the Oilers as a team. Old news. If he was dominating the NHL like he’s being expected to, he’d definitely be more of a consideration but his production has fallen off of a cliff… Well maybe not that bad but it’s nowhere near what it was at the beginning of the season.
You might tell me to name another left winger that is better than Hall. And to that I’ll say that Mike Babcock doesn’t care about positions as much as he does about players who fit his system and are willing to “buy in”. You’d think that a player who’s had 7 NHL coaches in his career would be used to buying in and being a team player by now and as much as he appears more mature and is saying the right things in the post game interviews, he’s still playing the same game.
Consider the options that Hockey Canada has instead of Taylor Hall and make an argument against them. Rick Nash, Corey Perry, Matt Duchene, Ryan O’Reilly, Tyler Toffoli, Mark Stone, Jason Spezza, Patrick Sharp, or maybe even Mike Hoffman.
Let me present to you three I think are MUCH better than choices than Hall at this point.
- Joe Thornton – You might say he’s too old at 36 years of age but he’s 9th in the league in scoring, an even better playmaker, a bigger player, and a centre. Also, was perviously the captain of the San Jose Sharks and is a Team Canada vet.
- Claude Giroux – Similar point production to Hall but adds a very competitive and shit disturbing element to the roster. Work ethic can never be questioned and he’s a captain.
- Brad Marchand – 5th in league scoring and the league’s penultimate scoring pest. Is having a helluva season and if a player is on a high you take him while he’s riding it.
Those are three players right there that are statistically (fancy) in line or better than Hall. Check out the CA60 (shot suppression) and CD60 (useful possession) on all three. It’s a telling story.
I’ve heard notable names (Lowetide, McCurdy, Craig Simpson) in the media questioning Hall’s inclusion on the team. They have said he should be in the conversation but by no means a lock. Bob Stauffer said he’d be stunned if he was on the initial roster but he believes Hall will eventually be on the roster.
And let’s not forget that Tom Renney, Hall’s former coach, is president and CEO of Hockey Canada and surely his opinion of Hall could weigh in on whether the Kingston Cannonball will be part of Team Canada this summer or whether he’ll be watching from his home cheering on teammates Andrej Sekera, Leon Draisaitl, Connor McDavid or possibly Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
I’m just saying be prepared if he’s not on the team at all. If he makes it though, great! Good for him, good for the Oilers and I’d get to eat some crow. Everybody wins.
Let me know how you feel about Taylor Hall being included or excluded on Team Canada for this summer’s World Cup of Hockey in the comments below!