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THN.com Blog: What Taylor Hall forfeited for a senseless fight

Taylor Hall had 42 points in 65 games before getting injured in a fight with Columbus' Derek Dorsett that ended the rookie's season. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

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Taylor Hall had 42 points in 65 games before getting injured in a fight with Columbus' Derek Dorsett that ended the rookie's season. (Photo by Andy Devlin/NHLI via Getty Images)

The hockey culture never ceases to amaze. Legions of old time hockey lovers have spent the past couple of days tripping over themselves extolling Taylor Hall for all that character he showed in picking a scrap with Derek Dorsett.

Yup, all that, uh, character that ended with Hall enduring a high ankle sprain and putting the brakes on what was shaping up to be a fine season really served him well. Taking on a guy who had 32 career fights certainly shows a lot of, uh, character, doesn’t it?

Actually it shows nothing more than immaturity and outright stupidity. Instead of talking about how much character their young rookie has, the Oilers should be seething that Hall put himself in that position in the first place. And if Hall didn’t have such a sore ankle, you’d have to think he’d be kicking himself right about now.

First, let’s start with the legacy, shall we? The Calder Trophy is the only NHL award players have just one opportunity to win. And Hall was making an excellent run at it through his first 65 games this season. But any chance he ever had of being named rookie of the year has come to an abrupt end and Hall will have to watch as someone else takes that trophy this season.

Now let’s move on to the money. Hall has already earned $1.215 million of the possible $3.75 million he stood to make in salary and performance bonuses in the first year of his entry level deal with the Oilers. But there’s a good chance the injury he suffered in the fight with Dorsett will cost him more than $200,000 and might have ultimately cost him more than $600,000.

Here’s why. Hall earns $212,500 in bonus money if he is named to the all-rookie team this season. You’d have to think Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes and Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks have two of the three forward spots locked down, unless of course either one of them is stupid enough to get involved in an ill-advised fight with a far more experienced player. That likely leaves the last spot to one of Hall, Michael Grabner of the New York Islanders, Derek Stepan of the New York Rangers, Tyler Ennis of the Buffalo Sabres, Brad Marchand of the Boston Bruins, Bryan Bickell of the Chicago Blackhawks and Oilers teammate Jordan Eberle. While Hall sits out the final 17 games and watches all those players pass him in the NHL’s scoring race, the chances of Hall getting that spot will get slimmer.

Hall also had an outside shot of scoring 60 points this season and averaging 0.73 points per game, each of which would have earned him another $212,500. It would have required 18 points in 17 games, but with Dustin Penner traded and Ales Hemsky injured, Hall would have been the Oilers undisputed go-to offensive player and would have undoubtedly filled more minutes at even strength and on the power play. Had he really gone nuts and scored 13 goals, that would have represented another $212,500. It’s unlikely he would have done it, but thanks to his injury we’ll never know.

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And what about his development as a player? Forget what 17 games down the home stretch against teams in desperate playoff races would have done for Hall’s career. The injury will keep him from doing anything significant until at least late April. So instead of finishing the season and taking a little time off before getting back into the gym, Hall will now spend the first part of the off-season getting his conditioning and strength back instead of building on the base that should have already been there.

The funny thing is, nobody had ever questioned Hall’s character. He didn’t become the No. 1 overall draft choice by having a character deficiency and he didn’t have anything to prove by going after the guy who is tied for the fifth-most fights in the NHL this season.

But it’s all part of the culture of violence that surrounds this game that dictates every hit, clean or dirty, every verbal slight, every act of belligerence, has to be responded to with an act of vengeance and to not do so somehow creates a character issue. It was that kind of silliness in which Hall was taking part and it cut short his season.

Not sure exactly how that shows so much character.

WHERE’S CLUTTERBUCK’S SUSPENSION?

Anything that knocks a Federal League mouth breather such as Trevor Gillies out of the NHL for 10 more games is fine by me, so I’m not about to criticize the suspension the league gave to Gillies for his hit from behind on Cal Clutterbuck of the Minnesota Wild.

The only question I have is why did Clutterbuck get off without so much as a wrist slap? To these eyes, Clutterbuck’s hit from behind on Justin DiBenedetto was far worse than the one Gillies laid on Clutterbuck. In fact, Clutterbuck is probably lucky Gillies responded the way he did because it took away from how vicious his hit on DiBenedetto was.

 

Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog will appear every Monday throughout the season.

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