Taylor Hall belonged to an Edmonton Oilers core often derided among hockey pundits for its lack of on-ice maturity. The group, which included first overall picks Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, dazzled with offensive skill but was criticized for a lack of defensive awareness, particularly Hall and Yakupov. They were paid like star players and honored as celebrities in Edmonton despite never making the playoffs.
But a conversation with Hall after his trade to the New Jersey Devils, however, bursts that bubble of supposed entitlement. He addressed a group of reporters in a scrum at BioSteel’s 2016 Pro Hockey Camp Tuesday in Toronto, and the one word he evoked: maturity. He spoke with a world-weariness, choosing frank answers to questions instead of cliches.
Was the stunning 1-for-1 trade sending left winger Hall to the Devils for defenseman Adam Larsson “just part of the game”? Not for Hall. He took it personally. It did not roll off his back by any means. He made that clear when one reporter asked him if the trade felt like breaking up with a lover.
“Yeah, in the sense that, in a breakup, you just try to forget about it as quick as you can, right?” Hall said. “And that’s what I’m trying to do. It’s not easy.”