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FEATURE: Hall on track for full recovery

"The athletic staff here did a great job with me. From Ray to the medical staff, it was great. They found some loose fragments and were able to take those out. I've been great ever since."

by Marc Ciampa / newjerseydevils.com

NEWARK, NJ - Devils forward Taylor Hall spoke with the media on Monday as Devils players were about to go their separate ways for the summer. For Hall more than any other, he left this season with a feeling of unfinished business. 

Video: Excerpt from Taylor Hall Media Availability

"If last year was a great year, personally and as a team, this year was pretty much the exact opposite. That's tough but it's life, it's sports. It's going to happen," said Hall, who missed the entire second half of the season only playing in 33 games. "It was tough on the body and the mind this year."

What the Devils need from Hall more than anything heading into next season is a clean bill of health and that's exactly what he's on the way to providing. 

"The recovery's been well. We had the surgery and thought there was maybe a chance of me playing this year. When it came down to it, I don't think the opportunity was there. Focusing on next year, the start of the season next year that's my priority now. That's where I'm at," Hall stated, adding that the timeline was on track to him being 100% healthy. 

Hall added that he won't be playing in the World Championships this year despite his progress. His normal time to start skating in a regular off-season is June so he wanted to stick to that schedule. 

"I still have some rehab to go through right now, making sure everything is 100%. I'm doing everything off ice to get myself 100% healthy. At this point, skating there's no point to skate right now. We want to make sure that everything off the ice, in the weight room, on the track, whatever I'm doing is 100% and then I'll make the transition to the ice," he noted. "I don't want to be skating for six months leading up to the season. I want to make sure I have a rest, a break. Traditionally, I start skating at the start of June and I'm on track to do that now."

The toughest part for Hall was the frustration of not knowing exactly how long he'll be out due to the nature of the injury and what the MRIs were showing -- or not showing. 

"I've never been through anything like that before. The uncertainty I've faced was one of the hardest things. Not knowing what was going to happen. When I got MRIs intiially - I had three different MRIs - numerous experts looked at them and there was never anything definitive on them. That's why the process took longer."

Hall talked about the great work done by the Devils medical staff in what was a difficult time. 

"The athletic staff here did a great job with me. I was on the same page. There's nothing I would change about the last three-and-a-half months. I'm on board with the staff here and how I was treated. From Ray to the medical staff, it was great.

"They found some loose fragments and were able to take those out. I've been great ever since."

Devils head coach John Hynes said that losing Hall was a difficult blow to the team, which goes without saying considering Hall won the Hart Trophy as the NHL's Most Valuable Player the season before. 

"It's unfortunate Taylor had the injury and missed so much time but the way he as the player handled it was very thorough. We've all been on the same page," Hynes began. "He's a big part of our team. We certainly missed him and we're excited to get him healthy. He's an elite player on the ice and can continue to grow our organization and grow our players.

"Taylor's a very important part of what we're doing. You look at both sides of it, where he's grown as a player. It's been a great fit for him personally and a great fit for us. His impact as a high-end player in the league, what he can do to help the team and this organization.

"I'm looking forward to having him come back, motivated and healthy and ready to take a step to help us next season."

Devils general manager Ray Shero echoed the thoughts of his coach. 

"We certainly missed him this year. He's a passionate kid. It's been a great addition for our franchise both on and off the ice."

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