In his first visit to New Jersey since being traded to the Devils, Taylor Hall found a place to live, got a look at the new locker room that's still under construction, had a photoshoot, sat down with me for Devils All-Access (coming soon!), met with season ticket members for a Q&A, had a lot of opportunity to get used to signing his autograph with #9 and discovered what a toll booth was.
"In Canada, we just drive around wherever we want and don't have to have something on our car or pay anything extra," he said laughing. Welcome to Jersey, Taylor!
It was a very short but productive trip for the 24-year-old and we learned a few things about him along the way…
1) He thinks Adam Henrique is a social media maven and jokes that he might have to mute him soon because he tweets so often.
2) He had a huge tree in the middle of his backyard growing up that they affectionately called Scott Stevens "because if you hit that thing you were out cold!"
3) This summer he's taken his golf handicap from an 18 to a nine, but has put the clubs away for now to focus on getting ready for the season.
4) His first trip to the Newark Airport was an education. "Don't ever check a bag there unless you absolutely have to…I waited an hour for my little bag!"
5) One fan asked him about his pre-game rituals and Hall explained that most players fall into habits like eating at the same place or getting dressed the same way or taking the same road to the arena, but the only thing he's superstitious about is not being superstitious. He doesn't want to do the same thing every day so he likes to change things up all the time, plus…as he says, he's so new that he doesn't even know what highway to take to get to the rink yet!
6) Head coach John Hynes picked him up from his hotel this morning and took him to breakfast along with general manager Ray Shero, something he's never done with his bosses before. He thought this meeting was going to be all about hockey, but said it was more about getting to know each other as people and Hall said he already felt like part of the family because of it.
This afternoon, season ticket members and potential season ticket members were invited to an open house at the Prudential Center called Taste of Membership. Everyone knew Hall would be there, but Cory Schneider made an surprise appearance and praised Shero for doing what he said he was going to do by bringing in more offense and acquiring a player like Hall.
Said Schneider: "It will be nice to see the back of his jersey going the other way instead of him coming towards me with the puck."
That respect is mutual as Hall called Schneider one of the best goalies in the NHL and mentioned how excited he was when he was traded to New Jersey three years ago because he only had to face him twice a year instead of six in Vancouver. Now he's excited to get to shoot on him every day in practice because he feels it will make him a better player.
In all, it was a busy, yet enlightening day for Hall.
"Jersey has a lot more to offer than I thought - I was walking around Hoboken yesterday and people recognized me…I wasn't expecting that - and I can't wait to get started and get involved in the community and help make this team a playoff contender year in and year out and hopefully win a Stanley Cup here."
Get ready...70 days until opening night!