Taylor Hall knows that success doesn't come without a great team. With the support of his parents, Steve and Kim, Taylor has learned from an early age what it meant to be a team player.
Growing up in Calgary as the son of a football-player-turned-bobsledder, there was no doubt that being an elite athlete was in Taylor Hall's genes, but his dad had never played hockey in his life. It was his mom who put him on skates and got him started in hockey.
"She's the best hockey mom I know," said Hall. "I can remember one time - it was a 7am practice on a Saturday morning - and my mom had just completed a week of work and she woke me up at six and said, "Taylor, do you really want to go to practice today?" and I said, "Yes, of course!" I live for hockey. I live for the games and for the practices and I was so excited and, unfortunately for my mom, she had to take me to practice that day. That was one time I can remember when all she wanted to do was sleep in, but she was a team player and took me."
Once his dad realized hockey was his passion and that he had a natural talent for it, he wanted to give Taylor everything he could to become the best hockey player possible and that included a backyard rink.
"He was the best rink builder I know and has been a very good hockey dad as well," Hall explained. "Training with my dad early on as a kid, everything he emphasized was about speed and skill. I can remember one year, the school board decided to start school around 10:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m. and I would go out and play every day before school for at least a couple hours. My dad would flood it at night and, when you wake up, the ice is perfect, so I would go out there a lot, but it was just hockey all the time. I was always on that backyard rink honing my skills and, when it was summer time, it was road hockey. It was a 24/7 thing. I just loved the game."
|Taylor Hall meets Devils fans for the first time at Prudential Center on Aug. 14. |
His parents also got him involved in other sports like soccer and golf, but hockey held his heart and when he got older and his hockey schedule became more demanding, the other sports fell to the wayside.
"It was maybe around 13-14, I thought I was good enough to play in junior and maybe pro. That's the first time I really thought about it as a possibility and I realized that if I worked hard, I'd have a chance. So, that's what I did," Hall said. "You just realize that there's so many kids that have been this good at this age and they don't do anything. They may not even make it to the OHL. So, it's about keeping your head on right, working hard and making the sacrifices necessary to be [in the NHL]."
Hall has worked hard, made the appropriate sacrifices and accomplished a lot in his hockey career thus far. He's won two Memorial Cups with the Windsor Spitfires while also being named tournament MVP both times. He won gold at the U-18 World Championship as a 16-year-old and then won gold at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament later that fall, also as an underaged player. He helped Team Canada earn a silver medal at the World Junior Championship. He was drafted first overall in the 2010 NHL Draft by the Edmonton Oilers. He made it to the NHL as an 18-year-old, accumulated 132 goals and 328 points in his six professional seasons, was named an NHL All Star earlier this year and has represented Canada three times at the World Championship with two gold medals to show for it.
But, there are two things missing from his resume that he'd like to add as soon as possible and they go hand in hand - playing in the NHL playoffs and winning a Stanley Cup. Hall is hoping the trade that brought him to New Jersey this summer will provide him with a new opportunity to make that happen.
"I think the bottom line is that everyone is out to prove something every night. No one cares where you got drafted or what you've won before. It's the same playing field for everyone," said the 24-year-old 6'1, 200 pound forward. "The people that I want to prove the most to are my new teammates. I'm certainly looking forward to a new opportunity here with a different team, a different system, in a different conference to see what I can do."
As Hall's focus moves towards training camp, he is very well aware this team lacked offensive firepower last season and that the expectation is that he will make a substantial contribution on that end of the ice this year and hopefully many more years to come, but he also knows that he's just one part of the puzzle and that it will take a team effort to find success.
"Last year, they had a very good system defensively and great goaltending and I want to be part of that and be able to contribute offensively as well, but I'm only one guy and it will take a team effort," said Hall. "At the end of the day it's about winning the Stanley Cup and in doing that you have to be the best player you can and you have to contribute the most you can to a team. I know I'm going to do everything I can to help this team become a playoff contender year in and year out and hopefully win a Stanely Cup."
He added: "I just want to win and I'm excited for this new opportunity here in New Jersey. I think it's going to be great."