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Hall fills valuable role for Bolts

by Mark Pukalo / Tampa Bay Lightning

Players who scored a lot of goals in juniors and college hockey come and go in the NHL. Those who make a career for themselves learn how to do all the little things right.

Adam Hall scored 79 goals (126 points), nearly a goal every other game, in his college career at Michigan State. He never thought that was enough to be successful at the next level. That attention to detail and willingness to do anything it takes has made him a valuable player for the Lightning, no matter how many minutes he is on the ice. Hall has shown he can be successful on a scoring line at times this season, but has prospered as a key penalty killer and an energy player.

“I’ve always just wanted to play and help my team,” said Hall, who has three goals and three assists this season. “This is just how my career has evolved. My first few years in the league, I was a power-play guy, standing in front of the net, and I had a lot of success tipping pucks. It just depends on the way you are needed by your team. Whether you are playing the last minutes or the first minutes of a game, you just try to be ready for all situations.”

Hall, a 6-foot-3, 206-pound center/wing from Kalamazoo, Mich., scored 43 goals for Nashville in his first three full seasons in the NHL and had 23 in 36 regular-season games playing in Finland during the lockout in 2004-05.

When he was traded to the Rangers in 2006, he became more of a checking-line player and there was no adjustment time needed.

“He works so hard on the ice, not only in games but in practices,” said Lightning rookie Steven Stamkos, who roomed with Hall during training camp. “He sacrifices his body and he is always positive on the bench. …He still has that offensive upside, but he understands if coach wants him to play a shutdown role. A team needs guys like Adam Hall.”

That versatility was enhanced at Michigan State, playing for legendary coach Ron Mason (924 wins).

“He always made sure the offensive players took pride in the defensive end as well,” said Hall, 28, who has played for the United States World Junior and World Championship teams. “It wasn’t run and gun hockey. We wanted to make sure we were a structured team that had a system we knew how to play well.”

Hall had three goals in 17 games on the way to the Stanley Cup finals for Pittsburgh last year and the Lightning signed him to a three-year deal in the off-season. In the second game of the season in the Czech Republic, Hall battled his way to the front of the net and gave Tampa Bay a 1-0 lead against the Rangers.

“You have to be ready to go to the dirty areas in front,” Hall said. “Depth is important to be successful in this league. Teams are going to come in and focus on Vinny [Lecavalier] and Marty [St. Louis]. If you can get offense from other places that people aren’t expecting, that takes a lot of pressure off.”

Hall won a shootout contest in practice one day recently, earning a spot in the next tiebreaker they faced. That came the day after Christmas at Florida and coach Rick Tocchet sent him out first. Hall delivered, beating Craig Anderson upstairs.

“You try not to be surprised by anything on the bench,” Hall said. “When they tap you on the shoulder, you know they are putting their faith in you so you want to do everything you can to have success.”

Hall has always been used on the penalty kill. He said anticipation and reading teammates are the keys to getting the job done well.

“He’s going to play seven or he can play 12 minutes,” Tocchet said. “He’s been a really good penalty killer, he’s a good guy in the locker room and a great addition for what his role is here.”

The fit has been a good for Hall as well.

“The guys in the room, the staff, everyone has been incredible,” Hall said. “It’s a team you look forward to working with, coming to the rink every day. I’m looking forward to getting this thing on the right track and winning consistently.”

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