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Oilers' Hall injured during warmups

by Corey Masisak

COLUMBUS -- The Edmonton Oilers were already shorthanded when they arrived in Columbus for a game against the Blue Jackets, but it got worse Tuesday night before the game even started.

Taylor Hall, the lone member of the team's trio of top-line phenoms in the lineup Tuesday, was unable to play after falling to the ice during warmups and then being cut on his forehead by teammate Corey Potter's skate.

"It was definitely terrible. You never want to see a teammate go off the ice like that," Potter said. "I just kind of turned in the corner and saw two guys sliding at me and just tried to get out of the way. Unfortunately I came in contact with [Hall's] head there. ... I didn't really step on him. I was just trying to get out of the way and lift my leg over him. I just kind of kicked him a little bit."

Hall lost an edge and fell to the ice, taking out a teammate, as they headed toward the left corner. Potter tried to clear the two bodies, but ending up connecting with Hall's head.

He was helped to the dressing room by a member of the team's training staff, and reportedly needed more than 30 stitches to close the wound.

"It was a pretty freak accident," Potter said. "It is just a good thing that [Hall] is OK right now. I don't think I've ever seen a cut that bad, that close before. It was pretty deep and long. It was pretty gross."

Edmonton coach Tom Renney said Hall rode a stationary bike after the stitches were applied, and wanted to join his teammates but was not allowed. Playing with only 17 skaters, the Oilers jumped out to a two-goal lead but lost 4-2 to the Blue Jackets.

Hall did not have a helmet on for warmups. It is customary for a handful of players on most NHL teams to not wear a helmet during warmups.

The New York Rangers have a team rule mandating helmets for warmups, and the Oilers may have one soon after this incident as well.

Hall will certainly be wearing one when he plays again. Renney said it was too early to know when that would be.

"He might be wearing a helmet walking down the street," Renney said.

The Oilers were already without the other two-thirds of the top line (Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins) against the Blue Jackets, though it is possible Eberle could return from a knee injury in the next game or two.

Edmonton is also without defensemen Cam Barker, Tom Gilbert and Ryan Whitney. Asked if his rebuilding team was too thin to withstand such an avalanche of injuries, a candid Renney responded, "Pretty much."

"But they're working their guts out," Renney said. "You've got to stay with it. It is amazing what you can do when everybody shoulders in against the odds. We believe in what we're doing here, and the players believe in each other and we'll just keep going. We've got hockey to play and points to take and we're going to go after them.

"That's just the way life is. There is opportunity here. There's opportunity for players to step in for those guys. There's opportunity for our team to galvanize and suck it up and go after wins nonetheless. You can learn an awful lot about yourself and your team under those types of circumstances. These are the cards we're dealt, and we've got to sit at the table and play."

Added Edmonton center Sam Gagner: "Yeah, it is ... I'm at a loss for words when it comes to that. Taylor has been playing so well for us and being a real leader for us. To have something like that happen is just ... it is unbelievable. I don't even know what to say."

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