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Hall says he's 'all in' with Devils coaching change

Possible free agent, trade target hopeful Nasreddine can turn season around

by Dan Rosen / Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Nothing has changed regarding Taylor Hall's short-term and potential yet tenuous long-term future with the New Jersey Devils after they fired coach John Hynes on Tuesday.

Hall, reiterating that he's leaving it for his agent and general manager Ray Shero to comment on any trade talk or contract negotiations that might be ongoing, used the words "all in" to describe how he feels about the opportunity to now be coached by Alain Nasreddine.

If anything, it's an indication that Hall isn't letting his cloudy future with the Devils impact what he wants to and believes he can do to help them pull out of a season-long slump, which continued with a 4-3 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights at Prudential Center on Tuesday, one day after they lost 7-1 at the Buffalo Sabres in what wound up as Hynes' last game.

"Riding on the bus after the game [Monday] night, that was pretty low," Hall said. "A 7-1 loss, I've got four goals [on the season], our team is obviously struggling, that's a low point. But you try to pick yourself up and get back to where you want to be. Today is a new start, it's a new opportunity for our team and for me. I mean, I've gotten some points and stuff like that, but hopefully I can play a little bit better game by game and then get some bounces on my side and see where it goes."

It may not matter where it goes because the Devils could decide to trade Hall, the NHL MVP two seasons ago who is in the final year of a six-year contract, before the NHL Trade Deadline on Feb. 24.

That seemed to be the furthest thing from Hall's mind Tuesday. He said he was shocked the Devils made a coaching change, but said he got a cryptic text from a friend of his, someone he called a former player, on his way to Prudential Center and then heard the official news when he arrived (The Devils didn't announce it publicly until shortly after 4 p.m. local time.)

"I haven't exactly been prowling social media lately so I had no idea until I showed up at the rink and found out," Hall said. "It's kind of hard to gather my thoughts after a game and everything that's happened, but John has done a lot for me personally in my career. Basically, all I really have to say is that, and you'll see him in the NHL head coaching at some point soon."

Hall, in his fourth season with New Jersey, wouldn't say if he felt a coaching change was needed, but it was clear to him why it happened: The Devils (9-14-4) are 30th in the NHL, five points ahead of the last-place Detroit Red Wings. 

Hall is New Jersey's leading scorer with 22 points (four goals, 18 assists). Four teams have a leading scorer with fewer points (Anaheim Ducks, Arizona Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Ottawa Senators).

"We didn't play well enough as a team and we have a different head coach because of that," Hall said. "There's not one guy in here that's having a great year, having a year that they can look back in 10 years and say, 'Man, I played great that year.' As players we need to find that. We need to find a level that we all haven't shown this year. If [Alain] is the guy that can bring us to do that, then so be it."

Hall will be a resource for Nasreddine, who said his plan will be to lean on the alternate captain, to be in constant communication with him even though he doesn't know how long he'll be coaching him.

"We go day by day," Nasreddine said. "We don't know what's going to happen. He might sign with us tomorrow. We don't know."

Hall appears to be operating the same way, which is why he's eager to get to know Nasreddine and his coaching style. Nasreddine was coaching the Devils defensemen and their penalty kill, of which Hall isn't part of, so they haven't worked together a lot.

"My interactions with him have been very cordial, eat a meal together in the room, say 'What's up' if we're walking off the bus together, but as far as him coaching me, I haven't had that," Hall said. "I'm interested to see how that is. I know from just how he's coached our D and how he is as a guy, I'm very excited to see what maybe adjustments he wants me to make as a player. I'm all in. There's no other way to go about it."

Shero is eager to see what can happen now.

"[Taylor's] expecting better in terms of our performance as a team and for himself," the GM said.

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