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Taylor Hall returns to Edmonton with Devils

Forward says game against Oilers in new arena 'is going to be fun'

by Derek Van Diest / Correspondent

EDMONTON -- New Jersey Devils forward Taylor Hall admits that playing the Edmonton Oilers at Rogers Place on Thursday will be easier than if he was returning to Rexall Place.

Hall practiced in the downtown arena for the first time Wednesday in his first visit here since he was traded to New Jersey for defenseman Adam Larsson on June 29.

"It's a beautiful building, but I don't have any relationship to it or anything like that," Hall said. "It's fun to come and see how spectacular it is, and the city of Edmonton deserves this. It's fun to be here and see what it's like, but I never played here, so I can't really say [what it's like]."

Hall, 25, played six seasons with the Oilers after being selected No. 1 in the 2010 NHL Draft. In 381 games with Edmonton, Hall had 132 goals and 328 points.

The trade surprised Hall, who wanted to help Edmonton reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006. The Oilers played at Rexall Place since 1974, back to their days in the World Hockey Association (Edmonton joined the NHL in 1979).

"It is what it is. I don't know if the building has anything to really do with it; I was a hockey player and I play on a 200 by 85 sheet," Hall said. "The disappointing thing for me is that I wasn't able to be part of the team there that I had been part of for so long. I played a lot of games and I thought I played hard. That was more the hard part; it's not really coming back to the rink or anything like that. At the moment when I got traded, that's what was disappointing."

The Devils (16-18-8) have lost three in a row entering the game Thursday (9 p.m. ET; SNW, MSG+, NHL.TV). Hall, who was named to the 2017 Honda NHL All-Star Game on Tuesday, has nine goals and 16 assists (25 points) in 32 games.

"Tomorrow night is going to be fun," Hall said. "Not only is it going to be fun to play an exciting team and to be in this building for the first time, but we're struggling in our room right now, we need some wins, we're struggling to get wins. That's my main goal, and hopefully the other stuff turns our really well. It can be a fun night for sure."

Video: NJD@MTL: Hall buries Henrique's slick no-look pass

Hall played against the Oilers for the first time in New Jersey on Saturday, which he said made this trip easier. New Jersey lost 2-1 in overtime at Prudential Center, and Hall did not have a point.

"I'm glad that I got the first game out of the way in New Jersey," Hall said. "That was really weird, even though it was in my home rink, just having to play those guys that I played with so long. That makes it a lot easier coming back, and seeing even all the media and seeing the city is different, but I'm getting over it as the day goes on."

Hall was a fan favorite in Edmonton, and the Oilers are expected to put together a video tribute welcoming him back, as they do for most prominent players returning for the first time.

"That's not really on my mind too much," Hall said. "I'm sure it'll be nice, I'm sure the Oilers TV team will do a good job on something like that. I'm more looking forward to the game and trying to play well. It was a really weird game in New Jersey to play and it took me a whole period to get into it and just play hockey, so I want that part to go away as quickly as possible."

Any anger Oilers fans may have had about the trade likely has been eased because Edmonton (21-15-7) is a much improved team and in playoff position, third in the Pacific Division.

Hall said he isn't certain of the reception he will get.

"I don't know, it's one of those things you just have to experience it," Hall said. "I think that I'll get a good applause coming back here. In the past when guys have come back and played, they've always been gracious to them. I don't think that will be any different, that's the kind of fan base and fans and people that are here in Edmonton."

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