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Lovin' L.A.

by Mike Benton / Edmonton Oilers
Tyler Seguin, Taylor Hall and Emersen Etem take in batting practice at Angels Stadium in Anaheim Thursday afternoon.

The ever-growing Taylor Hall versus Tyler Seguin rivalry has taken on a whole new level.

Now, baseball is involved.

Meeting on the Angels Stadium field, Wednesday night for a friendly bout of pregame batting practice before the crosstown rivalry of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Angels got underway in Anaheim, the two picked up the lumber with fellow prospects Brett Connolly, Emerson Etem and Cam Fowler as Hall set down a friendly wager.

Hall’s challenge? A pool of fifty dollars to Connolly for anyone’s home run that nailed the rock quarry display beyond the outfield fences.

Hall, who nearly cleared the fences with a 350-foot blast off the wall, could only draw a devilish smile when he was asked about a tease in the direction of Seguin, who managed a hit out of the infield

“Tyler wasn’t very good,” joked Hall. “He’s definitely not as good at baseball as he is at hockey. It was certainly a lot of fun for all of us. I really wish I played baseball as a younger kid because it was so fun out there.”

Whether it is the dynamic, powerful offensive presence of Hall or the slick, puck distribution of Seguin that becomes Oilers property when the 2010 NHL Entry Draft gets underway Friday afternoon in Los Angeles, the two have taken over Hollywood by storm in the last days before their names are called at the podium of Staples Center.

In some sense, it’s a vacation for Hall from the usual spectrum of lights, camera and action he and Seguin have faced with national media attention since the two entered the spotlight as the possible first overall draft pick.

“We’re kids but we all have pressure on us and a lot of scrutiny,” said Hall, who faced dozens of national and local reporters on a hot, Thursday afternoon on a hotel balcony overlooking the entire Los Angeles landscape. “It’s been nice to get away from it for a little bit.”

Seguin beamed at the question if he had been nervous to face the attention of the week’s events in Los Angeles.

“I’m having fun with this,” said Seguin. “People ask if there’s pressure, nerves or jitters – but I look at this as opportunity. I’m having fun with it. It’s one step closer to my dream. Whatever happens, happens.”

The fun for both started Wednesday at the Hollywood Wax museum, one of the many avenues of celebrity enshrinement in Southern California, drew the presence of Seguin and Hall on Wednesday morning.

Seguin came out of the experience with a picturesque moment, even if it was with a life size statue version.

People ask if there’s pressure, nerves or jitters – but I look at this as opportunity. I’m having fun with it. - Tyler Seguin

“I got to have my picture with Jessica Alba,” said Seguin. “It will probably be the closest I will ever get to her. But it’s a big step forward.”

Hall, Seguin and the rest were back to work on Thursday morning in spreading the hockey gospel across the United States’ sunbelt region with a Thursday morning practice session in neighboring El Segundo, the practice facility home of the Los Angeles Kings.

Taking the ice in a skate with 30 youth hockey hopefuls, many who were half the ages of Hall and Seguin, provided a fresh perspective for both of the primed forwards, who had been there before and will most certainly face fresh opportunities to lead hockey youngsters as the two mature in their potential NHL careers.

“We got a chance to give back to the community, who has been so good to us,” said Seguin, who also joined hockey pioneer Willie O’Ree and Kings television and radio broadcasters Jim Fox and Daryl Evans in participating in the event.

No journey through Tinsel Town would be complete though with a clash involving the silver screen. As the NHL Entry Draft events continued the motor up in downtown Los Angeles, thousands of adoring fans were also in line at the adjacent Nokia Plaza on Thursday to catch the action of the premiere of the much anticipated “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” film, which featured a live appearance with stars Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner.

The stars of the draft, Hall and Seguin would join the cast and his draft mates for a parade on the red carpet for the premiere, dressed to the nines. Preparing to face the entertainment world’s lights and cameras, Hall yet admitted there was a boundary for how far he and his draft mates fit in.

“We’re going to be walking around the red carpet and with us being five gangly Canadian kids, they aren’t going to know who we are,” said Hall.

“I’m sure the movie will be fun and there will be some cute chicks.”

We’re going to be walking around the red carpet and with us being five gangly Canadian kids, they aren’t going to know who we are. - Taylor Hall, on attending the Twilight: Eclipse premiere

Seguin admitted he’ll just be stargazing at the premiere for the mental scrapbook as much as anybody.

“I’m just trying to see some celebrities,” said Seguin.

One thing’s for sure – as Hall and Seguin prepare to enter a new phase of life and don a jersey on the draft stage that officially ushers them into hockey stardom and the daily NHL microscope, they can agree that the process of summer unwinding will come after this weekend.

After all, how much sleep has Seguin got since his arrival to prepare for his biggest hockey moment?

“Not much.”
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