Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club
The one constant from the first game of the 2010 season into the final few games of 2016 has been two players; Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. From that opening game vs. Calgary to the last game against the Flames at Rexall Place on Saturday night, they are the two Oilers that have carried over from one season to another, to another and so on and so on. They haven't always been in the lineup, but they have been on the roster. From teammates, to linemates, to roommates they have been as close as any pair of current Edmonton Oilers.
What I didn't know about the two is they like to bet against each other on almost anything and everything. The topic came up when talking about the fact #4 and #14 have the same number of goals. I wondered if they had any little friendly wager on who will finish with the most goals this year. As it turns out, there's nothing on the line for top goal-scorer. However, that's about the only thing these close friends don't turn into a competition.
They have side bets on shootout goals in practice, on the soccer they play before a game. First one out owes the other. They like to play cards and the highest score wins. The dollar amount is very small, considering their sizeable salaries. In fact, Hall said at this point in the season, considering all the bets they've made, he's up $300. That's it. I think I owe some of my friends more than these two Oilers owe each other. We're not talking thousands, as that's not the reason they do this.
You often hear athletes say they want to win at everything. Chess, checkers, scrabble. If they are playing a game, they are doing so to be victorious. That's how these two approach it. It puts just a little extra pressure on that shot, or that kick or that card you're waiting for to make your hand. I think they both know a thing or two about playing under pressure. The betting is something they started doing this season. The tab has been whittled down to an amount that even a college student could cover. Again, the point isn't the money. It’s the friendly competition. It's — how would say it? — the way they are wired. It's just a part of their DNA.
There's no doubt they get along. Well enough that from the moment they entered the NHL they lived in the same condo, building or house until they bought separate homes. I mean, they were meant to be close. Maybe not as close as their point totals from their final seasons in junior — both had 106 — but they've always got along. Jordan owed Taylor some rent money, but Hall knew Eberle was good for it. Plus, he knew where he lived.
They were the first new faces of the franchise, who over the years have been joined by others. Along the way they stayed close. Through personal or team slumps, through injuries and just about anything else, their friendship has not been broken. Yet, Hall says they aren't 'best friends.’ For both, that is something that would reside with childhood buddies. However, Hall says when Eberle gets married he'll be in Jordan's wedding party. From everything I've seen and heard from the two, I think that's something you can bet on.