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PRINCIPE: Taylor Made

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers

It's another week where Connor McDavid has captured most of the headlines for both good and bad reasons. The week began with a 'Rookie of the Month' honour. 12 points in 12 games in October. A seven-game point scoring streak was a part of it. Life and hockey was great. Then came Tuesday night. I'm not dwelling on it but we all know what happened. Terrible. Just a really disappointing moment for Connor, his family,  the team, the fans and the league. Surgery went well and everyone looks forward to a speedy but safe recovery for the 18 year old. That brings me to another first-overall pick.

I have to admit I felt like I had not spent nearly enough time talking to Taylor Hall this season. I have been focusing on the latest first-overall selection. Rightfully so in many ways but 2010 wasn't that long ago. I remember leading up to the draft in LA and doing a 'What do you know about Edmonton?' segment with Hall. I figured if he was coming to Edmonton let's see what he knew about the city. He aced the exam. Taylor knew how many Cups the Oilers had won, who was their highest-ever pick (Jason Bonsignore 4th in 1994), what the city's nickname is/was 'City of Champions' and a few other Alberta capital related questions. Not exactly a university entrance exam but just a few questions to learn a little more about him.

Since then we have learned a lot about the kid from Kingston and Calgary. Like he can put up points, as he did when Taylor was a top-ten scorer for two straight seasons. Last year wasn't a good one for a variety of reasons but Hall has attacked this season like a first meal after a shipwrecked man is rescued. He has been all over it and it's especially been the case in the last two weeks. He has been on fire like I haven't see before. If you don't believe me just check out the NHL scoring leaders as of Thursday morning. Only three players had more points than Hall. He was tied for fourth in NHL scoring.

It is quite a spot to be in for the winger because if you rewind the calendar to that 2010 draft that's about what was expected from him. A lot to live up to but nothing new for the soon-to-be 24 year old. He likes challenges. Say he can't do it and he'll prove you wrong. On Tuesday night, with the air let out of the building after what happened to Connor, it was Taylor who came thru with the game-winning goal. Big players stepping up in big moments. That was one of them. It gave people at home or in the building a reason, albeit a small one, to smile at the comeback on a difficult night for the organization.

Along with what he's doing on the ice he's also doing his best off the ice, prior to Tuesday, at making life in season one for Connor McDavid as normal as can be. Taylor Hall added landlord to his job title when he offered the 18 year old a place to stay. A sign of growth as a person to go along with what we've seen of Taylor Hall as a player.
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