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PRINCIPE: Two for Taylor

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club

The last couple of games have been very frustrating for Taylor Hall. He didn't shoot, he didn't score, he didn't get hurt. In fact, he didn't do anything because he didn't play. Taylor Hall sat and watched the win against Phoenix and the loss against Chicago. It wasn't coach's decision but Brendan Shanahan's decision. The NHL's VP of Player Safety decided Taylor was a bad boy and had to pay the price for his thunderous hit on Minnesota's Cal Clutterbuck. He didn't like the Shanahanigans by Hall.

Now I'm not an expert on what is or isn't a suspension. Yes, some are obvious and easy to decide on. The amount of games is always a little trickier to determine. In Taylor's mid-ice collision with Cal I know there was knee-hip-knee-torso-thigh contact between the two. Not exactly sure what happened first but at some point all of the above met each other for a split second. It was a bone-crunching, helmet-rattling, jaw-dropping blast of power and speed on display by Hall. I don't say that because it was Clutterbuck or because I want to see anyone hurt. On the contrary, this has nothing to do with the hittee but everything to do with the hitter.

In my mind that was Taylor Hall's way of saying "I'm tired of this B.S. and I'm not going to take it anymore". It's been a tough couple seasons for Hall when it comes to freak injuries and taking big hits. The one by Cory Sarich with the Calgary Flames last season the biggest of all. He suffered a concussion on the play and it's been his play that's been called reckless and dangerous. If those characterizations are true, that style has been damaging to Hall and no one else. That is until last Thursday night when he blew up Clutterbuck. I saw a side of Taylor Hall that I have yet to see. A mean, cold, calculating side that could do some serious damage if he wants.

Before Taylor's dad (Steve) and mom (Kim) get upset by the previous statement let me clarify that Hall is a real nice kid growing into a nice young man. He's polite and cordial and very personable. However, he need not be that way on the ice. I think Taylor was developing a reputation for himself. One where opponents figured sooner or later he might put himself in a spot to be hurt. Well now it's Taylor that can put the hurt on them. He moves like a missile, with single digit body fat and can punish players. That was a league-wide eye-opening hit. I think everyone ready to prey on Hall might realize he just might be doing the same thing if he feels it's necessary.

Now the Oilers still want Taylor Hall to do what made him the top player selected in the 2010 draft. However, I think Hall showed a side that can only help him gain a little more respect and space. You come at me, don't be surprised if I come back at you. His intention may have been to just deliver a hit but I believe Taylor Hall delivered a message. While getting suspended cost him a few Clutter-bucks I think it was money well spent.

Gene Principe is the host of Oilers games on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet Oilers.
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