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Principe's Blog: Living the Dream

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall & Jordan Eberle, teammates on the ice, have chosen to keep to remain close off it as well.

If I had a dollar for everytime I heard a player say "it's a dream come true" when they make it to the NHL I might not be writing this blog and if I was I might be doing it from a beach in the Bahamas. It's an expected response from a player whose lived his life hoping one day to play in the world's best hockey league.

Once they get to the NHL then they have to find a place to live so they can continue to 'live the dream'. In the case of Edmonton's big three rookies it's on their own. Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Magnus Paajarvi have all bucked the trend of highly drafted rookies moving in with a family. It's nothing new for a young player to live with an older teammate's family.

The #1 pick in the 2009 draft John Tavares did it last season as he had the guest room at Doug Weight's place. In Colorado Matt Duchene, the third overall pick in 09, spent the season at Adam Foote's residence and he's doing the same thing this year. While Ryan O'Reilly, Colorado's other 18 year old last season, spent the season hanging out with Darcy Tucker's clan.

They may be the most recent but certainly not the most famous. That honor has to go to Sidney Crosby who didn't shack up with a teammate but instead the owner. He lived with Mario Lemieux's family  from the time he was drafted first in 2005. He stayed until this season when the Sid the Kid figured it might be time to branch out on his own.

In Edmonton's case there were candidates to possibly play the role of surrogate family. Shawn Horcoff comes to mind, with his wife Cindy, two young kids and a stable home environment, it could have been a good place to call yours for a season or two if you're Hall or Eberle. Linemates could have also been housemates...Jason Strudwick is a leader. He and his wife Schoena would have certainly provided a comfortable living arrangement for one of the three kids...if they needed it but I guess they didn't.

Instead Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle have decided to be roommates in their first NHL seasons. It's an extension of the fact they were roommates from the start of rookie camp until they both made the team. The two really do seem like two peas in a pod. They have had similar upbringings of being star players for their minor hockey teams, to their junior teams, to Canada's world junior clubs. It seemed a natural that the two of them would be a fit.

Magnus Paajarvi has chosen to live alone in his rookie season.
What might be more interesting is that Magnus Paajarvi is out on his own. That can be daunting task for any 19 year old but especially when you're doing it for a first time in a different country. However Paajarvi isn't your normal 19 year old. He's mature beyond his teenage years.

If there was an older Swedish player on the team the Oilers would have done what the Senators did last season. In order to help Erik Karlsson adjust to the North American lifestyle he lived with Daniel Alfredsson. With that option unavailable in Edmonton Paajarvi is doing it alone. Not a huge stretch for a kid who moved out at 16 to play in the Swedish Elite League.

The new kids on the block are doing what the first kids on the NHL block did in Edmonton. Kevin Lowe lived with Wayne Gretzky. A year later Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri became roommates. As Lowe explained after living with billets through junior you didn't necessarily want to do that in the NHL. It's early on in the 'living the dream' stage for Hall, Eberle and Paajarvi but now all three have a place they can call 'Home Sweet Home'.
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