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Stauffer Stuff: January 19

by Bob Stauffer / Edmonton Oilers
Taylor Hall recently suffered a head injury in practice earlier this week.

A full 24 hours after Taylor Hall was accidentally kicked in the head by teammate Corey Potter in a bizarre pile-up in the pre-game skate last night in Columbus has left many of you, I am sure, shaking your head.

So am I, but I am also thankful.

As crazy as it sounds, things could have been much worse.

While the dynamic Hall suffered a nasty laceration to his forehead and may be out of the line-up in the short term, there could have unquestionably been far worse consequences had Potter’s skate sliced an artery, so we should all be thankful for that.

On a personal note, the injury cast a pall on proceedings in Nationwide Arena for myself, and I am sure several others who travel with the Oilers.

Not only is Hall a heck of a player, but he is also a really good person, and when you are dealing with him on a day-to-day basis it is pretty clear he brings an infectious enthusiasm to the Oilers.

Hall is the type of person that can turnaround the fortunes of an organization, he did it in Windsor in Junior and he will be a big part of it in Edmonton as well.

Any suggestion though that Hall is injury-prone is completely dubious. Taylor plays the game with frenetic passion, and as a result there is going to be some collisions along the way.

A look at Taylor Hall's cut -- 30 stitches worth.
What happened Tuesday night in Columbus was a fluke.

Let’s not forget arguably the greatest player in the history of the NHL, Gordie Howe, who played in five different decades, suffered a serious skull fracture back in the 1950 play-offs.

Many thought his career would be over, but he went on to play almost 2000 more games of Pro Hockey between the NHL and WHA.

Back in the late 1940’s in Howe’s first three seasons when he was 18 to 20 he had difficulty playing a full slate of games; playing 58, 60 and 40 games.

Keep that in mind when assessing any young player’s durability.

No question what we saw Tuesday night gave us all a scare, but Hall is a young man, he is resilient and he will be back; albeit likely skating with a helmet in pre-game skates from now on.

‘Jacket and Oilers Injury-Riddled

Injuries are not an excuse but they are a factor, and in the case of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Oilers, injuries have totally derailed their respective seasons.

The Blue Jackets had six key performers out in Tuesday night’s game including their two prize pick-ups in the off-season; first-line center Jeff Carter and power-play quarterback James Wisniewski.

When factoring in injuries to top six forwards Kristian Huselius and R.J. Umberger, along with Mark Letestu and shutdown defenceman Radek Martinek, Columbus has 25 million in players not playing right now.

Huselius, a 4.75M cap hit, has only played two games all season. Martinek, out indefinitely with a concussion, has only dressed for seven games.

Carter and Wisniewski have played 30 and 29 games respectively, and the combination of injuries and goaltending has contributed greatly to Columbus having a dreadful season.

Unfortunately Oilers fans can relate.

After a 9-3-2 start the Oilers lost defenceman Cam Barker to an ankle injury in Boston and as injuries have piled up, so to have the losses with the Oilers going 8-21-2 over their last 31 games.

With Hall being a late scratch, the Oilers had their top three forwards (Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle) and three of their top four defenceman (Tom Gilbert, Ryan Whitney and Barker) out, along with third-line center Eric Belanger.

End result, the Oilers had over 20 million in players out as well against the Blue Jackets.

Again, injuries are not an excuse in the woes of the Oilers and Blue Jackets, but clearly they have been a factor in why the two organizations are sitting 29th and 30th in the NHL.

Bob Stauffer is the Oilers Radio Analyst and Hosts Oilers Now on 630 CHED daily Noon to 2:00 PM

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