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'Humble and hungry' | Kevyn Adams details the Taylor Hall signing

The 2018 Hart Trophy winner signed a 1-year deal Sunday

by Jourdon LaBarber @jourdonlabarber /

When the clock struck noon and free agency opened last Friday, Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams made an immediate phone call to agent Darren Ferris. His message: The Sabres were interested in bringing Taylor Hall to Buffalo. 

It quickly became clear that the interest was mutual. Hall made the move official Sunday, signing a one-year contract worth $8 million. 

"I made it very clear in the beginning to Darren Ferris and their group that we want players who want to be here," Adams said. "We want players that are humble and hungry and want to win and want to be a part of something special. And if that didn't fit, then we wouldn't keep going down the road and have conversations.

"But it became very clear quickly that there was interest. Taylor had an interest in being here and being part of something special. And here's where we got to, so it's exciting." 

The roots of Hall's signing can be traced back to before Adams phoned Ferris, when the general manager and his staff were assessing their roster and planning for free agency. Adams described it as a team effort, beginning with support from Sabres owners Kim and Terry Pegula. 

Adams was also able to lean on coach Ralph Krueger, who built a relationship with Hall during their three seasons together in Edmonton, the last of which Krueger spent as head coach. Krueger was able to testify to Hall's character and how it would mesh in the Buffalo dressing room. 

The Pegulas and Krueger were both involved in conversations with Hall in the days leading to the forward's decision. Krueger also spoke one-on-one with Hall, Adams said. Adams felt the common theme during those talks was that Hall was at a point in his career where success was a priority. 

Video: Sabres GM Kevyn Adams on signing Taylor Hall

"I believe, obviously by him signing, that he thought that can happen here," Adams said. "He obviously studied our roster, we talked about that. We had in-depth conversations with him about philosophically as an organization what we're looking to do. We know we haven't been good enough. We have to go earn it. This is a position we're in right now. 

"We have to go and get better every day and work to become the team that all of us want to become. So, we wanted him part of that as a piece of the puzzle, and he did as well. I certainly think when he looked at our roster he felt comfortable with how he could fit in and what it would mean for him as well as the picture of the team." 
Hall's on-ice resume needs little introduction. The winger was the No. 1 overall pick in 2010 and won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player in 2018, when he tallied career highs with 39 goals and 93 points and guided New Jersey to the playoffs. He has been one of the game's most prolific scorers since the moment he stepped onto NHL ice, ranking 23rd with 563 points since his 2010 debut. 

Tweet from @BuffaloSabres: Let's get this guy in some royal blue 👊@hallsy09 | #LetsGoBuffalo

Hall joins a roster that previously added the player who occupies the 19th spot on that same list in center Eric Staal. Buffalo also recently signed forwards Tobias Rieder and Cody Eakin, players Adams feels fit the mold for his and Krueger's vision of Sabres hockey. 

Of course, any conversation about the Sabres roster includes captain Jack Eichel, a factor Adams acknowledged likely influenced Hall's decision. 

"It definitely played a role," Adams said. "I think we see this as a really good fit. We are very fortunate here in Buffalo to have one of the elite centers in the game and we feel that we're adding one of the elite wingers in the game. So, we're excited about the potential of that."

While the one-year nature of the contract worked for both sides, Adams said both the team and Hall have expressed interest in making it a long-term relationship.  

"I think from our standpoint, we were open to different scenarios," he said. "We're looking to make sure that we do things responsibly in how we put our roster together, but just because it's one year doesn't give any indication that we only wanted one year. 

"We believe in Taylor as a player and a person, and we hope this turns into a long-term relationship for both sides that works. So, we'll see where that goes, but we've made that clear to them and they made that clear to us as well."

For now, Adams was adamant that the move - while exciting for the team and fans alike - is only a step in the right direction. Plenty more remain for the team to get to where it wants to be. 

"We got to a place on both sides that there was a comfort level and we all wanted the same thing, which is to put ourselves in a position to compete for a Stanley Cup and that's what we're excited to try to work towards," Adams said. 

"We know this is a lot of work and it's a lot of work in front of us. I think all of us, kind of in that mentality, we're hungry and humble and we just want to get better, period."

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