My Two Halls

This is Taylor Hall, skating in an Oilers alumni game in 2009. No, not that Taylor Hall. And no, not those Oilers. It seems like the closer we get to the draft, the more divided Oil Country becomes over Hall/Seguin. With every beauty goal Taylor scores for the Spitfires at the Memorial Cup, he seems to gain more supporters in the public opinion. And with every big hit he takes, he seems to drive more fans into Seguin’s camp. It’s like Edward/Jacob all over again.

But let’s get back to this other Taylor Hall for a minute. They used to call him “City”. I’ve been reading up on him a bit, and I think he’s got more relevance to this discussion than just the names on the front and back of his jersey. Just like Windsor’s #4, I’m sure that this Taylor Hall, a Regina native, wouldn’t have minded being drafted by the Edmonton Oilers one bit back in 1982. But in the 6th round, 116th overall, Hall was picked up by the Vancouver Canucks. He and Michel Petit would be the only 2 Vancouver draft picks from that year to ever play in the NHL. Petit played over 820 games for 10 different teams in the big show. Hall played 41.

The years after the draft, Hall turned heads playing for his hometown Pats. In his 19-year-old season he finished 4th in WHL scoring with 142 points (2.06 ppg), and scored his first NHL goal during a 4 game call up. Now that was a different time in a different league, but to compare, present-day Taylor Hall tied Seguin with 106 points (1.86 ppg) in the OHL this year. The next year, 84-85, Hall made the Canucks out of camp, and Vancouver looked like it had found its self one hell of a nice young winger. Playing on a line with Peter McNab and Cam Neely, he went 1-4-5 in 7 games. Things were going great, and then that thing happened that every hockey fan who follows their favorite prospects fears. No, not that fear.

Playing in a game against the Islanders, Taylor Hall was knocked hard into a goalpost and blew out his left knee. I don’t know if the injury had a lasting physical impact, or if it was just bad timing on the development curve, but the guy never really recovered. He bounced back and forth between the AHL and the NHL for a few years afterwards, and eventually settled into a spot on the Tulsa Oilers in the brand-new CHL for the 92-93 season. He finished his playing career there, and from what I can tell, he’s has had a reasonably successful career in management and coaching at the minor pro level since then.

So does Taylor City Hall’s story tell us anything about the 2010 draft? Prospects get hurt all the time, and sometimes the consequences are big. It’s not something the team can control, and I'm not sure that I buy that it's something you can predict based on "playing style". If the Magnificent Bastard projects Tyler Seguin to be the better player, we should pick him. If not, we should pick Hall. Enough with all this hand-wringing about potential for injury.  Injuries happen, no matter which Taylor Hall you are.

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