Thursday, June 30, 2016

Grieving about Taylor Hall

 #Oilers #OilersNation
As we lament on the loss of this gem of a player, work with me as we go through the stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.  I went through stages 1 to 4 yesterday.  Today is 5.

After getting the 1st Star, Taylor Hall throws pucks over the boards for endearing fans.  My photo.

1. Denial
I was in a meeting when a good friend texted me the news. I couldn't believe it. I went to my computer and it was confirmed. Everyone in the office was in shock. Then Subban for Weber and the two Habs fans in the office joined us in the denial. This morning, everyone woke up and wondered if it was a bad dream.

2. Anger
The anger was apparent in the media's questions to Chiarelli and even he seemed irritated. My usually cheery wife was upset all evening and she asked me if it was real.  I was pissed because of all the years of bad scouting and drafting, this was a sacrifice.

3. Bargaining
I started wondering if there was a three way deal in place that we'd get Subban from Nashville for Larsson and Yakupov or something.  A friend of mine told me that when he was at a local pizza joint, Chiarelli himself asked him what he should do and my friend said a three way deal is the only way it could happen. So, I started believing that.  Then I heard Larsson was on Stauffer's show and the three-way belief ended.

Then we all started looking at Larsson's stats to find a silver lining beyond what Chiarelli was selling us. Not a single pundit and blogger I've read thinks this was a good deal for the Oilers.  We are being sold on selling a proven player for potential.  Not that Larsson is a bad player--he's not.  He's a good, solid, young defender with a huge upside. He'll play top minutes with fellow Swede, Oscar Klefbom (if he's fully healthy).

4. Depression
As some of you know, at the Oilers Signature Event, I had Taylor sign my Gretzky/Messier-signed Titan hockey stick.

Those were my last words to him: "You deserve it."  Now my wife thinks the stick is cursed because all those players got traded after it was signed, and my friends said they'll shoot me if I try to get McDavid to sign it too.

Reading Connor McDavid's comments about how Taylor mentored him and took him under his wing really hit home--it was as if #4 died in an accident or something.

“I want to express thanks for all that he’s done for me because he’s done so much. I’ll never really know how I can repay him, or if I’ll ever be able to, for what he’s done for me this year.

“He’s a guy who took me under his wing right away. It’s hard to explain how much that means to me.”

We were nearly in tears, I shit you not. As we turned in for the evening, our hearts were heavy.  The Hall jersey that I bought my wife which she had signed by him laid on our bed before we hung it up in our window as a memorial to him. I then read Taylor's twitter post about how he cherished being in Edmonton.  

"Thank you to the city of Edmonton, the fans, and most of all, my teammates throughout my time with the Oilers. I will always cherish my time there and the memories that came with it."

And my reply:  "Because of you, my wife became a big fan and enjoyed coming to Oilers games with me. I can't thank you enough for it. #Hall4Ever"

Hall worked hard every game. He trained to his maximum and was in superb shape.  He was the face of the team for 5 years.  I feel bad for him, but he appears to be excited to play for the Devils.

I was hoping to see three scoring lines led by Hall, McDavid, and Nugent-Hopkins--like the Blackhawks and Penguins have.

I went to bed then had nightmares that he got traded like some bad groundhog day.

5. Acceptance
When Hall was drafted at #1, I said to my friends that the Oilers were going to be a totally different team. (I don't think I knew as much about hockey as I sort of do now.)  Well, they really weren't. Maybe more exciting because Hall is a risk-taker but a damn exciting player.  With pushing young players to play against stronger veterans, Hall saw many injuries (enough to have a whole separate blog post about it.)

Now, I'm telling myself these things to accept the fact he's not an Oiler anymore:

  • When Hall was put on a line with McDavid, the chemistry wasn't there. How is this possible? 
  • Eberle thinks he's a bit of a puck-hog.  Well, he does shoot more than anyone in the league
  • Hall is only as good as his centre is.  When Draisaitl's play dropped off in the new year, so did Hall's game.
  • He wasn't selected to be on Team Canada
  • He was born in Calgary
  • He has an attitude problem.  (I actually think he's simply a hard competitor)
  • He was a cancer in the locker room (although McDavid doesn't think so)
  • He's #4 and so was Kevin Lowe
  • Oilers needed a top-4 right-shot defenseman and this IS the price to pay to get one (although adding a 2017 2nd round draft pick would have been nice)
  • Larsson will work out.  Larsson will work out and be a stud d-man. It took a while for Hedman and others to develop into top defensemen and Chiarelli is confident that Larsson will work out.  Larsson will work out.

Goodbye, Taylor.  Thank YOU for the multitude of memories and excitement on the ice.

My wife's Taylor Hall signed jersey

Taylor Hall Statistics 

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