Oilers fans pumped for Taylor

Oilers' first draft pick Taylor Hall puts on an Oilers' hat during the first round of the 2010 NHL...

Oilers' first draft pick Taylor Hall puts on an Oilers' hat during the first round of the 2010 NHL hockey draft in Los Angeles, Calif. June 25, 2010. (REUTERS/Mike Blake)

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:10 AM ET

There wasn't a boo in the building.

The crowd exploded. Everybody was standing and applauding.

“Taylor Hall! Taylor Hall! Taylor Hall!” they chanted after Oilers G.M. Steve Tambellini made the pick.

The Edmonton Oilers got it right.

They picked the winner.

They picked the player who plays possessed.

They picked the young man with the most heart, character and passion to play the game.

They picked the guy with the most guts to get to the front of the net and put it in when he gets there.

Edmonton fans, or at least the 6,000 who jammed the horseshoe setting in the lower bowl at Rexall Place to create a scene for the nation watching the first ever first pick in the draft by the franchise, were rooting for Taylor Hall all the way.

And so were the Oilers, it seems.

Before the pick was made, the fans were informed that 100 of them would receive pre-crested jerseys

of the first pick and that another 50 of the jerseys would be on sale at the Oilers store when they left the building.

They all had Taylor Hall's name sewn on them.

It is comforting to know that this organization, which has done so much dithering and debating before making decisions, decided well before Steve Tambellini took the trip to the podium to take the two time Memorial Cup champion and back-to-back MVP.

Picking Taylor Hall was a no-brainer.

The best part for the fans in the building, and their reaction illustrated it, was when Hall made

statements aimed at Edmonton.

First during the TSN interview and then in a special hook up to talk to the fans in Edmonton on the video board, Hall told Oilers fans just how much he was hoping he would be picked to play there.

“I wanted to play in Edmonton so bad,” said the player who grew up in Calgary and who missed one

game in his minor hockey career – to come here and watch the Heritage Classic with his father, who briefly was an Edmonton Eskimo.

“I can't wait to get to the city. I just can't wait to get your appreciation,” Hall told the crowd.

“I'm so happy right now I'm shaking,” he told the fans.

Hall went out of his way to try to get that idea across to Edmonton fans when he visited here a couple weeks ago without slighting Boston fans in the process.

But to be on a live hook up and be able to say that to the fans in the building where he's headed to play – and really make them believe it – is not to be understated.

It's what this city, which has gone through the departure of Chris Pronger, the Dany Heatley affair and rejection by free agents, definitely needed to hear.

That was the one thing that was a contrast between Hall and Seguin in their visits to Edmonton. Hall said he wanted to be an Oiler. Seguin said he wanted to be No. 1.

Hall, I believe, will be allowed the wiggle room to grow in Edmonton. If the Oilers had chosen Seguin, I believe there could have been Jason Arnott type impatience with him.

Oilers coach Tom Renney was clearly in synch with the crowd when it came to Hall.

“I'm glad I decided to stay here instead of going to Los Angeles. I made a great choice to be here for this night to experience this with these fans,” said Renney.

“The reason I stayed was I wanted to make the connection and show them how I feel about the passion

for hockey in Edmonton,” said Renney.

They showed him that passion when the Oilers made the pick, a selection which, in combination with some of the other talent on the way, allows the town to have hope about going from dead last back to being a reach-for-the-top team again.

“I am very happy about this,” said Renney.

“He understands 200 feet by 185 feet. He attacks. And the net is his end-point. This kid takes a licking and gets right back up. He's a north-south player. He's the kind of player Edmonton wants. We're better for it. He'll bring a level of intensity to the room and will help us to become a great team sooner than later.”

The fans, when they tired of cheering louder than an entire building full of them did at most moments last season, and were done chanting “Taylor Hall!” took up another chant.

“Let's go Oilers! Let's go Oilers!”

Didn't hear that in Rexall Place much last year.

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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