For all the microphones, cameras and notebooks shoved in his face during Tuesday’s massive media scrum you would have sworn that Taylor Hall had just been elected mayor.
If only it was that simple.
No, the post-practice frenzy was much more important than a crushing victory over downtown airport self-interest groups. This was about hockey.
“You have to know coming in that it’s a bit of a fishbowl,” the 18-year-old winger said after the second or third wave of reporters had their fill. “We expect that from our fans; they care a lot about this team, especially the media. We know that when we’re winning things are going to be great and when we’re losing we’ll have things to improve on.
“You have to be ready for anything, especially on this team in a Canadian market, you have to take everything with a grain of salt.”
The fuss on Tuesday? The Oilers have lost two in a rown and Hall, with one assist in four games, might be changing lines. Going from the co-first line with Shawn Horcoff and Jordan Eberle to the third line with Gilbert Brule and Andrew Cogliano.
Eeeeeek! Stop the presses!
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The only thing missing was the fake reporter from Seattle pestering everyone about the losing streak.
“It’s not easy, especially in a Canadian market when you’re first overall,” said teammate Ales Hemsky, who endured a similar micro-analysis in his first season here. “It’s different than being on a US team where you can hide. You can’t hide here.”
There were times when Hemsky wanted to in his frustrating rookie season (six goals, 24 assists and more nights in the press box than he cares to remember).
“Seemed like about 100 games,” he laughed. “The first couple of months I didn’t play much, I played sometimes two minutes a game. It wasn’t easy. You’re thinking ‘What are you doing wrong? What’s going on?’
“It’s still a learning process, you’re 18. It’s not easy to jump from junior. Not a lot of guys can do it right away.”
There were times when Hemsky wondered if he was even good enough to be in the NHL, much less live up to the pressure of being a 13th pick overall.
“Sometimes you think it when you don’t play the game you’re capable of, or when you’re a healthy scratch. But you just have to be positive and being strong. You know you can do it, it’s still hockey, you’ve done it all your life. You know what you’re capable of.”
“I think (Hall) will find his way and he’ll be OK, he’ll be a big part of our team. In the end I think he’s pretty confident, he’s a smart guy, a smart player, he will handle it.”
The interesting part is that in the end it was Hall who wound up giving the media horde advice on how to handle this whole rookie season thing.
“People don’t measure you by how you do in your rookie season, or your first four games,” he said. “They measure you by Stanley Cups and what you do in your prime. Obviously this year is going to be a learning process, I’m going to improve, I’m going to be better, but it’s four games in.
“It’s a long season, there is going to be more line juggling than today. There are going to be a lot more line changes, a lot more losses and a lot more wins to come. It’s a long season, there’s 78 more games to go.”
There’s a lot of circus left, but Hall is ready for it.
“I think the biggest thing is to come to the rink every day and make sure than I’m having fun,” he said. “I love to play this game no matter what anyone is saying out there.”