SUN Hockey Pool

Oilers’ Hall in the family

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

Opening-night tickets are hard to come by, but we’re guessing that Taylor Hall might have some contacts.

Good, because he’s going to need a mitt-full on Thursday. His mom, dad and about 23 other friends and family are here for the first game of his NHL career.

You think you’re excited for this one.

“Living in Calgary for 20 years, we cheered for the Flames all those years, so having Taylor play against a hometown team really is pretty cool,” said his father, Steve. “There’s pretty cool, and there’s REALLY, pretty cool. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”

He’s watched his son play since Day 1 and has little doubt that he’ll be able to reach the potential that made him the first pick overall. But Steve said these things don’t happen in 60 minutes.

“He did say that the other night (against what was close to Calgary’s final lineup) that the speed was like fast forward. By the third period he was getting it. He’s a good player, he’ll get used to it. It’s going to take five or 10 games for people to see what he can bring. He’s still an 18-year-old kid. He’s a good hockey player, but he’s got lots to prove.”

It’s tough to tell who’s more nervous, the 25 in the stands or No. 4 on the ice.

“He’s human, he’s not a robot,” said his father. “This is his life, this is a paid gig now. We’re not in Kansas anymore. We’re not in junior anymore. It’s exciting stuff for him. It’s also a little easier to have them all kind of face it at once. I think they push each other as well. They’re all in it together.”

AYE AYE: Shawn Horcoff seems the lead-pipe cinch to be named captain today, taking over from the departed Ethan Moreau.

“We haven’t really talked about it too much, our main focus is just trying to get everyone together,” said head coach Tom Renney. “Now that the team is settled, all that stuff will take care of itself.”

It’s no secret the Oilers want Hall soaking in as much from Horcoff as possible. That’s why he’s on his line and sitting next to him in the dressing room.

“Preparation, preparing to be a pro,” said Renney, when asked what he wants the veteran to show the rookie. “Even if it’s sitting down to watch a video, the level of concentration that takes, the preparation required before you go into the weight room. How you prepare in practice. And just the opportunity to talk, I think that’s important.”


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