SUN Hockey Pool

Hall plenty of cheer for Oilers

TERRY JONES, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:34 AM ET

When you have Taylor Hall, do you really need cheerleaders?

He’s got better legs than any of them.

And talk about sizzle!

Maybe the Edmonton Oilers, the only Canadian team which has refused to have a mascot, decided they needed cheerleaders to add entertainment in lieu of wins while they continue to collect draft choices.

But off Wednesday night’s game, Hall provided more entertainment in one period than the new cheerleading team is likely to provide the rest of the season.

Tuesday night’s game should have shown Hall that collecting more high draft picks here is more important than making the playoffs right now.

Hall was outstanding, as he had four glorious scoring opportunities including a couple of breakaways in the first period. He ended up with eight shots on goal.

But it was a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs which illustrated how wanting this team still is in so many areas, including players’ willingness to go to the tough areas of the ice, play with passion, battle, use some intelligence and not take their talented teammates off the ice and out of the game with a string of penalties.

Hall had those qualities in abundance last night. And he was nowhere near enough for the Oilers to be able to handle a team that is in the same spot in the standings from a much weaker Eastern Conference.

“Taylor just goes out and plays and plays hard with a veteran look to him. He has an absolute passion to play,” said coach Tom Renney.

He said he didn’t know if Hall was motivated because of the mild quote people tried to turn into a dressing room bulletin board item when he suggested this game was “there for the taking.”

Renney said Hall has been at this level for a while now.

“He’s been playing like this. That’s how this kid plays and … uh … good pick!” he said of the player the Oilers chose No. 1 in the draft.

“I certainly didn’t mean it,” said Hall of the quote. “I tried to come out and play a good game. But I ended up minus one, I think, and it was a pretty frustrating night.

“I had a lot of opportunities,” he said of the first period.

“Sam (Gagner) gave me some great passes to get those two breakaways.”

Asked about spending significant part of the second period on bench due to four power plays, Hall said: “That’s just hockey.”

Renney went in a different direction.

“We took ourselves out of it in the second period with bad penalties and a power play that looked like a minor-hockey power play. And maybe not that,” he said.

“We were off our game in the second period because people who were generating plays for us were on the bench,” said Renney of five second-period penalties.

It would be hard to say the cheerleaders were minor hockey cheerleaders because it’s hard to find a set of those. But it was much ado about not much.

The idea of the first cheerleaders working an NHL game in Canada was considered a big story from coast to coast Tuesday. But at the arena it was so underwhelming you wondered how any percentage of the populace could possibly get worked about about the, uh, sacrilege of a Canadian team having cheerleaders in hockey.

And it was such a fun start to the game who needed cheerleaders?

There was no sight of them until the end of the first period when they were finally introduced individually, wearing outfits which resembled Oilers home jerseys turned into short (but not very short) dresses with white boots. When the introductions were over with polite applause, the P.A. announcer was just as enthusiastic about announcing the appearance of a Ford car on the ice to follow them.

It wasn’t until well into the second period that the cheerleaders actually did anything, each of them taking an entrance in the upper deck and dancing at a break.

There were no boos. But the crowd didn’t go wild.

There was certainly no story one way or the other.

But Taylor Hall is going to be a story more nights than not around here.

Follow me on Twitter.com/sunterryjones

terry.jones@sunmedia.ca


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