|Oilers forward Taylor Hall winces as he gets up off the ice following a fight with Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett at Rexall Place in Edmonton on March 3, 2011. (DAN RIEDLHUBER/Reuters)
DENVER — Steve Tambellini had his money on Taylor Hall to win the Calder.
Watching the Edmonton Oilers thoroughbred pick up speed in the last month, the team's GM thought it was only a matter of time before Hall tracked down and passed the rest of the field.
It won't happen now. Hall is done for the year with an ankle injury and so are his rookie-of-the-year hopes.
"It's unfortunate because Taylor was starting to take over hockey games at times," said Tambellini after an MRI confirmed a high ankle sprain. "All the other young players around the league, as good as they are, they weren't taking over games.
"He's been incredible. I believe that at the end of the season he would have caught the rest of the rookies in points and he would have been the leading contender for the Calder Trophy."
That Hall is done for the year isn't a terribly big surprise; with less than six weeks left in the season, almost any injury is season ending. Still, this one hurts on a lot of levels.
Hall misses the Calder and 17 games of development. The team and the fans miss Hall. And it didn't have to happen.
"I know he's disappointed and it's tough," said Tambellini, who's totally OK with their No.1 draft pick starting a fight with Derek Dorsett. "But you'd rather have Taylor Hall competing hard. That's what makes him Taylor Hall. You get the skill, but you also get the determination and hunger. I think that's what separates him from everybody else, that competitiveness."
As for fighting in the future, nothing needs to be said that isn't already understood. Hall is too valuable an asset to be risking his hands, head or legs in a scrap, but he's also a hockey player, and occasionally in the heat of battle, even the best ones drop the gloves.
"You can't control the emotion of a hockey game," said Tambellini. "The emotion that he plays with is what you love about him. We don't want him fighting but I understand sometimes it's going to happen."
PLANTE RECALLED: The Oilers were moving bodies all over the place on Friday, sending defenceman Richard Petiot and goaltender Martin Gerber back to Oklahoma City to make room for Alex Plante, recalled from the Barons, and Nikolai Khabibulin, who's recovered from the eye injury that cost him a week on IR.
It's the first look at Plante since a four-game cup of coffee last year. The first round pick (15th oerall) in 2007 NHL Entry Draft is checking in at six-foot-three, 225 pounds these days and has one goal and 10 assists as well as 112 penalty minutes in 57 games this season with the Barons.
In 106 career AHL games with the Barons and Springfield Falcons, Plante has 20 points (3G,17A) and 234 penalty minutes.
With zero spare forwards, the Oilers will call up another body in a day or so.