For months, Oilers’ head coach Tom Renney has been fielding questions about Taylor Hall and the reckless abandon he plays with.
As effective as it’s been for the former first overall pick, it seemed only a matter of time before he was knocked out of the lineup.
It was as inevitable as squatters posing as protesters eventually being forcibly removed from a private park.
Prior to it happening Saturday in Denver, Renney was asked time and time again if there was any way to rein in the talented sophomore and get him to take a more cautious approach on the ice.
The subject came up when Hall went crashing headfirst into the net in a blowout-victory over the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 20, prior to departing on a four-game road trip.
It’ll come up again Monday before the Oilers take to the ice against the Nashville Predators after Hall injured his shoulder in Colorado Saturday. He’ll undergo an MRI to determine the extent of the damage and the length of time he’ll be out.
“If I held my breath every time Taylor Hall went flying into the net, I’d have brain problems,” said Renney, after the victory over the Blackhawks. “He’s relentless and he’s a reckless type of player and those are hard people to defend. As long as he keeps missing those posts, then I’m OK with that.”
Unfortunately for the Oilers, it wasn’t a post that eventually took out Hall, but a thunderous body check from Ryan Wilson.
The Avalanche defenceman sent Hall flying into the boards, damaging his left shoulder.
At first glance, the way Hall’s arm hung down his side, it appeared as though his shoulder may have been dislocated.
He returned later in the contest, possibly having it popped back into place, only to be knocked out for good when Kyle Quincey crosschecked him on the same shoulder.
“The first one was a take-out, it was a fair, clean hit,” said Renney. “The second one I did not see because it was down to my left by the net.”
Regardless how long Hall is out, there will questions as to whether he should have returned at all.
Considering there is still nearly three-quarters of the season left to play, perhaps the Oilers medical staff would have been better served to wait to do a thorough evaluation of the injury before sending him back out to the wolves.
“In fairness to (head athletic therapist) T.D. (Forss), you ask the right questions, you do the proper things, he’s the medical guy and the player is going to tell you ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and we all know how competitive (Hall) is,” said Renney. “ T.D. is a pretty prudent guy, and I have 100% faith in the decision for Taylor to come back and play based on that.”
A year ago, Hall’s season came to a premature end after injuring an ankle in a fight against Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek Dorsett.
It was a battle Hall probably should not have been fighting, going up against a much more experienced pugilist.
This time around, Hall could not do much about getting plastered into the boards by Wilson, other than perhaps not putting himself in a vulnerable position.
It’s not the first time Hall has taken a big hit in his career and it probably won’t be the last.
Yet, the injury may go a long way in determining the Oilers immediate future. Hall was fourth in team scoring with seven goals and 11 assists.
“It’s always tough when you lose a player like that,” said captain Shawn Horcoff. “He came back and it looked like he was going to be OK. We’ll see how bad he is, but it’s never a situation that you want to see happen.”