Hall decides to have shoulder surgery

Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall could miss as much as six months. (REUTERS/ Mike Blake)

Edmonton Oilers left wing Taylor Hall could miss as much as six months. (REUTERS/ Mike Blake)

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:23 PM ET

EDMONTON - It’s not easy to argue that somebody who went first overall in the NHL draft and made $7.5 million over his first two seasons is having a tough start to his NHL career, but Taylor Hall’s medical chart makes a strong case.

There was the ankle injury that shut him down after 65 games as a rookie.

There was the ghastly skate-blade accident during a pre-game warmup that left him with a 40-stitch gash across his forehead.

There was Calgary’s Cory Sarich knocking him cold, and out of the lineup with a concussion, two weeks ago.

And now this, news that the shoulder he injured four months ago will require surgery, followed by a long, six-month rehab that might impact next season’s training camp.

“The first couple of years I didn’t anticipate I would only be playing 65 and 61 games, I thought I would be a healthy player,” said Hall, after the Oilers announced that he’d hit for the hard-luck cycle.

“It can get to you, for sure. It’s not the way I envisioned my career starting. But, to be honest, I really think I’ve had some bad luck.

“The injury last year was in a fight and I fell on some bad ice. The shoulder this year was because I hurt it back in junior and the concussion was probably my fault.

“To be honest, these injuries are kind of freak. It’s just really hard to explain; I’ve run into some bad luck my first couple years here but I don’t think I’m going to change my game too much, I just think I ran into some bad luck.”

The shoulder, the most serious of the bunch, has been bothering him since his Windsor Spitfire days.

“I’d probably say four years now,” said Hall, who was in Cleveland Monday to see a shoulder specialist. “I injured it in junior and it doesn’t really heal itself. It kind of wears away and it got to the point this year when I got hit in Colorado it got pretty bad.”

The breaking point came when Hall was boarded by Avalanche defenceman Ryan Wilson on Nov. 26. He returned after missing seven games, but knew then he’d be going under the knife.

“When I injured it in Colorado I knew at the end of the year I was going to have surgery. I knew it had to get fixed. To be honest, I’ve been playing with a pretty bad shoulder a lot of this year. There’s been a lot of times when I’ve come into games and my shoulder’s been pretty bad. I had to really shy away from hits.”

The Oilers medical staff determined that continuing the season would not result in any further damage, so Hall played through the pain.

“I felt it was good enough to play so I wanted to complete the season, but as I’ve gone on it’s gotten pretty bad so now have to shut it down,” he said, adding MRIs from November and now look pretty much the same. “Throughout the year I think you guys saw that it was bugging me at certain points in time and I’m at the point now where I have to have surgery.”

The concussion pretty much sealed the deal. He wasn’t coming back anyway, so there is no need to wait until the off-season.

“No use coming back now and getting hit in the head,” said Hall. “That will just complicate things further.”

Labrum surgery is the same operation Shawn Horcoff and Ales Hemsky had, and as we all remember, their comebacks weren’t exactly seamless.

“I’ve been told that being a 20-year-old really helps with the healing process,” said Hall. “I’ve talked to a lot of guys who’ve had this surgery and the biggest thing they’ve told me is when they come back too soon it doesn’t heal properly and they’ve had problems after that.

“I don’t want to rush it. I want to take the time to make it nice and strong.”

The recovery process is long and gruelling, but Hall is looking forward, for the first time in four years, to playing without pain.

“I’m excited to see what I can do,” he said. “Hopefully when it all gets fixed and healed, I hope it’s good and strong and it’s even better than my right one.”

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robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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