Last night we knew that Taylor Hall’s awkward post-fight fall looked dangerous. Today, the fears of Oiler Nation were confirmed as it was announced that Hall suffered a high ankle sprain and will be out for 8 weeks. Considering there are only 5 weeks left in the regular season and the Oilers have been eliminated since Thanksgiving, we’ve seen the last of the #1 overall pick for the 2010-11 season.
If a player had to lose the rest of his season to injury, Hall certainly went out with a bang. He had a goal, an assist, and a fight in less than 10 minutes of ice time—including his final shift where he completely undressed Fedor Tyutin, threw a hit on Matt Calvert, and defended himself against Derek Dorsett. He looked like the kind of player who could completely take over a game—just like they thought he could when they picked him in last June’s draft.
With Hall getting injured while engaging in fisticuffs, it has brought up the never-ending debate amongst hockey fans: should star players get into fights or let their teammates fight their battles for them? Derek Dorsett obviously went after Hall with one thing on his mind—but was it Hall’s job to answer the bell or should he have left it to one of his teammates whose job it is to protect his star player?
There’s a time and place for everything. If this were a situation where Hall dropped the gloves in a choreographed fight right off a faceoff, then it would be hard to defend his decision making. But in this instance, Hall went at it immediately when the Blue Jacket forward went after him. The fight was in the flow of the game and one of Edmonton’s best young players showed that he could stand up for himself. It’s a subtle distinction—but makes all the difference in the world.
Of course, hindsight is always 20/20. The fight lead to the worst possible conclusion and the Oilers lose their most dynamic player for the rest of the season. It was an unlucky break but we’ve seen situations like this before with Steve Ott and more recently with TJ Oshie. If you asked them if they wanted their best player to injure himself for the rest of the season, obviously they’d choose for him to keep his gloves on his talented hands. But he did the right thing and by dropping the gloves. He showed the type of character that has to have people in Edmonton excited for the future. Unfortunately, they’ll have to wait until September to see it.