Taylor Hall #4 of the Edmonton Oilers walks to the locker room following warm ups to the NHL game against the Phoenix Coyotes at Jobing.com Arena on December 15, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona.
(December 14, 2011 - Source: Christian Petersen/Getty Images North America)

Eakins: ‘Sad day’ as Hall fails to make Olympic team


On a day Taylor Hall learned he wouldn’t be representing Canada in Sochi, his head coach expressed disappointment with the decision.

“It’s a sad day,” Eakins said, per the Oilers. “I’m sure Taylor’s choked. I haven’t talked to him yet, because I think there is a grieving process to it.

“[But] it’s a sad day for me.”

Hall, Edmonton’s leading scorer (41 points) and the 10th leading Canadian scorer in the NHL this season, was invited to this summer’s Olympic orientation camp and thought to have an outside shot of making the 25-man roster.

In the end, though, too many factors worked against him. Hall has zero playoff experience and hasn’t achieved much success in Edmonton in the way of victories — the team has yet to post more than a .469 winning percentage in his first three years in the league, though that’s hardly on Hall’s shoulders.

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that Eakins is confident getting passed over will serve Hall well in the long run.

“Knowing Taylor and how motivated he is to be the best player on the ice each night, I think this will turn into great fuel for him,” Eakins said. “But nonetheless, I’m sure he was greatly disappointed.”

Friday’s loss serves as ‘harsh lesson’ for Blue Jackets

Jasper Fast, Nick Foligno, Henrik Lundqvist
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Late in the third period of Friday’s game against the New York Rangers, things were looking good for Columbus.

Brandon Saad, who the team acquired from Chicago this off-season, scored his first goal of the season to give his team a 2-1 lead with under four minutes remaining in the contest.

Unfortunately for the Jackets, that’s as good as it would get.

The Rangers responded with three unanswered goals from Oscar Lindberg, Kevin Hayes and Mats Zuccarello to spoil Columbus’ home opener.

“When something like that happens at the end, I think we’re gonna be a better team because of it,” defenseman Ryan Murray told reporters after the game. “It’s a harsh lesson, but it’s a good one.

Luckily for Columbus, they won’t have to wait very long to try and get their revenge.

The Blue Jackets and Rangers will finish off their home-and-home series at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, which might not be such a bad thing for Columbus.

“It’s good that we get another chance tomorrow,” Saad said after Friday’s game. “We were high on emotions (after the go-ahead goal) and they scored and it took the wind out of our sails, but we have to keep playing. We have to learn to keep doing our thing, regardless of the score.”



Kings GM says Mike Richards went into ‘a destructive spiral’

Mike Richards

The Los Angeles Kings may owe Mike Richards money until 2031 (seriously), but in settling his grievance, the team and player more or less get to turn the page.

Not before Kings GM Dean Lombardi shares his sometimes startling perspective, though.

Lombardi has a tendency to be candid, especially in the press release-heavy world of sports management. Even by his standards, his account of Richards’ “destructive sprial” is a staggering read from the Los Angeles Times’ Lisa Dillman.

“Without a doubt, the realization of what happened to Mike Richards is the most traumatic episode of my career,” Lombardi said in a written summation he provided to the Los Angeles Times. “At times, I think that I will never recover from it. It is difficult to trust anyone right now – and you begin to question whether you can trust your own judgment. The only thing I can think of that would be worse would be suspecting your wife of cheating on you for five years and then finding out in fact it was true.”

Lombardi provides plenty of eyebrow-raising statements to Dillman, including:

  • He believed he “found his own Derek Jeter” in Richards, a player who “at one time symbolized everything that was special about the sport.”
  • Lombardi remarked that “his production dropped 50 percent and the certain ‘it’ factor he had was vaporizing in front of me daily.”
  • The Kings GM believes that he was “played” by Richards.

… Yeah.

Again, it’s a powerful read that you should soak in yourself, even if you’re unhappy with the way the Kings handled the situation.

Maybe the most pressing of many lingering questions is: will we get to hear Richards’ side of the story?