Jun 25, 2010, 11:30 PM EDT
You won’t find many people in the hockey world who were surprised that Taylor Hall was the number one pick, but he was still shaken up when he heard the announcement.
“I was so shocked,” Hall said. “I was shaking in my seat. I got up to the podium, or whatever it is, and I was shaking so much I couldn’t even put my jersey on. I’m just so happy. My whole family’s so happy. It means a lot to us.”
It also means a lot to the future of the Edmonton Oilers. The team suffered from an absolutely atrocious 2009-10 season, one that I’ve often called “Murphy’s Law on ice.” They were – by far – the worst team in the NHL. High-level winger Ales Hemsky’s season ended abruptly due to injury while Nikolai Khabibulin’s nightmares only began on the ice (and in his surgeon’s room). Really – aside from the unexpectedly productive Dustin Penner – there weren’t many bright sides to look at in a dismal season for the struggling Canadian franchise.
Although the team has some nice prospects, much of the weight of a battered fan base will be placed on Hall’s shoulders. Does the young rookie-to-be feel burdened by the pressure?
“Not really. I thought about that. There are always expectations no matter what you do.” Hall said. “Obviously being a number one pick, I have to go in there and have a job to do, and I think I have the tools to do it. I know I have the confidence and the drive, so that’s what’s going to push me every day to be a better player and help the team out.”
Hall seems like he’s accustomed to the attention and spotlight of being a highly sought after prospect. It’s difficult to argue with his results up to this point, either, as he earned two straight tournament MVPs and two Memorial Cups in a row as part of the incredible Windsor Spitfires. (The Spitfires also featured No. 12 pick Cam Fowler, among other quality players.)
The 18-year-old future of the Oilers franchise must go a long way before he can justify all the hype. But on some level, Hall has already been on quite the journey.
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