Asked about what he remembered when it came to the jump from junior hockey to the pros, Chicago Blackhawks forward Taylor Hall recalled the exhaustion of playing against professionals. When it comes to the mental side of overcoming it, Hall’s had a lot of experience mentoring the up and coming kids.
“I’m just looking back, I’ve played with Jack Hughes, Nico [Hischier], Nuge (Ryan-Nugent Hopkins), [Nial] Yakupov, [Connor] McDavid, so I’ve had all these questions before,” Hall said. “You don’t go up to a guy and be like, ‘hey.’ You just have natural conversations as the year goes on.”
Along with Nick Foligno and Corey Perry, Hall is an addition to a leadership corps general manager Kyle Davidson wanted to help along Connor Bedard and the other younger core that will one day lead the Blackhawks.
But as Hall pointed out, it’s not only him who will help them along–and the mentoring and leadership will go far beyond just Bedard.
Former First Overall Pick Knows a Thing or Two About High Expectations
Hall entered the league as a heralded top overall choice, enjoying a successful junior career with the Windsor Spitfires that produced back-to-back Memorial Cup championships. Hall went first to the Edmonton Oilers, marking the first big pick in a series for the organization.
As he noted, Hall has spent time with several teams, shipped off to New Jersey where he enjoyed his finest season statistically. He spent a season with Arizona and then spent the last three with Boston.
Going from the team that had the best regular season in league history to a rebuild could discourage. Not Hall. In fact, he knows that his role takes on more than just distributing the puck and scoring goals. His goal goes beyond that and it’s not only to help this team grow, but also make sure he’s in the game for as long as he can be.
“I feel like I have a lot of game left and I want to play for as long as possible,” Hall said. “I’m not just riding into the sunset by any means. I work on all that stuff in the summer and have hard conversations with people because I want to play this game for a long time and I really think I can hopefully find a nice home here.”
So when it comes to leading and offering advice to the young players, Hall points to the locker room that is chock full of veterans.
And the advice goes further than just Bedard.
“Those are all things I’ve learned as I’ve played. It’s not just me he can rely on. Corey Perry, Foligno, there’s a lot of guys in the room who have played big games, Jonesy, that ultimately, he can rely on,” Hall said. “We’re always there for him. We want to see him do well because it’s going to help our team. That’s the biggest thing. It’s not just him, either. Reichel’s a really important player for our team. There’s a lot of young guys, not just Connor. It’s important to help everyone out.”
Taylor Hall was brought in to provide points on the scoresheet, and help lead along with several of the veterans.
But his words, wisdom, and team-first attitude are already showing that he’s bringing a whole lot more.