BOSTON -- One might have guessed Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin would live vastly different rookie experiences last season.
Theres a world apart between their situations after the talented duo was selected by the Oilers and Bruins, respecitively, in the 2010 NHL Draft a little less than 16 months ago at the Staples Center.
Even the keenest hockey observer couldnt have guessed how extreme the twinsituations would be in reality last season, however. Hall finished the season on the shelf with an ankle injury after a productive campaign for a cellar-dwelling Oilers group long on unfulfilled potential, and Seguin ended the season hoisting the Cup over his head along with his Bruins teammates.
Hall was ahead of Seguin statistically based partially on the freely available ice time and power-play reps in Edmonton. Seguin was getting a priceless hockey education skating with a talented bunch of teammates and learning at the feet of the prospect whisperer, Mark Recchi, while Hall was akin to a babe in the woods.
Seguin couldnt have drawn it up any better, and frankly he doesnt want to.
I havent given too much thought into what would have happened if I were in Edmonton or if Hall had ended up in Boston, said Seguin. I think that its what was meant to be. He definitely had a great year last year, and I was blessed enough to win the Cup at the end of the year so I had a pretty good year, too. Were just two guys in two different hockey towns.
The two supremely talented teens will enjoytheir second career NHL match-up Thursday night when the improved Oil roll into TD Garden amidst a long East Coast road trip, and hockey observers will get a chance to see both players facing off against each other on solid footing for the first time.
One game wont prove anything about which player is better, or which one will have the more accomplishedcareer when theyre both ready to call it quits. But it certainly gives a healthy glimpse as to where each elite youngforwardstands after being so closely bunched together leading up to the 2010 Draft.
TSN and other Canadian media outlets had their fun with the TaylorTyler shtick, and Seguin even admits some people in Boston actually mistakenly call him Taylor Hall to this day. Cant imagine many of those people are diehard hockey fans, given the household name each member of the Black and Gold tribe has become in Boston over the last six months, but it does speak to the hoopla that will always connect both youngsterswhile they operate on opposite ends of North America.
It also speaks to how quickly things can change.
In April, Edmonton was crowing about Halls rookie production (22 goals and 42 points)while Seguin was in the background playing a secondary role that relegated him to nonfactor status on many regular seasonnights in Boston. It also saw him begin the postseason on the bench as a healthy scratch.But all that changed once the playoffs hit, and Seguin had his Game 2 explosion against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Eastern Conference Finals that ploppedhim rightback on everybodys radar.
Seguin has 8 goals and 15 points for the Bruins in 13 games thus far in his second year, and has quickly become the focal point of Bostons offense. Seguin is also leading the NHL with a plus-11, and has gained the trust of coach Claude Julien in all game situations including the closing shift in one-goal games. Hall, meanwhile, has three goals and nine points along with a plus-3 in 13 games, and has tailed off slightlyin his last few contests according to Oilers coach Tom Renney.
More interestingly thesensitive Edmonton Oilers PR staff began shooing away reporters yesterday asking Hall about the TaylorTyler saga after onlya handful of questions in the 19-year-olds first trip to Boston. Nothing like professional PR people making a harmless situation seem troublesome, and in doing so bungling a media scrum like a first-year team out of the East Coast Hockey League.
But it does also speak to the attention both players received around the draft a bright spotlight Seguin still remembers along with the auto-pilot answers he harbored for any questions thrown his way about the rivalry between the two players.
It was crazy. It does seem like a long time ago. There are a lot of memories TaylorTyler thing that lasted in the media for four or five months, said Seguin. It was a long time ago, but its also something that you dont forget.
Hall, meanwhile, admitted that perhaps he was a little too uptight about all of the draft hoopla as it was going on, and plans on enjoying the challenge of playing Seguin and the Stanley Cup champs.
Perhaps thats why the Edmonton traveling staff still treats Hall like a hockey newborn when it comes to answering simple questions about a rivalry with Seguin that brings a littlecolor and popto the NHL.
We both did a pretty good job of handling that, said Hall while recalling the hype machine that surrounded both players vying to be the No. 1 overall pick. When I think back to the TylerTaylor' thing, I was a little bit stressed about it when I really shouldnt have been. Its just a stage in our careers.
It was a draft that picks where you go and you continue your career from there. I think weve both taken different paths . . . obviously in Seguin winning a Cup and us last year we were a lot different. But in the end its all going to work out.
While the chances are that it will work out for both young hockey stars and perhaps Hall along with The Nuge and Jordan Eberle will get the Cup back to Edmonton for the first time since the glory days of the Oilers it remains to be seen how things ultimatelywork out for the two young studs taken with those first two selections in the 2010 draft.
Thankfully there are plenty more young stars in the NHL galaxy for each of them to compare themselves with, and there isnt much more demand for the TaylorTyler soap opera to continue with the draft now firmly in the past. There will still surely be a little extra spring in the step of both talented forwards each time they suit up against each other for the next 15 years.That is part of Hall and Seguin's hockeylegacy whether they embrace it or not.