It’s been one of the hottest topics in the NHL this week, but the Taylor Hall fight still deserves further analysis. When the Oilers’ top draft pick wrecked his ankle during a scrap with the far more experienced Derek Dorsett of Columbus, it certainly took away a big reason to watch Edmonton down the stretch.
True, Hall would have been an outsider to win the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year – an award which will be contested by Carolina’s Jeff Skinner, San Jose’s Logan Couture and one of either Corey Crawford, Michael Grabner or Brad Marchand – but the intrigue was there.
Now, there is simply the matter of whether or not the Oilers will nab the No. 1 draft slot for a second straight year.
But without moralizing, there is a case study Hall should look into while he’s laid up with his injury. That, ironically, would be Derick Brassard, Dorsett’s teammate on the Blue Jackets and a young player who decided to man up with dire consequences.
As Dave Chappelle would have put it, a case of ‘when keepin’ it real goes wrong.’
Back in 2008-09, Brassard was off to a demonic start with the Jackets. He was putting up numbers and looking like a sure-fire Calder candidate. But when then-Dallas Stars power forward James Neal rubbed out defenseman Fedor Tyutin with a big hit, it was Brassard who rushed in to fight for his teammate’s honor.
The Jackets pivot promptly injured his shoulder in the one-sided tilt (Neal’s a bigger dude) and his rookie season was toast. He has never returned to the nearly point-per-game pace he had in ’08-09 and Columbus has suffered for it. And lest you think Hall’s pedigree will protect him from a slump once he returns next year, consider that Brassard was taken sixth overall in 2006 and scored just as many points in junior when healthy, so he’s not far behind.
While Hall has a lot of time to think about his actions, here’s hoping he gets a mulligan on this one and comes out of the gate flying next season. He won’t have a Calder, but he will have a second chance.
This article was originally published in Metro News. For more hockey commentary, check out Metro Sports.