New Jersey Devils: An Afternoon With Taylor Hall


Today, in a special event at the Prudential Center, some fortunate New Jersey Devils fans got to know a bit more about the Devils new star, Taylor Hall, in a 1-on-1 conversation with Devils radio voice Matt Loughlin.

The team’s introduction to Taylor Hall was kicked off with a special surprise, an appearance by the New Jersey Devils All Star goaltender Cory Schneider. Before introducing Hall, the Devils netminder shared some optimistic thoughts on the team’s more youthful roster, how his preparation for the upcoming season changed a bit due to his participation in the World Cup of Hockey, and the benefit of experience now that he recently turned 30. His excitement about the being on Team USA was quite evident.  

But, as much as all Devils fans adore their outstanding backstop, the arena erupted in applause and cheers when Schneider invited Hall to the dias.    

Hall’s interview with Loughlin was both informative and entertaining. I have to say that the Devils’ radio voice certainly has a way about him of intermingling pure hockey, humor and drawing out plenty of enlightening anecdotes in settings like this and other interactions with players. He’s a very underrated facilitator.

The session started off with a few of those aforementioned humorous anecdotes. Hall brought the crowd to its’ knees when he spoke about the Newark Airport’s luggage carousel being one of his first impressions of New Jersey! We’ve all been there.

The story of the “Scott Stevens Tree” in Hall’s backyard drew a roar from the crowd.

The discussion on the number he is wearing, number 9 in New Jersey compared to his old number 4 sweater in Edmonton, was just as jocular in nature. As Loughlin commented that number 4 was worn by Devils’ great Scott Stevens, Hall responded that he had a tree in his backyard rink named after the hard nosed Devils defenseman. As the puzzled crowd wondered what he was talking about, he explained how the tree was aptly named because, like Stevens, if you ever skated into it, you’d be knocked out cold! Very witty.

"The Devils management and coaching staff are rolling out the red carpet for their prized your winger"

On a more serious note, Hall spoke about his excitement coming to New Jersey, speaking particularly about two things. One was the fact it was flattering to be traded to a team who wanted him so much they gave up a key part of their future. But the second impetus for his excitement was the personal treatment provided to Hall by the Devils organization thus far. Apparently, the human touch, so to speak, offered by the welcome breakfast attended by Coach John Hynes and General Manager Ray Shero and other similar outreach by his teammates has true meaning to the Devils new left winger.

Hall acknowledged the storied past of the club and their well respected defensive philosophy. He noted how it was always difficult to find free time and space playing against the Devils. Hall then continued on, expressing a strong desire to begin learning the ropes in training camp and fitting into that culture while also, of course, adding an offensive dimension and the spark the team sorely needs on their top line. Hall also shared a somewhat depressing irony to the crowd, that both he and the Devils missed the playoffs the past four years. But he then completed the message by stating that irony should make for a highly motivated bunch in the coming season.

While Hall has greatly enjoyed his summer hanging with his friends in Kingston and lowering his golf handicap by 9, he also expressed the thought that hockey season was right around the corner and he couldn’t wait to get started.  

Hall seems like he’ll be an entertaining interview going forward. He had some funny comments to make about the number of toll booths in New Jersey vis-a-vis Kingston (there are, as all New Jersey residents know, considerably more toll roads in the Garden State) and Adam Henrique’s fairly robust and creative Twitter presence. On a more serious note regarding Henrique, Hall conveyed something Devils fans already know, that being the fact number 14 brings a level of consistency and professionalism to the rink every night, something that is the key driver for Adam’s knack for scoring the big goal.  

Hall seems like a great guy. He spoke from the heart about visiting children in the hospital with a sincerity which gave me the sense he truly cares about others. Taylor noted that he himself got more out of the visits than the ailing children, because it helped him realize how fortunate he truly was to be in the position he is in life. Taylor obviously has accepted and embraced the importance of being a role model. It was both impressive and touching at the same time to listen to Hall’s remarks.  

Hall did make one serious faux pas during the interview, that being when he referred to  Henrik Lundqvist being one of the best goalies in the league! After hearing the Devils’ fans response to that, I doubt that is a statement he’ll make again anytime soon!

Next: Pleased to meet you, Taylor Hall

Finally, as interesting as the entire interview was, perhaps the most entertaining nugget occurred

Hall might not know what “Taylor Ham” is, but he knows what he needs to bring to the Devils.

as Hall described having Eggs Benedict and Canadian Bacon for breakfast. Upon hearing this, Loughlin immediately pounced into action like a forward gobbling up a center ice turnover, comparing and contrasting that iconic breakfast meat to Taylor Ham (noting the name of course) and its’ namesake, “Pork Roll”. During the comedic bit, Hall had absolutely no idea with Loughlin was referring to, which was a huge part of the reason it was so very funny.

Hall is heading back to Canada tomorrow and will be returning to New Jersey in mid-September. Until then, he’ll likely have to do without the 99 degree days which both he and the patrons enjoyed this weekend in Newark. Not exactly hockey weather, but the great day enjoyed by all was hopefully a harbinger of great things to come at The Rock for the Devils this season.