Much to the chagrin of Tyler Seguin and the bemusement of Taylor Hall, the Taylor-Tyler talk was inescapable once again at TD Garden on Wednesday when both Seguin’s Bruins and Hall’s Oilers practiced in preparation of Thursday’s clash.
It’s the lone meeting between the clubs this season, and therefore the only chance to see the two young stars forever linked by the hype that led up to their selections with the top two picks of the 2010 draft go head to head on the ice.
“It’s just something that’s going to be talked about for, I don’t know, however many years you guys decide to talk about it,” Hall said. “I’ll have fun with it. It was an interesting experience to go through that with him. I’m fine with us being linked.”
Seguin was considerably less enthusiastic about discussing his link to Hall, though he did admit to keeping tabs on his former Ontario Hockey League rival.
“It feels like five years ago,” Seguin said of the 2010 draft. “It feels like a long time ago. I think so far both of us have been playing well. I still keep up with the other guys my age, I’m not going to lie, and he seems to be doing well.”
Hall had the better rookie campaign with 22-20-42 totals in just 65 games as an ankle injury cut his season short. Seguin managed just 11-11-22 in 74 games, but enjoyed the ultimate triumph when he raised the Cup in June.
Hall admitted the Bruins’ championship left him pondering what could have been if he and Seguin had switched places atop the draft board, but with Edmonton off to a 9-3-2 start this season, he’s perfectly content with where he is.
“I was kind of forced into thinking about that when they won the Cup last year,” Hall said. “People ask me about that a lot, and I wouldn’t change anything. I love where I am right now. I love the way our team is playing this year. I think we all kind of had the feeling that last year was going to have some growing pains in it and Boston was going to be a contender, so I don’t think anyone was really shocked that they won the Cup in the end.”
Hall is off to another solid start with 3-6-9 totals in 13 games, but this season Seguin’s production has surpassed him in the early going. Seguin leads the Bruins with 8-7-15 totals in 13 games. With that hot start and last year’s title already on his resume, it’s not surprising that Seguin hasn’t been plagued by any what if scenarios from that draft.
“I haven’t really taken too much thought about what it would have been like if I was in Edmonton or he was in Boston,” Seguin said. “I think what happened was meant to be. He definitely had a great year last year and obviously being fortunate enough to win a Cup I had a good year as well. We’re just two guys in two different career paths.”
Those paths will converge for the only time this season on Thursday. That will put the spotlight squarely on Seguin and Hall once again, both of their coaches have been pleased with how they’ve handled all the attention in their young careers.
“You’re always going to get that stuff going on around you, whether it’s him going to Toronto and having to listen to all that stuff or Edmonton coming here and all that hype,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “I think eventually you kind of tune all of that out and just go about your business. … I think that’s where he’s matured a lot. Those kinds of things, he just brushes that stuff off and keeps doing his job and that’s what I like about him. He’s got his head on straight, he knows exactly how to handle situations. He’s focused on his job and just wants to be part of our team and part of the group of guys that are contributing to our success. Everything else doesn’t matter to him right now, and that’s what I like about his approach this year.”
Edmonton coach Tom Renney knows there will be some competition between the two players, but believes that could be beneficial if channeled properly.
“We’re all competitors and he’s one of the best I’ve seen, certainly at this age he’s one of the ever that I’ve seen,” Renney said of Hall. “So I suspect that there’s some motivation there, but that can be a good thing. As long as you understand that it is a team game and you let your linemates and your teammates help your way through it, it’s good.”
Seguin and Hall have played against each other just once in the NHL, with neither scoring when the Bruins prevailed 3-2 in Edmonton on Feb. 27. But they do know each other well from their OHL days, where Seguin’s Plymouth Whalers squared off with Hall’s Windsor Spitfires 11 times in the regular season and in two playoff series in the two seasons they overlapped in the OHL.
“Plymouth and Windsor was kind of like Montreal and Boston with the amount of times you play each other,” Seguin said. “It was just a 30-minute drive. We played each other lots of times.”
Hall got the better of those matchups, with Windsor winning both postseason matchups en route to a pair of OHL championships and Memorial Cup titles, but he developed plenty of respect for Seguin.
“I probably played him 20 times over the course of two years,” Hall said. “I knew him as a player very well in the OHL. I can remember before playoff games, we played them in playoff series two years in a row and half of our playoff meeting was about how to cover him and his tendencies. So he was a very good player then and he’s obviously continued to grow.”