With the news today that Taylor Hall is out for the remainder of the season and will be getting surgery for his injured left shoulder, I am curious as to the timing for the decision to sit him now vs. earlier this season.

A quote from the official notice today on the Oilers website…

“While Hall is currently out with a concussion he sustained when Calgary’s Cory Sarich pasted him along the boards in Mar. 16’s Battle of Alberta, that has nearly healed — but the timing was right to initiate the steps in recovering from a longstanding problem in No. 4’s left shoulder.”

The story continues on, that the injury happened about four years ago while Hall was still in junior playing for the Windsor Spitfires. It also mentions that GM Steve Tambellini and Head Coach Tom Renney knew that the surgery would be required at some point. Did they know when they drafted him? My guess is that they did.

I wonder what the impetus for the decision to sit Hall was? The current position in the standings? Well… The Oilers have been looking at 29th place for over a month now, and the only meaningful games for this team in that time have been to play the role of spoiler to teams in a play-off race, so that can’t be it. Could it be that there have been reports of Taylor’s knee also not being 100%? Or is it that his concussion is not going to allow him to come back this season anyway so get the surgery out of the way while there’s still time?

It certainly seems odd that they choose now, knowing that it takes quite a while to recover from surgery and there is essentially 6 months until October 1st and the start of the 2012 – 2013 season. This could have been decided a month or two ago when all hope of the play-offs was lost to this team. this way they might be able to maximize Hall’s recovery and re-hab time.  Jason Gregor suggested on his show this afternoon that we as fans, should not be surprised if Hall gets off to a slow start next year, due to returning from such an injury.

I have a couple of questions here;

1) When Oilers fans were all rev’d up over the Taylor Vs. Tyler draft decision, why was the shoulder not discussed at that time? I know the media was all over the fact that Hall got crushed in the Memorial Cup and looked like he would need to learn how to watch his back a lot better in the NHL if he was going to have a lengthy career. This feels like the Khabibulin back issue all over again. The team knew (supposedly) when they signed him, yet they did it anyways, and kept it quiet until the injury manifested itself. Not to mention the exhaustion issue that was known to the Blackhawks, but somehow never carried over to the Oilers. It also smells somewhat like the comments that Sheldon Souray made about being asked to play while still not fully healed from a shoulder injury. What is with this team and bum shoulders anyways??

2) Is Management truly doing what is best for this team? I am skeptical with the messages that i hear from GM Steve Tambellini these days. I wrote a little about my discontent about being sold hope by management instead of honesty. This is just one more red flag in my mind about the decisions being made and the people making them. I guess ownership has the same questions, what with no contract extensions for either the Coach or the GM yet. I also wonder about the competency of the training and medical staff of this organization. Especially after all the injuries this team has suffered in the last 5 seasons. I won’t list them as they are too lengthy to mention. When Colin Fraser broke his foot, he was advised by Team doctors (according to the Edmonton Journal) not have surgery and the hope was that the injury would heal by itself. This spawned the Mulletgate story in the trade for Ryan Smyth, which we all know about. The  Training Staff was overhauled as were the coaches and Management three years ago with no better results it seems.

I will be happy to see this season come to a merciful end, so that we can truly look at some hope for next season. There have been several bright spots this year, we all know what they are; The special teams improvement, the play of the kids, Jeff Petry, and the emergence of Devan Dubnyk lately. But there is still so much to do in Oil Country this off-season. Much to do indeed! Maybe I will write a piece soon on what I believe to be the top 5 priorities for the off-season.

For now…


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