BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) – In December before the season started, Jack Eichel said signing Taylor Hall was “an exciting moment for our franchise, for the city.”
Ralph Krueger (head coach at the time) said the thought of Eichel and Hall playing on the same line would be a “lethal” combination.
Sabres team President and co-owner Kim Pegula expressed an excitement over the signing when talking to News 4’s Heather Prusak in January.
“I am really very excited and hopeful that we are on the right path. And then you get things like a Taylor Hall wanting to sign here. I know it was a one-year deal but he was a free agent that every team would have loved to have them come so why did he come here? He came here because of whether it’s the coach, the situation, talking to Kevyn [Adams], talking to my husband and I,” Pegula told News 4.
“He sees an opportunity here and I think that really bods well for the organization, for the team when others from the outside feel like there’s something good happening here and wanting to be a part of it.”
You could go on and on with quotes like this showing the level of excitement Hall coming to Buffalo brought. But almost six months later to the day, he’s now on his way to Boston after the Sabres traded him to the Bruins ahead of April 12th’s 3 p.m. NHL trade deadline, a move that was expected and made official Monday morning.
“It was such a whirlwind of a year that it just went pretty badly, obviously,” Hall said during his introductory zoom call with the Bruins.
“We started off our first ten games we were above 500 and then we had the Covid outbreak and we just couldn’t get our footing after that. And for myself obviously it wasn’t the season that I would have liked to have, not even close so these last few days you do some soul searching and you look back on what you could do better and look forward to the future. And obviously I’m so happy and excited to be part of the Bruins. I can’t wait to play and I can’t wait to be part of a group like that.”
Hall used the word “winning” many times during this zoom call when talking about joining the Bruins.
Boston was basically number one on a list of teams I wanted to go to.
“It’s obviously been a bad year for me personally and I need to play well. I need to contribute and most of all I want to be a part of a team that wins games and I really believe we can do that here. That’s just my main goal,” Hall said.
“I think there’s been a lot of distractions this year, a lot of things that really haven’t gone well and confidence wise the team in Buffalo just never got off to the right foot so I think the best way to get confidence is to be a part of a winning team and to make yourself part of the bigger solution.”
Along with Hall, the Sabres also traded forward Curtis Lazar to the Bruins and in exchange got forward Anders Bjork and a second-round pick in this year’s draft. Buffalo also retains 50 percent of Hall’s salary.
It seemed like that momentum and good feelings from when Hall signed with the Sabres carried over when the season started. Hall scored his first goal with Buffalo and the team’s first goal of the season during the opener on January 14th. Eichel also had an assist on that power play goal which further had people thinking this pair was going to do some special things together with this team.
Then things went south.
It wasn’t until March 4th when Hall scored again, his second goal of the season in a 5-2 loss to the Islanders. And that was it. Just two goals for Hall during his time with the Sabres.
“Unfortunately right now I’m not the most confident hockey player. Throughout this year there’s been a lot of struggles and obviously goal scoring has been probably the biggest one so I gotta find a little bit of that part of my game back. I don’t think that it’s completely lost,” Hall explained.
A big reason Hall came to Buffalo was to reunite with Krueger who he spent time with in Edmonton. Once the Sabres finally fired Krueger, it seemed there was even more reason for Hall to want out of Buffalo.
“With Buffalo I mean I think everyone came into this season with expectations that we would do a lot better than we did. I don’t think anyone expected us to win the Stanley Cup but I thought that we would be maybe flirting with a playoff spot, you know probably ultimately end up on the outside looking in,” Hall explained.
“But I thought we could really build something maybe for the upcoming years and then around trade deadline like I am right now I’d have to make a decision on if I wanted to stay or go or whatever it may be. Ultimately things didn’t go as well as I would have liked and obviously our team was in the situation that it’s in.”
Hall even said he was close to signing with the Bruins in the summer but things didn’t work out. Now at the trade deadline, it was at the top of his list of teams to go to and Kevyn Adams made it happen.
“Kevyn Adams here the GM was just fantastic in the way he treated me and the way that he went about the situation knowing that I wanted to play for a chance to win the Stanley Cup and he worked it out to a team that I really wanted to go to. I’ll always be thankful to him for that and as a hockey guy and as a person I have a lot of respect for him,” Hall said.
And before closing out his first press conference as a Bruin, he stressed again what he’s looking for with his new team.
“I want to be a part of a winning team and whatever I have to do to do that that’s what I’m here to do so I still believe in myself a lot as a hockey player and saying that I still believe I have a lot of athleticism and a lot of speed and I hope I can add to the team with those traits.”