Taylor Hall a Hockey Mainstay in Tulsa
By GLENN HIBDON
GTR Sports Writer
OILERS GENERAL MANAGER: Taylor Hall is now the general manager of the Tulsa Oilers Hockey team.
GTR Newspapers photos
One of Taylor Hall’s most cherished memories is still vivid after all these years. The Tulsa Oilers had just defeated Oklahoma City 8-6 in the Myriad to win the 1992-93 Central Hockey League championship. The joy was palpable and the celebration seemed to never end.
“I remember all the people we had waiting for us at the Convention Center (after returning from Oklahoma City) and the parade we had after we won the championship,’’ says Hall, who became general manager of the Oilers during the 2008-09 season. “I played 12 years as a pro and won one championship. I felt like Tulsa was home. Those are memories I’ll never forget.’’
Now 50, the Regina, Sask., native traveled a long and winding road to Tulsa. He’s worn many hats, including player, coach, general manager and co-owner, but he said the title he loves most lies in the Oilers’ front office.
“I’ve done just about everything in hockey except trainer and Zamboni driver,’’ Hall says. “I was very fortunate to be blessed with the ability to play the game I love as a kid and before my career was over to continue as a coach. It’s been a lot of fun to be involved at all levels, but I’m not a real ambitious guy. Jeff Lund (former Oilers owner) gave me the opportunity to come back to Tulsa as the GM and Tulsa is my hockey home.’’
As a player, Hall suited up for 41 games in the National Hockey League, 34 with Vancouver and seven with Boston. Chosen No. 116 in the sixth round of the 1982 entry draft by the Canucks, he found his way to the Oilers in 1992 and played four seasons. He finished with 124 goals and 145 assists, and his best pro season came during the 1992-93 title campaign with 80 points.
Hall began his coaching career with the New Mexico Scorpions of the Western Pro League in 1996-97 and coached Corpus Christi from 98-99 through 2000-01. With a career record of 166-116-28 behind the bench, Hall proved he could be successful at the next level.
It all began in a Canadian backyard.
“We used to go outside in the winter and used a stick and a ball on the frozen ground. I was five years old,’’ says Hall, who played pro hockey as a 5-11, 190-pound winger. “As early as I can remember my brother and I had sticks in our hands, but it wasn’t until I was seven years old in school that I started skating and playing organized hockey. I was a late starter.’’
Hall’s playing career sprouted wings at 16 when he joined the major junior Regina Pats. It led to his being drafted by Vancouver at 17.
“I grew up a lot between 15 and 17. I went from midgets to major juniors to the Western Hockey League finals,’’ Hall said. “To get drafted at 17 was pretty amazing. It was shocking, surreal and a huge thrill.’’
Hall suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament against the Islanders after sliding into the goal and missed the entire 1984-85 season. It led to the end of his career, but he can say he played against and with some of the greatest names in hockey, including Wayne Gretzsky and Ray Bourque.
Hall met future Oilers coach Garry Unger, one of his favorite stars, when Hall was a member of the Canadian National Team. Unger was coaching in Phoenix, and the two became friends. When Unger came to Tulsa as coach for the inaugural 1992-93 season, Hall, just returned from playing overseas, contacted Unger about joining the Oilers. The rest is history.
Hall’s time in Tulsa led to coaching in the and that included front office duties.
“I was part of the startup in New Mexico and Corpus Christi,’’ he says. “I worked in the office doing promotion and marketing, and that helped me in doing what I do today. It’s fun to be involved at all levels.’’
Perhaps the biggest assignment for Hall now is leading the Oilers into a consolidation with the East Coast Hockey League. The recently announced deal where all seven franchises are absorbed into the is seen as a major stepping stone for the Oilers.
“We’re ready to be part of something nationwide and our fans deserve it,’’ Hall says. “The opportunity presents itself with affiliations, and we’re moving to new challenges. “We won’t be competing for players with the and it will give us more stability with players and their contracts. Young prospects favored going to the rather than the as a path to the . Bruce (Oilers coach Bruce Ramsay) is getting calls from players who want to come to Tulsa.’’
Hall said one benefit to fans is more hockey. The season consists of 72 games, six more than the old , and the new 28-team is the only AA level league in North America.
“You’ll see the best AA hockey product in the world,’’ says Hall. “We’re one step below the American Hockey League and we will have players in their primes in Tulsa. This will be their first stop while they climb the ladder. I’ve been in the , , and , but the is one place I’ve never been. I’m looking forward to it.’’
At the same time, Hall reflects back on a career in hockey that began with a stick and ball and a frozen yard in Regina.
“I had the opportunity to be a player, and players never think about how special it is to hang out with their buddies on the bus and in the dressing room,’’ says Hall. “To be paid for it was pretty amazing. I enjoyed the whole process, from player to coach to general manager.’’