Chicago Blackhawks forward Taylor Hall made his training camp debut on Saturday at Fifth Third Arena after missing the first two days of practice because of a lower-body injury. He respectfully declined to share details on the nature of the injury.
"I'm not going to really get into it," Hall said "Just some precautionary stuff. I think I was ready to skate but ultimately we just decided it was best for me to stay out for a day or two, and with us not playing an exhibition game until Thursday, there was not a huge rush. It was great to be out, I felt great, and I think we're good to go now."
Hall is 31 years old and entering his 14th NHL season. He's no young kid anymore, but that doesn't mean he doesn't feel like one.
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"Everyone feels good at training camp," Hall said. "I don’t want to be that guy that’s like, 'I’m in the best shape of my career,' but yeah, I feel good, man."
Hall's on-ice focus stayed about the same over the summer, but he tweaked his off-ice training and focused more on sprinting, running, and a lot of explosive work. The speed element is something he feels is "imperative" to work on every year in today's NHL, especially if you want to play for a long time, which is Hall's goal.
And the former Hart Trophy winner hopes it could be with the Blackhawks.
"I feel like I have a lot of game left and I want to play for as long as possible," Hall said. "I’m not just riding into the sunset by any means. I work on all that stuff in the summer and have hard conversations with people because I want to play this game for a long time and I really think I can hopefully find a nice home here."
What's helping him feel young is playing with players like Connor Bedard. The two of them skated on a line together at practice on Saturday and they will likely start the season that way, too.
"Overall as a player, he makes plays, he sees the ice really well, he makes little plays that keep plays alive, he skates really well," Hall said of Bedard. "He's kind of the whole package. If he can round his game at center into a guy that's dependable defensively and then obviously he adds what he adds offensively, he's going to be one of the best players in the league.
"He doesn't feel like an 18-year-old, so that's a credit to him, it's a credit to his upbringing. We're all really excited to see what he can do this year and help him along and ultimately get him in the best position possible to help our team."