“This is probably the hardest team in hockey to make.”
Those were the thoughts of 22-year-old Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall as he addressed the media after Day 2 of Hockey Canada’s Olympic Orientation Camp.
Hall is one of 47 players invited to camp for Team Canada and one of two Oilers attempting to make the roster alongside fellow forward Jordan Eberle.
The Oilers duo had time to reflect on the magnitude of the opportunity in front of them. It’s the chance to represent their country with the best-of-the-best on the world’s largest stage.
“It’d be amazing,” said an ecstatic Hall. “It’d be, probably, the best experience in my life. Just seeing all of the videos that they showed yesterday to us, it really got me fired up and just the possibility of being on this team makes me very excited.”
Hall’s teammate concurs with that sentiment.
“It’s just an honour to be here itself,” Eberle said. “You look around at some of the names and guys who you play against and, obviously, compete against. Just to be out here and bonding with them and being a part of this organization and Team Canada, it’s pretty special.”
The attendees of the Team Canada Orientation Camp in Calgary have some of the highest V.I.P credentials with some of the top players in the entire NHL pursuing a roster spot.
For Hall and Eberle, it’s a great time to absorb, learn and grow.
“You just want to be around them and just take up as much as you can,” Eberle admitted. “Obviously, everyone has earned the right to be here and for myself, just go back to Edmonton and try and play the best that I can.”
The two Oil youths are no stranger to many of these players, having either squared off against them in the NHL, played with them at World Juniors or met them elsewhere in their careers. While it is nice to be playing on the same side, the familiarity is comforting as well.
“A lot of these guys actually, I’ve played with in World Championships,” Eberle said. “I think it was easier for me to come in just because I’ve known everyone with the exception of just a couple of guys.
“When you have that familiarity, it’s easy. Things are a lot more comfortable and when you’re comfortable, you play better. It makes it a lot easier.”
For both players it’s been a life in the stands, watching Team Canada compete at the Olympics from a fan’s point-of-view. But now it’s their turn to try and crack an exclusive lineup and be a part of their own run at history.
“I was a fan watching the 2010 Olympics when (Sidney Crosby) scored that goal in overtime,” said Hall. “I knew that I’d be 22-year old when this time came around and it’s been a goal of mine for a long time. So, just to be here in contention is a great feeling but I have to make sure that I have a good start to the year and really put myself in a spot to possibly be on the team.”
“Obviously, there’s few spots open and you just want to be anywhere and accept any role you’re given,” Eberle added. “Whether it’s the 13th forward or whatever it is. But obviously, it would be an honour.”
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