On Sunday night star free agent forward Taylor Hall stunned the hockey world when he made the decision to sign with the Buffalo Sabres. It was a team no one had predicted and a team that no one had expected would even be in the mix for Hall given the recent reports coming out of Buffalo, but in the end they won the bidding war and will have Hall for the 2020 - 2021 NHL regular season.
There were reports out there that other organizations, notably the Colorado Avalanche, had also made Hall short term offers but had not come close to offering him the kind of salary the Sabres did on their 1 - year offer of $8 million that sealed the deal. Call me cynical but at the end of the day I believe that the money, as well as the chance to earn even more money after spending a year playing with Jack Eichel and potentially earn even more down the road, is what was the main motivating factor in Hall's decision to go to Buffalo. However on Monday morning Hall published a letter in which he revealed his own motivations for the decision.
Here it is, unedited and in full, via the Sabres official website:
Before I get into my decision to sign with the Sabres, I want to share a story about Ralph Krueger.
It was 2013, and we were on a flight back to Edmonton. Ralph was in his only year as head coach of the Oilers, a season that only lasted 48 games because of the lockout.
Ralph called me to the front of the plane. I automatically assumed we were going to go over the video or talk about the game. What he actually asked sticks with me to this day.
How are you doing?
That is who Ralph Krueger is: the kind of guy who wants to know how you are doing as a person during the grind of a shortened season. That was my third year in the league and it truly was a breakout season for me. I've often wondered how things might be different if Ralph had stayed head coach in Edmonton.
In a way, I guess I'm about to find out.
People seemed surprised when it came out Sunday that I had signed with the Sabres. I don't think they should be. Before free agency even began, my agent and I assessed every organization in the league and considered what it might be like to play there.
When I looked at Buffalo, I saw a coach whom I respect and who knows how to get the most out of his players. I saw young, elite talent that will only get better. I saw owners in Terry and Kim Pegula and a general manager in Kevyn Adams who are committed to success.
I told my agent that, should the opportunity arise, Buffalo would be a place I could see myself playing.
Talks with the team cemented that feeling. They assured me it is a win-now situation. I know the fanbase there is ready for success and I'm sure the players are as well. They just kept reiterating to me that this is a team that could take strides and really do some damage if I came on board.
I think this deal gives me a chance to prove myself. Everyone knows the marketplace for UFAs was unique this year due to COVID and the salary cap. I can't rule out anything beyond this season, but I truly have a good feeling about the potential in Buffalo.
I already heard from a bunch of the guys last night. I have been around Jack Eichel and know the type of person and player he is. Obviously, that was a big draw. I have a ton of respect for Eric Staal and feel he has a lot of game left. I work out during summers with Jeff Skinner and know the work he puts into his craft.
I just want to be one of the guys and hopefully contribute to a good year for us. It was a whirlwind couple of days, but I was finally able to land somewhere where I feel wanted. The feeling is mutual.
It sounds like unfinished business with his former head coach Ralph Krueger may have been a big factor as we speculated in our 5 reasons for Hall's decision last night. I also have no reason to doubt Hall when he says that the opportunity to play with elite level talent was a big part of what drew him to Buffalo. Playing with Jack Eichel will no doubt be a blast in the short term, and if Eichel helps him regain the form he once showed as a former NHL MVP then it will also benefit him in the long run.
Let us know what you think of Hall's motivations in the comments below.