Commentary

Tyler vs. Taylor, 2.0

Now who's on top, B's 2010 No. 2 overall pick Seguin or Oilers' No. 1 Hall?

Originally Published: November 9, 2011
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Tyler Seguin approached his stall in the Boston Bruins' locker room after practice Wednesday and turned around to face the reporters camped out waiting for him.

"Just one thing: no questions about Taylor," Seguin said with a smile.

But he knew -- as did anyone who saw that Seguin, whom the Bruins picked second overall in the 2010 NHL draft, would play against the No. 1 pick, Edmonton Oilers forward Taylor Hall, for a second time Thursday -- that an inevitable trip down memory lane awaited. As that draft approached, Seguin and Hall flew through a whirlwind of hype together, wondering along with the rest of the world which player would be the top pick. For months leading into the draft, Seguin and Hall traveled in tandem for promotional and media events, entertaining questions about themselves and each other and where they would like to end up -- Edmonton or Boston?

So as the rest of the reporters gathered around Seguin on Wednesday-- as they would around Hall, after the Oilers practiced at TD Garden -- the déjà vu began. Both players were bombarded with the "What if he went there and you went here" scenarios and the questions of how each feels he stacks up when compared to the other.

[+] EnlargeTyler Seguin
Bruce Bennett/Getty ImagesTyler Seguin, left, and Taylor Hall were the big winners at the 2010 NHL entry draft, but one of them will be disappointed Thursday night when Seguin's Bruins host Hall's Oilers.

"It feels like five years ago," Seguin said of June 25, 2010, the day of the draft, when their paths finally split in different directions. "It feels like a long time ago. I think so far both of us have been playing well. I still keep up with the other guys my age, I'm not going to lie, and he seems to be doing well.

"But it was crazy, and it does feel like such a long time ago. There's a lot of memories from the 'Taylor-Tyler' mania. Four or five months especially of me and him, and it feels like a long time ago but it's something you don't forget."

Hall acknowledged that 2010 draft questions likely will always follow them.

"It's just something that's going to be talked about for, I don't know, however many years you guys decide to talk about it," Hall said. "I'll have fun with it. It was an interesting experience to go through that with him. I'm fine with us being linked."

Hall did admit it wasn't that easy this past June when, following an injury-shortened regular season in which he finished with 20 more points (42) than Seguin (22) and looked like the true No. 1 pick, he had to watch Seguin hoist a Stanley Cup at the end of his rookie season with the Bruins. In the days following that, Hall was asked numerous times whether he wondered what could have been.

"I was kind of forced into thinking about that when they won the Cup last year," Hall said. "People ask me about that a lot, and I wouldn't change anything. I love where I am right now. I love the way our team is playing this year. I think we all kind of had the feeling that last year was going to have some growing pains in it and Boston was going to be a contender, so I don't think anyone was really shocked that they won the Cup in the end."

Meanwhile, Seguin said he hasn't considered whether life would have been better as an Oiler.

"I haven't really taken too much thought about what it would have been like if I was in Edmonton or he was in Boston," Seguin said. "I think what happened was meant to be. He definitely had a great year last year, and obviously being fortunate enough to win a Cup, I had a good year as well. We're just two guys in two different career paths."

Indeed they are. Hall came into Edmonton and was seen as the savior or "the next one" to Oilers fans longing for the dynasty years with the "Great One," Wayne Gretzky. But Seguin arrived to a team already in Cup contention and eventually helped fulfill that potential as the Bruins beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games for their first Stanley Cup in 39 seasons.

Both Oilers coach Tom Renney and Bruins coach Claude Julien have watched as those scenarios have molded the two 19-year-olds, and both bench bosses have been impressed with the maturation of Hall and Seguin, on and off the ice.

Julien said Seguin has done well in maintaining his focus in the face of media scrutiny.

"You're always going to get that stuff going on around you. I think eventually you kind of tune all of that out and just go about your business. I think that's where he's matured a lot," Julien said of Seguin, who leads the Bruins with 15 points. "Those kinds of things, he just brushes that stuff off and keeps doing his job, and that's what I like about him. He's got his head on straight; he knows exactly how to handle situations.

"He's focused on his job and just wants to be part of our team and part of the group of guys that are contributing to our success. Everything else doesn't matter to him right now, and that's what I like about his approach this year."

Renney said Hall has matured as well but is still learning to accept the fact he doesn't have to be the savior he was pegged to be. Hall sits fourth on his team in points with nine, behind fellow youngsters Jordan Eberle (11) and the top pick in the 2011 draft, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (12), as well as leading scorer Ryan Smyth (14). Renney pointed out that Hall is learning, just as Seguin has, that he is not so much the main piece as he is a key cog in the system.

"Sometimes you work so hard at chasing the game down, and I think that's what he's doing right now instead of letting it come to him," Renney said of Hall. "You leave yourself a little bit open, and I think with Taylor under the circumstances, if he lets the game come to him and allows his teammates to be part of the equation here, he's such a good player and such an explosive player, a very influential and impact player for us, and I know that he's driven to do that every single shift. But I think he's got to settle down and let the game come to him because he's just so good."

Both Hall and Seguin seem happy with the way things have gone since they were drafted. Hall has settled into the hockey-crazed city of Edmonton, and Seguin says he already feels like a Bostonian. As the media access in the Bruins dressing room was winding down, Seguin was asked what question he and Hall were asked most in the months leading into the 2010 draft.

"The pros and cons of Boston or Edmonton," Seguin said. "I think I had a couple of liners in my head, just automatics that would happen, the exact same answers every single time, and I would just say go look it up. But during the draft, that was kind of my thing, kind of the same words."

A reporter then asked what the pros of Boston would be now.

"Everything," Seguin said immediately. "There's not a con I'd say about this city. It's home now."

James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

James Murphy

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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