Hockey is a team game, but you'd have to think Windsor Spitfires forward Taylor Hall was out to prove something of an individual nature during the 2010 Memorial Cup, which ended Sunday with the Spits claiming their second consecutive major-junior hockey title in a 9-1 drubbing of the host Brandon Wheat Kings.
For most of this season, Hall was the Central Scouting Bureau's top-ranked prospect for next month's National Hockey League Entry Draft. On Central Scouting's final rankings, however, Hall was ranked second behind fellow Ontario Hockey League forward Tyler Seguin of the Plymouth Whalers. The two players finished tied with 106 points for the OHL scoring title this season. Seguin had 48 goals to Hall's 40, but played in six more games.
And the Spitfires knocked Seguin and the Whalers out of the playoffs in a four- game, second-round sweep.
Hall and the Spitfires then dominated the 2010 Memorial Cup from start to finish, unlike last year's win, in which the Spits lost the first two games of the tournament and came back from the tie-breaker to win the four-team tournament. The Memorial Cup features the champions from the Ontario, Quebec and Western major junior hockey leagues, along with the host team.
The Spitfires became just the eighth team in the 92-year history of the tournament to win back-to-back titles, and the first since the 1994-95 Kamloops Blazers that featured Jarome Iginla and Darcy Tucker.
Hall, 18, became the first player to earn back-to-back Memorial Cup MVP awards. The third-year left-winger was also the 2007-08 OHL Rookie of the Year. It looks like the kid has learned all he can learn at the junior level, and the next stop is likely the NHL.
Although it's not Canadian to admit that you wanted to show how wrong the Central Scouting Bureau was, you have to think there's a little bit of Hall that was looking up to the scouts' box and saying, "What else would you like? Is this good enough?"
The 2010 Entry Draft is scheduled for June 25-26 at Staples Center in Los Angeles. The Edmonton Oilers have the first overall pick. No matter what the scouting bureau says, you have to think the Oilers are leaning toward Hall following his Memorial Cup performance.
With speed merchant Jordan Eberle also about to crack the Oilers line-up, the team should be fun to watch next season and will no doubt improve on its 30th- place, dead-last finish this past season.