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Taylor Hall on relationship with Coyotes, resuming NHL season

Taylor Hall #91 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck during the first period of the NHL game against the New York Islanders at Gila River Arena on February 17, 2020 in Glendale, Arizona. The Coyotes defeated the Islanders 2-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Taylor Hall wants to play hockey again.

He told NBC Sports Network’s Mike Tirico as much while joining him on a video call from his home in Toronto. At the end of the interview, Tirico told Hall to “hit ’em straight,” as Hall’s outfit hinted he was about to go play a round of golf. Such is life for an NHL player these days.

The hockey season was put on hold on March 12, and since then, the sports world has debated how and when to get back to competition. Some athletes, including those in the baseball landscape, have voiced concerns about safety and the risk involved with going back to work while a pandemic is going on.

Hall didn’t seem worried.

“To be honest, I’m pretty good with everything,” he said. “I’m comfortable taking a risk and coming back to play. I think we take risks every day with what we do and I think certainly there are risks involved with everything going on. But I’d be willing to put that aside and hopefully play hockey again this year. I miss it a lot and I miss competing and being around the guys.

“I know that they’re not just going to feed us to the wolves. They’re going to set up regulations for us and they’re going to have testing involved and make sure it’s as safe as possible for us, and I think that’s what we all want and that’s good for me.”

The Coyotes were out of a playoff spot at the time the season stopped, and if the NHL resumes its season, the format of how they do so could determine the fate of Arizona’s season. The Coyotes could still get to the playoffs if the team gets either a healthy sum of regular season games to make up ground or if the league goes to a much-rumored 24-team playoff.

Meanwhile, Hall has free agency to think about. He was traded to Arizona from the New Jersey Devils this season, and the former Hart Trophy winner would be a good one to keep around for a team that needs elite scoring. The uncertain timeline of the NHL offseason makes it unknown when Hall will have to make his decision about staying in Arizona or moving on.

“I think it’s a tough spot to be in. I’ve had a great time playing with the Coyotes and meeting everyone here and talking to [GM] John [Chayka] and [head coach] Rick [Tocchet] and the coaching staff,” Hall told Tirico. “I think we have a great relationship. But with everything going on, we don’t know what the outlook is for the future and I think both sides are talking a little bit, but it’s important to know what the future looks like and to know when free agency could possibly be and what the outlook is.

“So there’s still time to have those talks and I think we have a really good relationship on both sides so we’ll see where it goes.”

Tocchet, in joining the ESPN on Ice podcast, said that he thinks the Coyotes are contenders to be Hall’s destination in free agency.

“I wouldn’t take us out of the running. I’m obviously biased,” Tocchet said. “I’m not saying he is going to sign here. But I definitely think we are a team he’s very interested in staying with.

“I think he really, as an individual, what I like about him is he’s obsessed right now with trying to win. He wants to win so bad. And what is he willing to do? You always want to have those types of players on your team. Do I feel that we’re one of those teams in his group of teams? I think we are.”

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