New Jersey Monthly: What did you know about New Jersey before Edmonton traded you to the Devils in 2016?
Taylor Hall: I didn’t know much at all. When I was with Edmonton and we’d come play in Newark, we’d stay in New York City, so I didn’t really have a whole lot to expect. I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I really like Hoboken and Jersey City and how close they are to New York. But when I’m out in the suburbs, like in Short Hills or Westfield or those areas, it’s really nice as well. It’s the best of both worlds.
NJM: What do you do here on your off-days?
TH: I might walk around Hoboken a little bit, go to a couple of coffee shops. Maybe take the PATH into New York and walk around SoHo. I’ve been to the mall in Short Hills a couple of times, been golfing a few times out in the suburbs.
NJM: What’s different about playing in New Jersey?
TH: I can blend in a lot easier. We have great fans and a really passionate fan base, but if I’m going to walk around, I don’t get recognized as much as I used to in Edmonton. You have that anonymity, where you can just go about your day. The other thing that’s nice about Jersey is that there’s so much to do, like sports games, or if you want to put your tourist hat on, you can do that. Once you walk out of the arena, it’s easy to be a normal guy.
NJM: How do local rivalries affect the team?
TH: In New Jersey, we have Philadelphia, the Rangers and the Islanders—all pretty big rivals for us. There’s been some playoff history, and whenever those teams come into our arena, their fans travel pretty well, and when we play there, so do ours. It’s made for a really cool experience. And we can take a bus to those arenas, which makes the schedule much easier on the body.
NJM: How do you build on last year’s success?
TH: It’s going to be fun. I had a great year and was able to vault myself into a certain tier of players. I’m just looking to keep myself there. It’s one thing to have a nice season, but it’s another thing to have consecutive good seasons. As a team, we had one of the youngest rosters in the league last season. If we’re able to improve 10 percent, each and every one of us, that’s a good gauge.
NJM: What was last season like for you?
TH: There was a real excitement in the fans. It seemed like every goal really mattered. That was a great experience. Then to go to the playoffs….Talking to the other guys, it was one of the best atmospheres they’d ever played in—and that was only the first round. I can only imagine how our fan base would get if we can advance farther. That’s really our goal going forward.
NJM: Devils fans are known for being passionate and loyal. How are they different from other fans?
TH: You can tell it’s not a bandwagon fan base. When people come to the games, they’re invested in the team. The first thing I noticed, the very first home game I played at the Prudential Center, is that everybody has a red Devils’ jersey. [The fans are] there to cheer the team on; they’re proud to be from Jersey.