The gentle whispers of a Taylor Hall appearance in Oklahoma City were an ever present thought in the mind of Oilers/Barons fans. With a still injured status, it seemed like a long shot that he’d make the AHL pre-lockout “free” waiver period that allowed specific NHL contracted players into the minors. And, of course, the rest is history. He didn’t qualify, many many others did, and Hall seemed destined to watch his fellow line mates in Edmonton play gloriously in the American Hockey League. But the saga continues, with an added wrinkle, and a magical league-issued memo.
Joanne Ireland, at the Edmonton Journal, unleashed a post this evening that clarified the rumors of Taylor Hall hurdling the AHL pre-lockout waiver agreement, and landing in the AHL anyway:
Consequently, both the Oilers and Hall’s agent stated two weeks ago that because he hadn’t been assigned, he would not be able to follow the likes of Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Justin Schultz. The Oilers assigned a total of 26 players to the Barons, their AHL affiliate, prior to the NHL lockout.
But last week, the AHL sent out a memo to its parent teams stipulating that players who do not require waivers can sign an AHL contract. If the lockout ended at mid-season, that contract would then be voided.
“They’ve clarified that players who do not require waivers, who meet the rest of the criteria, can sign an American (Hockey) League contract,” said Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.
“The intent wasn’t to prohibit guys, who would normally have been able to go, to go down.”
This “magical memo” put forth by the AHL was kept rather quiet, and it’s worth pointing out that I’ve not seen anything prior to Joanne’s piece highlighting this facet of organizational intelligence. What spurned them to make this move? It’s a strange turn of events for sure. To think that two weeks ago, the Oilers were content to keep Hall away from the AHL because of the rules, and then magically he’s eligible — timing is strange.
I’m neither a conspiracy theorist nor am I a believer in mid-October Christmas miracles, I do, however, believe that the Oilers are the luckiest/unluckiest lot in the NHL when it comes to quirky rule wrinkles. And this is another example.
The hard truth is that the AHL and NHL waited until the time was right to allow additional major league players into the minors. Exhibition games canceled, first two weeks canceled, and more on the way. The players needed an out, the league wanted to give one, and through the foggy beachhead we all search for an end to the lockout. Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City Barons benefit in immediate way. Just how good can this “minor” league team.