Taylor Hall’s introduction to hockey started in the typical Canadian way: backyard rinks built by dad, in a league by the age of 5. What began as a quintessential childhood pastime turned into the realization that Taylor’s talents could actually lead him to the NHL. The road wasn’t easy, with a strict training schedule and a few injury scares along the way, but Taylor channelled his will to get to where he is today – a winger for the New Jersey Devils and the 2017-2018 Hart Trophy winner as the league’s most valuable player.
We caught up with Taylor at an Under Armour photo shoot in Toronto to talk about his hockey journey and why he’s more motivated than ever for the 2018-2019 season.
Under Armour: How did your love for hockey start?
Taylor Hall: When I was about 5 years old, my mom put me in hockey and my dad started to build me backyard rinks. I was pretty much obsessed with hockey from the time I could hold a stick – whether it was watching it on TV, playing ball hockey in my basement or practicing in the backyard rink. I just loved it.
UA: At what point did you realize this is the career you wanted?
TH: My dream was to be an NHL player for a very long time, but it wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 that I realized I could turn this into a professional career. Once that feeling sunk in, I started to take my training a lot more seriously to reach that goal.
UA: Tell us about your hockey career from the very beginning – what was your training schedule like from the time you started as a kid until the time you were drafted?
TH: When I was kid it was a lot of just fun, playing ball hockey, roller hockey, street hockey and on my backyard rink. As I got older, I started training, I started running, and I started doing push ups and sit ups when I was 9 years old. In my teens, I got more serious and started weight training and having a more concrete schedule of workouts.
UA: At Under Armour, we talk about how WILL FINDS A WAY – was there a moment when you thought you couldn’t do it anymore?
TH: No, not really. But I definitely had a couple of injuries that had they not healed properly, my life would have been much different. There was never a moment that I thought about quitting through all those injuries, though – I knew this is the career I wanted and I was willing to do what it took to get better so that nothing stood in my way.
UA: How did your training differ the summer between the 2016-2017 season and 2017-2018 season? Do you think the way you trained made a difference in your performance?
TH: Definitely! In previous years, I would take 2 to 3 months off the ice and let my body relax. This past summer, I made a commitment to skate, play hockey and work on my skills all summer long, and I think that’s what really made the difference for me this season.
UA: Under Armour has been with you since you were drafted. What inspired you to join the Under Armour team?
TH: The assortment of athletes that are with Under Armour, the way the brand is always coming out with new products, and the fact that the gear is stylish – those are things that I’ve always noticed and appreciated. The way that I’m treated as an Under Armour athlete and the way I see how other Under Armour athletes around the world are treated says a lot. And the athletes stay with Under Armour long term. That’s definitely something that I made note of before signing on.
UA: What do you think we saw in you?
TH: A guy who works hard and never takes anything for granted. I’ve never been the guy who just relies on his current skills. I work to improve myself every day.
UA: What’s your favorite thing about being part of the Under Armour family?
TH: Being able to represent what Under Armour stands for and is known for globally. And, of course getting to say you’re on the same team as Tom Brady, Steph Curry and Jordan Spieth is really cool!
UA: If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
TH: Be ready for change and take everything as it comes.