Ralph Krueger made official Tuesday what everybody in Edmonton already knows: If this is indeed the dawn of a new era in Oilers hockey, Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall are the men who will be leading them out of the darkness and into the long-awaited light.
In naming 22-year-old Eberle and 21-year-old Hall his alternate captains, Krueger reinforces the confidence GM Steve Tambellini showed last summer when the signed the pair to $36-million and $42-million contract extensions eight days apart.
This is their time, and it's their team.
"We're evolving as far as leadership is concerned and we feel it's a good time for Jordan and Taylor to step up," said Krueger, who has Eberle wearing the A on a full time basis and Hall rotating it from game to game with veteran defenceman Nick Schultz.
"They've taken leadership on the ice here from day one, practice one, game one, two years ago and there's nothing stopping them from taking on this next step right now."
Leadership isn't something that's given out, it's something that's taken. Hall and Eberle, from the way they play to the way they conduct themselves in the room, have been stepping into these roles from the moment they arrived.
"It's the passion they bring to Edmonton, the passion they bring to the game of hockey, they're thinking hockey 24-7," said Krueger.
"I've been here the same amount of time that they've been part of their organization and it's their passion for the game above all that we think will help them evolve into the leaders we need."
Captain Shawn Horcoff says the promotions were inevitable.
"It's the next step in the evolution for them," he said. "And it's a step in the right direction for the organization. We've gone through a transition here. There's a different mindset in here, a different skill set, for sure.
"We're moving toward something greater and the move today represents that. These guys are the future of the Edmonton Oilers. It's time for them to make that step and I think they're going to be great at it."
They'll be replacing former alternates Ryan Whitney and Ales Hemsky, but the move will have little impact on the veterans. Hemsky is quiet and has never been a prototypical leader, while Whitney is strong and honest enough that he doesn't need a letter to speak to and for the team. This just represents the growth of the two franchise players.
Edmonton Oilers name Young Guns Jordan Eberle and Taylor Hall alternate captains
Edmonton Sun | Jan 16