Ray Shero Never Discussed a Taylor Hall Contract Extension in Detail Because Neither Side Ever Gave the Other a Real Reason to Negotiate
I'm not going to go as far as saying I wasn't at least somewhat surprised to hear that, in discussing the sense it made for Taylor Hall and the New Jersey Devils to commit to one another for the foreseeable future, the discussion between Ray Shero and Darren Ferris never broached the topic of dollars. One would think that a potential contract, or at least the infancy of its framework, might be of relevance in a meeting whose sole purpose was to supposedly to see where each side stood.
Then again, one would also think that a revamped roster would make it more than six periods into the season before committing arson against every single positive vibe anyone had about its potential. The truth is, the Devils' immediate free-fall to an all-too-familiarly hellish place in the standings gave neither party a realistic opportunity to think that their partnership was anything but doomed.
I'm of the belief that, in a perfect world, both Ray Shero and Taylor Hall were open to the idea of the #9 eventually hanging in the Prudential Center rafters. In that perfect world, however, Taylor Hall would have had to have proven himself a healthy and happy difference-maker for a franchise that was proving it was well down the path to being a perennial playoff participant. I'm probably underselling it worse than the Devils did a superstar, but the world in which a former MVP couldn't buy a goal for a team that couldn't hold onto a lead if it was superglued to their sticks was far, far closer to being apocalyptic than it was to being perfect. Hell, I'm still not entirely convinced that I'm not stuck in a never-ending night terror as opposed to living out a nightmare more torturous than any that could have had Devils' fans waking up in a counterintuitive cold sweat this summer.
Perhaps the internal uncertainty had it sweltering at an unmanageable (and an immeasurable) degree, but this team was nauseatingly hot garbage with a six million dollar, 28-year old Taylor Hall. It wasn't about to be smelling all the roses by making the future concessions necessary to fit a ten million dollar (at the absolute cheapest), 30+-year-old Taylor Hall. Both parties were keenly aware of what had to happen to dodge an imminent divorce, and what did happen made spying on your parents as they scream at each other seem like a comforting watch by comparison.
Given the circumstances, it makes perfect sense that they went with a mutual split instead of having the shit-or-get-off-the-pot-style talk regarding the specifics of, metaphorically speaking, a joint bank account. It's an all-too-convenient cop-out to say that timing is everything. However, much like everything else that had their playoff pipe dream expiring faster than half-price pork, it was one major thing that should have had both sides of the aisle planning an objection to a prospective marriage between the New Jersey Devils and their Hart Trophy winner as soon as the season started (or, more accurately, failed to) winless through six. Taylor Hall knew that, his agent knew that, and Ray Shero knew that. That's why any reported meeting of the minds that took place was more focused on formalities than finances.