The Edmonton Oilers winger was on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s The Andrew Walker Show Thursday to talk about the trade that rocked the city, what to expect of the team’s next captain, and his childhood fascination with Pokemon.
“I looked at my phone after the ceremony and I had about 90 text messages,” he said. “Immediately I was thinking I got traded. I didn’t really have a reaction, it’s a business. More than anything, it’s tough to see a friend go. Me and Taylor grew up playing with the Oilers — came in together, lived together and obviously [we are] very good friends.
“On the other side, we get a very good defenceman, something I know we needed,” he said. “It’s something that will help us in a tough western conference.”
Eberle was a first-round draft choice of the Oilers in 2008 while Hall was selected first overall in 2010. They both played six seasons in Edmonton.
“I spoke to [Hall] right after [the trade]. More than anything, you feel like you let down the team a little bit,” Eberle said, referring to Hall. “We haven’t made the playoffs here and the end goal is to do well. You wanna be one of the guys to turn it around, and when you get the opportunity taken away, I think you’re a bit hurt.”
Walker asked Eberle about the vacant Oilers captaincy. With Hall gone and Connor McDavid entering his second NHL season, some have speculated that McDavid will wear the letter. Sportsnet’s Mark Spector wrote in April about that supposed inevitability:
Connor McDavid will be named as the Oilers’ captain at the age of 19 next fall, one of the items that was deduced at general manager Peter Chiarelli’s season-ending press briefing Sunday. Asked if his team would have a captain next season where this year it did not, the GM responded quickly: “I would think so, that we would have a captain next year.”
“I think you see a lot of teams going toward not having a captain,” said Eberle. “I’m a strong believer in guys that lead by example. I’ve played with Connor and he’s an exceptional player and I think he’ll be the future of hockey. It doesn’t matter if he has [the captaincy], I have it — you just want a collective group of leaders. I think we do in Edmonton.
“Ultimately, one day, I think he will be our leader.”
Eberle is in the middle of teaching a hockey school in Calgary where kids are getting caught playing Pokemon Go off the ice.
“It’s a hot topic right now,” he said of the mobile game. “They’ve been catching a couple of kids [playing] Pokemon.
“You know what? I might have to [name] myself [as the Oiler who plays Pokemon the most],” said Eberle, who was born in 1990. “When I was a kid, Pokemon was a big thing. As soon as this came out, I got right on it. Once in a while when you’re on the golf course you turn it on to see if there’s anything out there.”