NASHVILLE – When the Pittsburgh Penguins acquired Hal Gill at the trade deadline in 2008, Hal Gill was viewed as a final piece to their puzzle. There as some similarities four years later, as the Nashville Predators hope Gill can be a solid coup for the postseason.
It’s safe to say Gill is now a veteran of the trade deadline. On deadline day in 2008, he was traded to Pittsburgh. On Friday, just 10 days before the trading comes to a stop, he was moved from Montreal to Nashville. However, the adjustment is hard for a family man like Gill, no matter how many times you get traded.
“It’s never easy. It’s something that is a part of the game and you have to deal with it,” said Gill, who has a wife and three kids staying put in Montreal. “The nice part is every other day you’re playing a game, so you can focus on the hockey. On off days you try to take care of what you can, talk to the family as much as you can and make sure they’re okay.
There are adjustments to be made on the ice, too, for Gill.
“You’re learning a new system and you’re learning some different things. I’m a little older now; maybe I understand the game a little more,” he said. “It’s still a learning curve and you have to learn some new things and adjust.”
The Predators acquired Gill not only for his penalty killing prowess, but his experience as well. Gill has played in 69 playoff games in the last four years (105 in his career). He also has something on his resume that no other Predator has – a Stanley Cup.
“I don’t think it’s a secret what my game is and what my strengths are – kill penalties, be strong, move the puck quickly, use my reach, try to control the front of the net. I don’t think that is too far off of what (the coaching staff) expects from me (in Nashville).”
Last week, Predators GM David Poile described the 6’7” defenseman as a “missing ingredient” to the lineup. Head coach Barry Trotz likes the different elements of what Gill can bring to the table. Overall, it’s a solid addition at this time of year for a team that thinks it can make a serious push come playoff time.
“It adds a lot of depth to our defense,” said Mike Fisher, who was Nashville’s deadline acquisition a year ago. “Being able to have him out there against some solid teams who can bring some solid lines – instead of just Sutes and Webs – it will give us a little flexibility. He does a lot of good things defensively and is tough to play against.
“He’s played a lot of games, has won a Cup and has a lot of experience. That’s huge. I think he fills a hole here – a big body, good defensively. He’s a great addition for us and will help us in the playoffs.”
The Preds hope Gill can make as big an impact as he did in 2008 and 2009 with the Penguins. Gill and Rob Scuderi were the Penguins’ shutdown pairing for both playoff runs, which resulted in back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup final and one victory.
At the time they acquired Gill the Penguins were Stanley Cup contenders, but were young and had yet to breakthrough in the playoffs. Gill sees some similarities between the Penguins then and the Predators now, and he hopes he can experience the same on-ice success.
“This is a good team to be a part of right now. It’s exciting,” Gill said. “We have a lot of opportunities here. Hopefully I can help out and do some of the little things that help us get a little better.
“When I went to Pittsburgh it was a young team with a lot of skill, a lot of talent and a lot of guys that wanted to make their name. We were able to do that. We were able to fit the pieces together to make good runs in the playoffs and to eventually win.
“Hopefully that’s something I can help out with here.”
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