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  • Writer's pictureJoe Pace

New England Sports 366, #106: Hal Gill

During my senior year at UNH, a buddy and I took a couple of spins in the broadcast booth doing play-by-play and color commentary on WUNH for Wildcat hockey games. I don't think we were very technically proficient, but I like to believe our enthusiasm made up for that. One of those games was against Providence College at the Whitt, and if you asked me which Friar seemed most likely to skate in 1,000 NHL games, I would have guessed speedy center Mike Omicioli. That guy was all over the ice.

I would not have guessed Hal Gill.

Gill was on the ice a lot too, but mainly around or behind the blue line. He was massive, towering over the other players at 6'7". But he was slow, a lumbering giant of a defenseman, more size than skill. As an amateur broadcaster, I cherished that absurd height as a quick identifier. "Big Hall Gill" became a recurrent part of my call that night.

Gill (a native of Concord, MA) was drafted by Boston in the eighth round of the 1993 draft, and joined the Bruins after graduation for the 1997-98 season. He'd lace them up for 626 games in the black and gold, including 68 as a rookie. He wasn't an offensive threat, with 20 goals in those eight Boston seasons, and he wasn't a very good defenseman either. But his skilled improved and he stuck around, working on his strongest suit - his ability to clear the puck. The guy had a way of getting the puck on his stick and sending it out of his own zone, which he did a lot. Hal Gill abused more boards than a karate master.

Gill hung around for a long time in Boston, from 1997 to 2006. After his Bruins tenure he played for a few other teams, notably winning a Stanley Cup in 2009 with the Penguins. Overall he skated in over 1100 NHL games, which ties him for 179th in league history.

Maybe someone can rustle up the old tapes of those WUNH broadcasts. Big Hall Gill, indeed.

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