Fall for Hall: dust off that linen, sparky

Robin Brownlee
March 14 2010 01:08PM

IIHF World Junior Championship - Canada v USA - Gold Medal Game

When a team is as profoundly flawed as the Edmonton Oilers are, symbolism only goes so far. Still, as I watched the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Oilers 6-4 for fun Saturday, I couldn't help but think a little bit couldn't hurt right now.

Every time CBC's camera's panned the Oilers brass box at the Air Canada Centre to show president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Steve Tambellini and scout Morey Gare in various degrees of chagrin over the embarrassment that is their hockey club, I thought about what Lowe should do now that 30th place is secure.

His resignation aside (won't happen, no matter how much evidence there is that it should), Lowe could at least make a symbolic gesture between now and training camp next year. Call it a move signifying this franchise is looking to the future instead of clinging to fading glories of the past. A passing of the torch, if you will.

Assuming the NHL draft lottery doesn't go sideways, the Oilers keep the No. 1 pick in June and they select Taylor Hall -- I believe he's the guy they want just a tick ahead of centre Tyler Seguin -- Lowe should tell equipment man Lyle Kulchisky to pull his No. 4 jersey out of mothballs.

Then, Lowe should give it to the kid.

Pass it on

Hall wears No. 4 for the Windsor Spitfires, and it's a number he's worn for Team Canada in international competition. While an oldtimer like me thinks that's a goofy choice for a forward, it's Hall's digit of choice, at least in recent seasons -- he wore No. 19 for several seasons before graduating to the OHL.

It's also, as everybody knows, the number Lowe wore during his playing career with the Oilers. Lowe, the first ever player drafted by the Oilers, is the only player to wear it here. That should change.

While Lowe's jersey has never been officially retired by the Oilers, let's just say it hasn't been available to other players since he hung up his skates. Sparky's never pulled No. 4 off the rack and said, "Here, kid. Try this on for size." Same with Mark Messier's No. 11, which hangs in the rafters at Rexall Place, Al Hamilton's No. 3 and, of course, No. 99.

Call it a sign of reverence and respect, and there's certainly a place for that, but numbers worn by Messier and Lowe were never made available even before they were officially retired, although others worn by great Edmonton players have been.

A new era

Glenn Anderson is in the Hall of Fame, but he's shared his No. 9 with Bill Guerin, Mike Watt, Ralph Intranuovo, Shayne Corson, Bernie Nicholls and Jim Harrison.

Likewise Grant Fuhr, who shared No. 31 with Curtis Joseph, Fred Brathwaite and Eddie Mio. Jarri Kurri's No. 17 has been worn by Scott Thornton, Cam Connor and Rem Murray, who gave it up when the great Finn's linen was lifted to the rafters.

Obviously, Lowe offering his number to Hall won't fill the holes on the roster. It won't make the goaltending or the penalty killing better. It won't convince anybody to take Ethan Moreau, like a buy-out might. It won't make Shawn Horcoff's contract a bargain or change the fact this team has missed the playoffs for four straight seasons.

But, as symbolism goes, having the first player ever drafted by the Oilers pass on his number to a kid who has a chance to be this franchise's next great player could signify a real change in philosophy.

By letting go of a dusty convention, Lowe could show fans this is an organization willing to resist clinging to a reverence for the now-distant Boys on the Bus era and embrace the promise of the future.

That's long overdue.

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
Avatar
#101 Petr's Jofa
March 15 2010, 09:22AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Matt Henderson

They area all nice prospects to have, but they were drafter at 6th (Gagner) 11th (MPS) and 22nd (Eberle). I don't think any of them were not considered blue chip. Ganger stock soared after he was drafted at the superseries and Eberle has made a name for himself post-draft in the world juniors. I don't think many here expected any of them to be can miss when they were drafted and less whould have expected them to jump in imdeiately to make an impact.

I'm not saying they aren't good prospects. I am saying that they weren't blue chippers. So when madjam makes a statement like "Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers" He's wrong. We knew these guys would take time when Edmonton drafted them.

Avatar
#102 Matt Henderson
March 15 2010, 09:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Petr's Jofa

I was just saying, those 3 guys have been considered "Blue Chippers" within the last 4 years. Yes, Eberle has earned that post-draft, but MPS was pegged to go well before he did when we grabbed him. When MPS slipped I remember guys like Maguire freaking out (as he usually does).

So yeah, they didnt all start as blue chippers, but since we started missing the playoffs the Oilers have managed to draft pretty well despite actually trying to be a good team.

If the Oilers have slowly been falling from 8th in the west to the bottom of the league, then on the way down they've managed to pick up some good players in the draft. That's part of the reason why I dont think the rebuild will take 5+ years to do. This isnt like Calgary, where the cupboards are literally bare. The Oilers already have a good group of prospects and young NHL players that are coming up.*

*read optimism

Avatar
#103 madjam
March 15 2010, 09:45AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

You might want to add Plante and Nash to that list as well- the year we had 3 first rounders and gave up an early second rounder needlessly to obtain Nash in first round if i recall correctly . O'Mark perhaps ? Who knows for sure if Oilers will even keep Cogs/ Gagner going into next season seeing as they are RFA,s and are not resigned as yet ? Maybe, neither will even want to be . I'm just stating we have been in this rebuilding/retooling mode for a long time already without very much success . I have not written any of them off , but i don't see very many of them in our lineup and making much of a contribution to becoming a contender anytime soon either .

Avatar
#104 quicksilver ballet
March 15 2010, 09:52AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

I think Barry Stafford should just give him #4 without even asking Lowe, it hasen't been retired for a reason to date i'm sure. The players are the most valued assets in the organization, the rest of the positions you can you hire the most qualified applicants.

There's so much support for the coaches (Usually 4 per team) and the GM.s now (assistant GM, capologists etc) it's time to get rid of these patronage positions, or is this another Semenko scenario we have going on here?

Avatar
#105 Matt Henderson
March 15 2010, 10:15AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@madjam

Gagner is most definitely part of the plan moving forward. The guy is on track for a very solid career.

Theyre RFAs. It costs almost nothing to retain their rights. They're staying here.

Avatar
#106 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
March 15 2010, 10:19AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
madjam wrote:

We have been rebuilding/retooling for last 3-4 seasons through the draft already , and where are we today - 30th place . So much for something new ! Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers .

sarcastic or just idiotic???

Avatar
#107 Petr's Jofa
March 15 2010, 10:20AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Matt Henderson

I don't disagree at all with what you are saying. The drafting has been very good lately and I do believe there is hope for the future.

However I disagree that any one of the Oilers draft choice was a blue chip prospect and should have stepping in and made an immediate impact. I believe that they are all progressing as they were expected to (if not faster) which is why I called out madjam when he "Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers"

Avatar
#108 Petr's Jofa
March 15 2010, 10:31AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
madjam wrote:

You might want to add Plante and Nash to that list as well- the year we had 3 first rounders and gave up an early second rounder needlessly to obtain Nash in first round if i recall correctly . O'Mark perhaps ? Who knows for sure if Oilers will even keep Cogs/ Gagner going into next season seeing as they are RFA,s and are not resigned as yet ? Maybe, neither will even want to be . I'm just stating we have been in this rebuilding/retooling mode for a long time already without very much success . I have not written any of them off , but i don't see very many of them in our lineup and making much of a contribution to becoming a contender anytime soon either .

Add Plante and Nash? Both of them were considered projects when they were drafted. Do you even know what a bluechip prospect is?

"Blue chip" players have proven themselves to be amongst the best at their respective positions in their sports and are more sought after than other players. They are typically perceived as "can't miss" prospects who are desired by most organizations. Blue chip athletes are likely to have an immediate impact on teams that acquire them and have proven skills rather than speculative or untapped potential.

Now here are the write-ups of the various Oiler draft picks from the last 4 years. Not one of these players drafted was considered blue chip.

2009 -http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/11350/oilers2009_draft_review/

2008 - http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/10463/oilers2008_draft_review/

2007 - http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/9794/oilers2007_draft_review/

2006 - http://www.hockeysfuture.com/articles/8933/oilers2006_draft_review/

PS - Rumour I heard was that Edmonton found out that the Coyotes were going to take Nash and that's why Edmonton traded up to pick him.

Avatar
#109 Dodd
March 15 2010, 12:37PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

So we are officially discounting Lowe's contributions as a player because of his failures as a GM/ President?

I'm mad at him too, but you said it yourself, Brownlee; it won't fix anything about the team.

Avatar
#110 BUCK75
March 15 2010, 01:26PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@madjam

Look at the history before you write garbage like this. In 2007 Mikael Backlund, David Perron & Max Pacioretty are the only guys selected after Nash & Plante that have even played in the league. Nobody selected after Eberle has played a game in the league yet. We didn't have a pick higher because of the Penner signing.

It's a little early to write off kids who haven't even played in the NHL. Tough to write Plante off after what 2 games?!?!

Avatar
#111 Rob
March 15 2010, 02:28PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

If Lowe had left the organization at the end of his career and stayed away I would have a totally different outlook on #4. The way he has wiped his ass since taking over as GM will maybe make Hall have second thoughts about inheriting the bad karma of that number. Lowe has ripped a huge whole in his reputation as far as I'm concerned.

Avatar
#112 Dan the Man
March 15 2010, 03:02PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
1
cheers
Rob wrote:

If Lowe had left the organization at the end of his career and stayed away I would have a totally different outlook on #4. The way he has wiped his ass since taking over as GM will maybe make Hall have second thoughts about inheriting the bad karma of that number. Lowe has ripped a huge whole in his reputation as far as I'm concerned.

I guess you've forgotten about the great trades he made in 05/06 that got the team to the final?

Avatar
#113 Senator Theo
March 15 2010, 03:04PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Rob wrote:

If Lowe had left the organization at the end of his career and stayed away I would have a totally different outlook on #4. The way he has wiped his ass since taking over as GM will maybe make Hall have second thoughts about inheriting the bad karma of that number. Lowe has ripped a huge whole in his reputation as far as I'm concerned.

How much have you learned about the way Lowe wipes his ass? Is that another reference the the "huge whole" (sic) in his reputation?

Avatar
#115 dunciano
March 15 2010, 08:05PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@Petr's Jofa

Thanks for the links

Avatar
#116 dunciano
March 15 2010, 08:09PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
Petr's Jofa wrote:

Even with a last place finish there is only a 48% chance of getting the 1st overall pick. So shouldn't this Hall/Seguin debate actually be deciding who to chose with the #2 pick. In the fall it was Hall, Seguin, & Fowler as possible #1 picks. Has Fowler fallen so far that there is no debate left between who to chose at be it Hall/Fowler or Seguin/Fowler?

Speaking of which, when is the draft lottery actually held?

It's held the last night of the regular season isn't it?

Oh wait, is it the opening night of the playoffs?

They do it on TSN anyway.

Avatar
#117 madjam
March 15 2010, 08:30PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

Look at all the first rounders we have had thru the past 4-5 seasons and how many have been good successes including the ones we have traded for besides our own or gotten rid of. Pitkanen , Smid ,Torres , Lupul , O'Marra . Nilsson , Dubnyk, Schremp, Pouliot ,Grebs, R. Whitney ,etc.. Coupled with our own picks thats an awful lot of early first round picks that have not panned out very well considering . We have been this route for a long time already, and i'm sorry but i don't see a lot of success we are having . I haven't written them all off as some are inclined to believe - but i have not written to many in as yet , and wonder just how many will be shipped away before they develop and become an asset on a contending club .

Avatar
#118 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
March 15 2010, 09:11PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers
madjam wrote:

Look at all the first rounders we have had thru the past 4-5 seasons and how many have been good successes including the ones we have traded for besides our own or gotten rid of. Pitkanen , Smid ,Torres , Lupul , O'Marra . Nilsson , Dubnyk, Schremp, Pouliot ,Grebs, R. Whitney ,etc.. Coupled with our own picks thats an awful lot of early first round picks that have not panned out very well considering . We have been this route for a long time already, and i'm sorry but i don't see a lot of success we are having . I haven't written them all off as some are inclined to believe - but i have not written to many in as yet , and wonder just how many will be shipped away before they develop and become an asset on a contending club .

Nice side step, your comment was about the past 4 years DP's:

"Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers"

Now you're talking about guys picked 10 years ago by other teams.

Avatar
#119 Petr's Jofa
March 16 2010, 06:16AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
Cheers
0
cheers

@madjam

What didn't pan out? All the guys you listed are playing in the NHL except for O'Marra.

Comments are closed for this article.