Numbers game: pass it on, Kevin

Robin Brownlee
July 05 2010 09:21AM

LOS ANGELES, CA - JUNE 25: President of Hockey Operations for the Edmonton Oilers, Kevin Lowe, looks on during the 2010 NHL Entry Draft at Staples Center on June 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

If Kevin Lowe has any sense of timing and drama, announcing Taylor Hall's first contract with the Edmonton Oilers won't be the only matter of business on the agenda at Rexall Place today.

Hall let the cat out of the bag when he told reporters yesterday at Commonwealth Stadium he expects to have his three-year, entry-level deal signed today, and that's something Bob Stauffer confirmed on TEAM 1260 this morning. The announcement will be made at noon.

The numbers on Hall's contract aside -- the allowable rookie maximum salary and bonuses under the CBA -- the digit I'm thinking about is No. 4, which, as everybody knows, is Lowe's old jersey number.

Could there be a better time for Lowe to hand over his old number, which hasn't been worn by anybody but him in Edmonton, to Hall in a symbolic gesture of passing the torch?

I think not.

Give it to the kid

Hall, 18, has already suggested he isn't going to ask for No. 4, out of respect for Lowe, the first player ever selected by the Oilers in the NHL Entry Draft. That's understandable. It's not like he's Rob Schremp.

Like I said this spring, it's up to Lowe, then, to make the gesture -- take the onus off the kid and offer Hall the jersey number he wore with the Windsor Spitfires and Team Canada.

In the broader scope of things, of course, it doesn't really matter what number Hall wears with the Oilers. Still, Lowe could make a splash by delivering his jersey along with that new contract today.

What better way to send a message? "History and tradition mean a lot to this organization, but you're the future, kid." "It's time for us to look ahead instead of back." Hall isn't going to fuss and make an issue of it, but Lowe should.

Why keep No. 4 in mothballs? It's not like it's headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame and, thus, the rafters at Rexall Place. Lowe was a very good player who won five Stanley Cups in Edmonton and another in New York with the Rangers, but he's not headed to the HHOF.

If Lowe wants to make a statement today, he should find out where Sparky Kulchisky hid his linen, dust it off and hand it over to Hall at high noon with that new contract today. There's a time and place for symbolism, and this is it.

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.
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#1 Matt Henderson
July 05 2010, 09:27AM
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Well said. I wont be bothered if Hall picks another number, but it would be nice to see the club cut more ties with its past.

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#2 jake
July 05 2010, 09:28AM
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I like the idea. A great way thread the past with the future.

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#3 misfit
July 05 2010, 09:30AM
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It would be a really cool gesture on Lowe's behalf if he offered it to him, but I also don't think he should be expected to. On a side note, I don't really like it when forwards wear numbers lower than 9. 4 just seems more like a defenseman's number to me.

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#4 shanetrain
July 05 2010, 09:31AM
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Nice post.

I guess you could make a tell about Kevin Lowe the man if he makes no attempt to grant Hall the number 4.

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#5 BingBong
July 05 2010, 09:34AM
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Great article, and I tend to agree with you. This really would be the PERFECT time to hand over the number, indicating how the future is the only that matters at this point.

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#6 smiliegirl15
July 05 2010, 09:36AM
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It would be total good PR for the Oilers to make a production of Lowe passing the torch as it were.

Wasn't it kind of a slap in the face to Horcoff when they presented Hall with a #10 jersey? Seriously, they couldn't use a number not used by someone currently on the team?

\/\/\/ Fair enough - that makes total sense.

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#7 knobert
July 05 2010, 09:37AM
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@smiliegirl15

10 was for the draft year nothing more to it

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#8 yegCopywriter
July 05 2010, 09:38AM
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smiliegirl15 wrote:

It would be total good PR for the Oilers to make a production of Lowe passing the torch as it were.

Wasn't it kind of a slap in the face to Horcoff when they presented Hall with a #10 jersey? Seriously, they couldn't use a number not used by someone currently on the team?

\/\/\/ Fair enough - that makes total sense.

All the jerseys were #10 at the draft, signifying 2010.

EDIT: People are on the ball this morning!

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#9 knobby
July 05 2010, 09:40AM
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The only act of class was when Hall made his comments about not worrying about the number on his back. I think it would be a great gesture on Lowe's part but don't expect it folks. He is the poster boy for the tradition of entitlement in the Oiler organization.

When has any Oiler exec. shown class at any time in the recent past?

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#10 Souby
July 05 2010, 09:43AM
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I agree RB, Lowe should pass the torch/number to Hall. To deliver the number along with the contract sends a positive message that this organization is moving forward instead of keeping a foot in the past.

The Oil need to do everything possible to help Hall and the rest of these young guys succeed, so if the jersey number helps accomplish this then I say c'mon Lowe, dust off #4 and give it to the kid!

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#11 Jimmer
July 05 2010, 09:45AM
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Mark Messier has already petitioned the NHL to block anyone drafted by the Oilers and Rangers next year to wear #11.

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#12 baggedmilk
July 05 2010, 09:47AM
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I'd love to see it happen, but I doubt he'll swallow his ego and get it done. I will be SHOCKED if they give Hall #4, regardless of whether they should or not.

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#13 OvenChicken8 - Team JSBM
July 05 2010, 09:48AM
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I absolutely agree. Murray never had to ask Kurri to wear #17... so why can't Hall grab #4 and run with it?

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#14 The Hall Way
July 05 2010, 09:50AM
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Maybe he will take 44. With Souray playing in Oklahoma, there will be no conflict.

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#15 Oil_Loc8or
July 05 2010, 09:54AM
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Robin do you honestly think the jersey number is a issue? You have wrote about this before. I think he won't ask or wear number 4.

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#16 Tracie
July 05 2010, 09:58AM
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#44 is bad luck! we should chuck that jersey in the garbage and never let anyone wear it!!! Ponger, Schremp, Souray...nuff said!

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#17 mighty mite
July 05 2010, 09:59AM
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My guess is he is saving it for Keegan, who I fear will be forced onto the Oilers (as he has been with the Oil Kings) to hold down the worst D man in the league position that he is currently holding in the WHL.

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#18 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
July 05 2010, 10:00AM
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smiliegirl15 wrote:

It would be total good PR for the Oilers to make a production of Lowe passing the torch as it were.

Wasn't it kind of a slap in the face to Horcoff when they presented Hall with a #10 jersey? Seriously, they couldn't use a number not used by someone currently on the team?

\/\/\/ Fair enough - that makes total sense.

still drunk from canada day?

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#19 Crackenbury
July 05 2010, 10:06AM
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I disagree completely. Look up at the rafters and tell me Lowe doesn't belong up there with the rest of the players from that team. 6 Stanley Cups, 1st ever NHL goal scored by an Oiler, 1st NHL draft pick, former coach, former gm.

It's one thing to break from tradition, but giving Hall #4 is a slap in the face of tradition. Brownlee, why such little respect for Lowe? Granted, he wasn't the best GM we've ever had, but that's a small portion of his history with the club.

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#20 doritogrande
July 05 2010, 10:09AM
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So many people it seems have forgotten that Kevin Lowe as a player before he was a below-average GM. He shouldn't have to have his name and number taken down from the rafters of Rexall just because we've got a new 18-year old who wore his jersey number for his CHL team. Lowe was an integral part of the Oilers on the ice in the 80s, and we would do well to remember his past contributions before demanding that his name and legacy be stripped from the confines of Rexall. Would anyone here ask that numbers 3, 9, 11, 17, 33 or 99 be offered up?

Hall said all the right things about not wanting #4 in respect for Kevin Lowe. He's worn the number in the past for his adoration of the great Bobby Orr. I'd think the chances of him being given 4 were he drafted by the Bruins instead would be less than zero. Hall has said he'd be taking a different number, so let's let him do that.

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#21 Tyler
July 05 2010, 10:11AM
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Why keep No. 4 in mothballs? It's not like it's headed to the Hockey Hall of Fame and, thus, the rafters at Rexall Place.

I've always expected 4 to be retired eventually, even assuming Lowe doesn't make the HHOF. While I'm not wild about Lowe's work as GM, he has a Cup final to his credit. He's been an Oiler longer than anyone else in a talent role at this stage I think (player/coach/GM), he was the first draft pick ever and he's always represented Edmonton well. He's the Jean Beliveau of the franchise.

It won't and shouldn't happen while he's active but I would assume that a year or two after he leaves the Oilers, there will be a big ceremony and his number will be retired. There really should be - whatever his flaws, he's been a cornerstone of the franchise in a way that even Messier and Gretzky can't claim. What's more, he's the guy who came home too, first as a player and then as a coach/management. Let Hall take some other number, just as long as it isn't 15.

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#22 Robin Brownlee
July 05 2010, 10:11AM
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Crackenbury wrote:

I disagree completely. Look up at the rafters and tell me Lowe doesn't belong up there with the rest of the players from that team. 6 Stanley Cups, 1st ever NHL goal scored by an Oiler, 1st NHL draft pick, former coach, former gm.

It's one thing to break from tradition, but giving Hall #4 is a slap in the face of tradition. Brownlee, why such little respect for Lowe? Granted, he wasn't the best GM we've ever had, but that's a small portion of his history with the club.

If you understood the Oilers traditions and conventions you speak of, you'd know that since Hamilton's No. 3 was retired under special circumstances, a place in the rafters at Rexall Place is reserved for the numbers of players inducted into the HHOF.

Jersey numbers only go up here after the get the call from the HHOF. Lowe isn't getting that call.

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#23 Mike Krushelnyski
July 05 2010, 10:13AM
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Maybe #4 has a sentimental meaning to Lowe. It does seem to be the number of hairs remaining on his head. When did that happen?!

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#24 the tikkr
July 05 2010, 10:14AM
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Tyler,

Well said.

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#25 Woogie
July 05 2010, 10:15AM
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@The Hall Way

ZING!

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#26 jeanshorts
July 05 2010, 10:17AM
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As long as he doesn't decide to wear the forever cursed, and soon to be vacant 44, I think we're good.

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#27 SkinnyD
July 05 2010, 10:18AM
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Why can't they raise Lowe's #4 to the rafters without retiring it? I could swear some of the older teams like the Habs and Rangers do that...could be wrong.

Lowe and Hall are 2 significant draft picks in the team's history - would be cool if they shared the number.

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#28 Quicksilver ballet
July 05 2010, 10:20AM
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It's refreshing to read an article that is not broken down into 20 different segments.

I believe Taylor has mentioned something about the number 19 before, Kevin will and should take this opportunity and formerly offer him his old number 4

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#29 magisterrex
July 05 2010, 10:22AM
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Much ado about nothing, IMO. Hall doesn't care, why try to make it an issue?

I don't see Kevin Lowe as a terrible, below-average GM, either. Such short memories people have around here. You're only as good as your last game, right?

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#30 Crackenbury
July 05 2010, 10:23AM
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@Robin Brownlee

I understand the Oilers recent history of tying into HHOF inductions. It's also my understanding the organization has already suggested retiring Lowe's number and it was Lowe who said no to it, as long as he was still actively involved with the Oilers.

I don't understand the purpose of this article, other than to stir things up. This isn't the first time it has been brought up either. What's the point?

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#31 No Clue
July 05 2010, 10:30AM
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doritogrande wrote:

So many people it seems have forgotten that Kevin Lowe as a player before he was a below-average GM. He shouldn't have to have his name and number taken down from the rafters of Rexall just because we've got a new 18-year old who wore his jersey number for his CHL team. Lowe was an integral part of the Oilers on the ice in the 80s, and we would do well to remember his past contributions before demanding that his name and legacy be stripped from the confines of Rexall. Would anyone here ask that numbers 3, 9, 11, 17, 33 or 99 be offered up?

Hall said all the right things about not wanting #4 in respect for Kevin Lowe. He's worn the number in the past for his adoration of the great Bobby Orr. I'd think the chances of him being given 4 were he drafted by the Bruins instead would be less than zero. Hall has said he'd be taking a different number, so let's let him do that.

Try and keep up doritogrande, #4 is NOT in the rafters at Rexall! Nor is 33, but I'm guessing that was a typo. The only thing keeping Hall out of jersey #4 is Lowe.

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#32 Wazzle
July 05 2010, 10:31AM
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doritogrande wrote:

So many people it seems have forgotten that Kevin Lowe as a player before he was a below-average GM. He shouldn't have to have his name and number taken down from the rafters of Rexall just because we've got a new 18-year old who wore his jersey number for his CHL team. Lowe was an integral part of the Oilers on the ice in the 80s, and we would do well to remember his past contributions before demanding that his name and legacy be stripped from the confines of Rexall. Would anyone here ask that numbers 3, 9, 11, 17, 33 or 99 be offered up?

Hall said all the right things about not wanting #4 in respect for Kevin Lowe. He's worn the number in the past for his adoration of the great Bobby Orr. I'd think the chances of him being given 4 were he drafted by the Bruins instead would be less than zero. Hall has said he'd be taking a different number, so let's let him do that.

Ummm, Lowe's #4 is not in the rafters at Rexall, also you asked "Would anyone here ask that numbers 3, 9, 11, 17, 33 or 99 be offered up?" Number 33 is not retired and is currently worn by Big Steve Mac as an homage to his favorite Oiler Big Marty Mc. You should also maybe have #7 in your list as well. IMO it's up to Kevin Lowe the player not anyone else, not even Keven Lowe, President of Hockey Operations.

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#33 magisterrex
July 05 2010, 10:31AM
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Crackenbury wrote:

I understand the Oilers recent history of tying into HHOF inductions. It's also my understanding the organization has already suggested retiring Lowe's number and it was Lowe who said no to it, as long as he was still actively involved with the Oilers.

I don't understand the purpose of this article, other than to stir things up. This isn't the first time it has been brought up either. What's the point?

That's my memory of events, too. #4 goes up to the rafters the year that KLowe retires from the org, and it'll be a Messier-like ceremony, regardless of recent history.

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#34 Reagan
July 05 2010, 10:34AM
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Already have a #4 Hall Jersey Hanging in the closet...

Old News...

:)

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#35 Al
July 05 2010, 10:35AM
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Clear this up for me, is #7 retired for the Oilers?

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#36 esa tikkanen
July 05 2010, 10:35AM
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robin,

while this is off topic I am wondering if you had heard the rumour from Ryan Rishaug's twitter that the Oilers were considering signing Rob Niedermayer, and if you had heard that?? If so, what do you think of that?

I like the idea of that type of player although I am not sure how good he is any more. Personally I would prefer Dominic Moore as maybe Niedermayer's tank is empty at 35, 36 in December.

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#37 Wazzle
July 05 2010, 10:37AM
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Al wrote:

Clear this up for me, is #7 retired for the Oilers?

Paul Coffey sir!

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#38 Rick
July 05 2010, 10:37AM
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I don't want to be a downer but I think it would be a mistake to give Hall #4, alteast for right now.

As it sits #4 has significant meaning in the organization and although Hall is coming in with a lot of shine and hype no one actually knows what kind of a pro he will actually be or even what kind of longevity he will have with this club.

It would be a real shame to dummy up the significance of the number by giving it the kid only to regret in 3 or 4 years time.

Why not let him break in to the league with an alternate number and then offer it to him when he shows he is worthy of it and indicates he could be committed to the team beyond his development years?

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#39 oilfan73
July 05 2010, 10:38AM
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smiliegirl15 wrote:

It would be total good PR for the Oilers to make a production of Lowe passing the torch as it were.

Wasn't it kind of a slap in the face to Horcoff when they presented Hall with a #10 jersey? Seriously, they couldn't use a number not used by someone currently on the team?

\/\/\/ Fair enough - that makes total sense.

yeah! and seguin got #10 too. and gudbranson. and johansen....... messier is gonna be mad next year when they start handing out 11's

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#40 mike
July 05 2010, 10:38AM
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Very well said, Tyler. Lowe's total history with the organization is more than enough for Katz to raise his sweater when he retires.

The best scenario? Hall plays with another number for his entry level contract. When Hall signs a 7+ year deal give him #4. The Oilers retire #4 with a Lowe jersey and a Hall jersey when they are both done.

Lots of precedent:

#12 Dickie Moore and Yvan Cournoyer #16 Elmer Lach and Henri Richard #3 Pierre Pilote and Keith Magnuson #9 Andy Bathgate and Adam Graves

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#41 Quicksilver ballet
July 05 2010, 10:42AM
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Must be a difficult time for Kevin Lowe. If Taylor accepts his #4 it severs any conversations in regards to the does he or doesn't he belong up in the rafters with his good friends. I do think there are enough special circumstances here to warrant having his number up there with the others but today Kevin will/should take this opportunity and close this chapter.

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#42 Dan the Man
July 05 2010, 10:48AM
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SkinnyD wrote:

Why can't they raise Lowe's #4 to the rafters without retiring it? I could swear some of the older teams like the Habs and Rangers do that...could be wrong.

Lowe and Hall are 2 significant draft picks in the team's history - would be cool if they shared the number.

OTHER teams do retire Jersey's without the player making the HHOF but the Oilers haven't (aside from Hamilton's #3).

Teams like the Canucks or some others do it because they don't have any true Hall of Famers so they retire guys like Linden and made up jerseys like #7 for the 7th fan.

The Oilers just have a higher standard.

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#43 Smokey
July 05 2010, 10:50AM
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Kevin Lowe will not make the hall, but his committment to Edmonton is as great as any player or individual, if not greater. He was a player, coach, GM, president. His number will be raised because of all his contributions to the organization. It would not diminish anything of what he has done in this community. If anything it would be an amazing demonstration of respect for a young man who will be the face of this organization. I hope it happens, and if it doesn`t its just a number.

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#44 Karth
July 05 2010, 10:50AM
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@Crackenbury

well said! Put yourself in Lowe's shoes- if you had 5 rings with one team wouldnt you want to receive some recognition for your contribution by being in the rafters if not in the HHOF. If you really want to move on from the past wouldn't it be more logical to choose a different # versus being tied in to the past. Also, lets not put the horse before the carriage- Hall hasnt won anything at the NHL level. He is just starting a new career and could very easily choose a new number. Hell if Gretzky can change #'s then so can Hall.

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#45 BUCK75
July 05 2010, 10:50AM
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I think Lowe should give it to him. As a joke, he could just do the white hockey tape over Lowe with a sparpie Hall scribbled on it.

It would be moving forward, and a funny moment.

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#46 Dan the Man
July 05 2010, 10:52AM
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Has anyone else seen people around town wearing #10 Hall jerseys?

I've seen at least 3 so far and I get that it's his draft year but he obviously won't be wearing that number so why waste your money?

I guess I shouldn't care what other people do with their money but it seems pretty dumb to me.

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#47 Place name here
July 05 2010, 10:54AM
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What a total load of garbage... though I understand the excitement that surrounds our first number one overall pick in Taylor Hall, can anyone explain to me what exactly he has proven in the NHL? Are we so certain that he will make the team this year, or that if he does, he will live up to the far reaches of expectations that many have already set for him? Who is to say that after his first contract he pulls the chute? What on earth has he accomplished in the league or on this hockey club that would allow him to wear the number of the OIL's very first NHL captain, Kevin Lowe?

On a hockey team where the fans scream of no one wanting to play in the City of Edmonton, many are so quick to relinquish ties with a true champion that stayed the longest and remains in our community as well as with his first NHL team. You may not like his work as a GM, but the last time I checked, the leagues GM's don't where numbers.

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#48 Crackenbury
July 05 2010, 10:59AM
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If Hall receives #4 today it will be because Lowe insisted on it. Hall has shown himself to have a great deal of respect for the game. I doubt very much he would accept #4 if offered. He'll pick another number that holds some significance and begin his adult career with that. 19 sounds like a good forward number that he can make his own with the Oilers.

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#49 K
July 05 2010, 11:01AM
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Hall said in his presser yesterday that he wouldn't take #4 out of respect for KLowe & the fans (or some such thing). So if Kevin offers it to him today, what is the kid supposed to do? Publicly say no or be forced to wear a # that he doesn't seem thrilled to wear here? If I was him, I wouldn't want to wear a # that has so much history behind it, I'd rather start fresh & make my own history with a new #...no?

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#50 Wazzle
July 05 2010, 11:03AM
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Place name here wrote:

What a total load of garbage... though I understand the excitement that surrounds our first number one overall pick in Taylor Hall, can anyone explain to me what exactly he has proven in the NHL? Are we so certain that he will make the team this year, or that if he does, he will live up to the far reaches of expectations that many have already set for him? Who is to say that after his first contract he pulls the chute? What on earth has he accomplished in the league or on this hockey club that would allow him to wear the number of the OIL's very first NHL captain, Kevin Lowe?

On a hockey team where the fans scream of no one wanting to play in the City of Edmonton, many are so quick to relinquish ties with a true champion that stayed the longest and remains in our community as well as with his first NHL team. You may not like his work as a GM, but the last time I checked, the leagues GM's don't where numbers.

Kevin Lowe was not the Oilers first NHL captain! Draft pick yes, captain no. By my count he was 6th.

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