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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#51 BUCK75
July 05 2010, 11:08AM
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@K

He just doesn't want to be a dick. There is a big difference between demanding a number & being given a number.

It probably doesn't matter much to him, after all he is getting to play in the NHL. But it would say something pretty huge about the franchise's commitment to him if he will be the second player in franchise history to be able to wear the number.

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#52 Quicksilver ballet
July 05 2010, 11:12AM
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Correct me if i'm wrong but didn't Al Hamilton wear the C and retire 25'ish games into the Oilers first NHL season? I think Ron Chipperfield took over before handing it over to Lee Fogolin.

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#53 Ender
July 05 2010, 11:19AM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

Interesting tidbit, though, that could blow my angle even if the Oilers do take Hall. I just got off the phone with chief scout Stu MacGregor and he told me Hall's favourite number is 19. He's not sure how Hall ended up with No. 4 in recent seasons, but he wore No. 19 coming up and he likes it enough that it's part of his e-mail address.

K wrote:

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?

Quote A + Quote B = Hall should wear #19.

Lowe may not make the HHoF, but the jersey belongs in the past. Hate Lowe for the mistakes he has made, ok, but respect him as well for everything he has done for the franchise over the course of his lifetime.

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#54 madjam
July 05 2010, 11:20AM
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Use to be for many a year all the offensive stars wore NBR.9 . It was significant . I prefer player to choose a number they prefer as most are somewhat superstitious .

If Hall would like NBR .4 , then let him have it as sweater NBR. 04 or #004 . Maybe he would like # 007 ? Sweater numbers are important if only from a superstitious standpoint .

I never liked anyone tempting fate or superstition by wearing NBR . 13 on team . Is this why you see no deck 13 on cruise ships , etc.?

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#55 jeanshorts
July 05 2010, 11:20AM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

Correct me if i'm wrong but didn't Al Hamilton wear the C and retire 25'ish games into the Oilers first NHL season? I think Ron Chipperfield took over before handing it over to Lee Fogolin.

Yeah Hamilton was the first captain in franchise history (WHA). Chipperfield was the first NHL captain if I remember correctly.

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#56 Place name here
July 05 2010, 11:20AM
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Wazzle wrote:

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

You are correct, it should have read Kevin Lowe, the "OIL's first number one pick". Pnh

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#57 Team Hall
July 05 2010, 11:20AM
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RB, I respect your views and you are a very connected guy. (Seguin pick aside, jk) I have to disagree politely with you on this one. Isn't that a lot of pressure to put on the kid? You must live up to your billing or we look stupid for giving you this number? Why not wait till the kid is top 10 in scoring and then give it to him? I mean, if by some miracle the kid flames out, then won't we look silly for giving him the #4? He is an unproven commodity at this point. A lot of potential, but unproven. Just my take, for what its worth.

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#58 Jamie B.
July 05 2010, 11:23AM
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knobert wrote:

10 was for the draft year nothing more to it

The dumbest part was that they SOLD Hall jerseys with #10 on it. They gave away one hundred of them at the draft party, and I guess that's alright if it commemorates the draft, but who would spend $200 on a jersey he's never going to wear again? I can just imagine all the comments you'd have to deal with if you wore that to a game at Rexall.

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#59 K
July 05 2010, 11:24AM
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@ BUCK75

True on both accounts, but would you want the weight of that history over your head? What if he doesn't stay here after his entry level deal? How does that look on the organization? What if KLowe resigns while Hall still plays for the Oilers & the Oilers want to hang #4? Does Hall give it up then? Just let the # sit in mothballs, who cares, its just a #?

It sounds like KLowe has offered him the # - whether he did or didn't shouldn't matter to us as fans. Personally, I don't care what # he wears, as long as he wears one & makes it 'his'.

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#60 Crackenbury
July 05 2010, 11:24AM
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Kevin: Taylor, I'd like you to take my old #4.

Taylor: No Mr. Lowe, that's your number. I don't want it.

Kevin: I insist, I'd be proud to see you skating around Rexall in my old number.

Taylor: Thanks but the answer is no. Your number is going to the rafters one day and I plan on joining you there somewhere down the line. Number 19 sounds good to me.

Kevin: Thanks Taylor, you're a good kid.

Taylor: No problem. How late does Whyte Avenue go?

Kevin: Here we go again!

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#61 BBOil
July 05 2010, 11:31AM
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Is this really a topic of discussion?

Lowe will eventually be in the rafters, so if Hall gets #4 now, does he give it up when Lowe's banner gets raised?

Heck, if we want some symbolism that he is the future why don't we just make him Captain right now?

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#62 Mike Modano's Dog
July 05 2010, 11:32AM
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Enough with dissing smiliegirl15, okay?

Given she didn't know that the number was given for the year, rather than the number he was to wear, makes it a fair question. Some people here have already answered her question politely so there's no need to pile on.

I would say to keep posting and asking questions, even if you don't have all the answers.

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#63 Jon
July 05 2010, 11:35AM
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I've read elsewhere that it wasn't Lowe holding back people from wearing #4 and that he wouldn't care if someone else wore it, but instead it was other management and training staff who wouldn't give out #4 to anyone out of their respect to Lowe.

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#64 Petr's Jofa
July 05 2010, 11:58AM
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Ender wrote:

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Interesting tidbit, though, that could blow my angle even if the Oilers do take Hall. I just got off the phone with chief scout Stu MacGregor and he told me Hall's favourite number is 19. He's not sure how Hall ended up with No. 4 in recent seasons, but he wore No. 19 coming up and he likes it enough that it's part of his e-mail address.

K wrote:

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?

Quote A + Quote B = Hall should wear #19.

Lowe may not make the HHoF, but the jersey belongs in the past. Hate Lowe for the mistakes he has made, ok, but respect him as well for everything he has done for the franchise over the course of his lifetime.

Has anyone checked with O'Sullivan to make sure he's ok with Hall pulling his number out of storage?

Edit: New York Post reporting Kovy to NJ ($60 mil for 7 years = $8.57/yr)

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=326655

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#65 Archaeologuy
July 05 2010, 12:02PM
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Petr's Jofa wrote:

Has anyone checked with O'Sullivan to make sure he's ok with Hall pulling his number out of storage?

Edit: New York Post reporting Kovy to NJ ($60 mil for 7 years = $8.57/yr)

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=326655

O'Sullivan may have worn that number, but I think it's fair to say it was never played in. The number should still be minty fresh.

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#66 BGH
July 05 2010, 12:09PM
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Why not do what some other organizations do and retire the jersey and not the number.

The Oilers could have 2 sections in the rafters. The first one, where they currently are, are for HOF's and the number is retired never to be worn again.

At the other end, they could hang jerseys for important people to the organization who never made it to the hall. These numbers could be worn again.

Best of both worlds.

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#67 bigrroberto
July 05 2010, 12:10PM
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@Archaeologuy

That's funny right there... LoL

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#68 bigrroberto
July 05 2010, 12:13PM
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BGH wrote:

Why not do what some other organizations do and retire the jersey and not the number.

The Oilers could have 2 sections in the rafters. The first one, where they currently are, are for HOF's and the number is retired never to be worn again.

At the other end, they could hang jerseys for important people to the organization who never made it to the hall. These numbers could be worn again.

Best of both worlds.

To add on that...

Instead of putting their number they wore while playing with the organization they could put the total number of years of service to the organization. IE:

Hall 1 Years

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#69 BigE91
July 05 2010, 12:14PM
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#4 or #19 doesn't really matter as long as it isn't #44 that number is cursed. Pronger, Schremp and Souray, talk about bad vibes.

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#70 R.A. Slapshotzky
July 05 2010, 12:16PM
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Let Hall decide.

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#71 bigrroberto
July 05 2010, 12:18PM
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TSN.ca reports Hall signed the 3yr 900k/year deal. They do not report anything on the jersey number. My guess is he'll wear something else this year.

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#72 Petr's Jofa
July 05 2010, 12:23PM
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bigrroberto wrote:

TSN.ca reports Hall signed the 3yr 900k/year deal. They do not report anything on the jersey number. My guess is he'll wear something else this year.

Oh gawd I hope your wrong. I really hope he wears a jersey.

*Runs away giggling*

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#73 R.A. Slapshotzky
July 05 2010, 12:33PM
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@Petr's Jofa

How bout 85 ?

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#74 Jamie B.
July 05 2010, 12:45PM
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R.A. Slapshotzky wrote:

How bout 85 ?

Liam Reddox objects, sir!!

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#75 BBOil
July 05 2010, 12:48PM
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So if Kovy stays in NJ, and they have to shed salary, is there a chance we could make a move.

Wouldn't mind seeing Zajac in Oiler silks. He's a proven NHL center with really good numbers. At 25, and a cap hit just under 4mil for the next 3 yrs he may fit the bill of our top center.

EDIT: Nevermind, he wears 19, and POS has it with the potential for Hall to have second dibs.

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#76 Archaeologuy
July 05 2010, 12:51PM
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http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/story/?id=326661

No Boughner for Asst Coach here in e-town, scooped up by Columbus

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#77 Stevens
July 05 2010, 01:02PM
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I like Brownlee, but he's way off here. Hall hasn't grown up wearing this jersey, just the last couple years. This is the same entitlement to young players who haven't earned anything yet that gave us Nilsson making six million dollars. Yes sometimes this organization dwells too much on the past, but an appreciation of your history is important. What if Hall wore 17, would we take Kurri out of the rafters? It's just a number. Hall doesn't care. Most fans don't really care. This is a media/message-board created non-issue.

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#78 Tapdog
July 05 2010, 01:05PM
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I agree that KLowe should offer up the number! He was a great foot soldier and leader of this franchise but his career is not HHOF status and I am sorry but I do not know if his number is worthy of the rafters here!

Klowe, you have always been an Oiler thru and thru so step up to the plate here. You offering Taylor your number would validate everything and lift your jersey to the rafters! By the way, I would not expect Taylor to take it. He is a classy kid and history means something to him!

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#79 cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan
July 05 2010, 01:06PM
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Stevens wrote:

I like Brownlee, but he's way off here. Hall hasn't grown up wearing this jersey, just the last couple years. This is the same entitlement to young players who haven't earned anything yet that gave us Nilsson making six million dollars. Yes sometimes this organization dwells too much on the past, but an appreciation of your history is important. What if Hall wore 17, would we take Kurri out of the rafters? It's just a number. Hall doesn't care. Most fans don't really care. This is a media/message-board created non-issue.

well, you cared enough to comment.....

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#80 Dyckster
July 05 2010, 01:07PM
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After all (not Hall) is said and done, it's probably fair to say this fall's (not Hall's) Oiler pre-season tickets will be harder to come by than any year in memory. Maaaaaan it's gonna be fun!

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#81 AdamfromOilfans
July 05 2010, 01:08PM
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Robin Brownlee wrote:

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.

Robin,

While the Oilers waited for the Hall call to induct the last several players, they won't do the same for Lowe. There is a reason the number is in mothballs.

Lowe was the first draft pick, scored the first goal, was a key cog in the Oilers' glory years, one of the "Silver Seven" along with Gretzky, Coffey, Messier, Kurri, Anderson and Fuhr. He was an assistant captain throughout the Stanley Cup wins. He left and won a Cup with the Rangers, then came back and finished his career with the Oilers. He was then an assistant coach, the head coach and the GM before taking his current position of President of Hockey Operations.

He has been an Oiler through and through, and the plan has always been to retire his number, whether he makes the Hall or not. He'll have to wait a lot longer than the others, as not only does he not have the Hall induction to expedite things, but he won't want to be seen to retire his own number, so as long as he's a key guy in the organization, he can't go out there and pull his number up to the roof.

Now, you don't seem to have a lot of use for Lowe, and you're not alone. He's been unpopular post-Pronger, because he struggled to find a path after the Cup run and subsequent exodus of the better part of that team. But that shouldn't take anything away from Lowe as a player and as an Edmonton Oiler. His number does belong with the rest of them, and will be eventually.

Hall has said numbers aren't particularly important to him, so why is there a need to pull that jersey out of the mothballs? If Lowe hands it over, great...that's a magnanimous gesture. But I don't think there should be any pressure on him to do so. The organization has gone out of its way to hold that jersey aside for special recognition. I'm quite fine if they maintain the status quo there.

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#82 rickithebear
July 05 2010, 01:25PM
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When taylor has put on the 5th cup ring with the oilers give him #4.

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#83 TigerUnderGlass
July 05 2010, 01:45PM
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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.

Why don't you just take 2 seconds to look up when the last time a forward taken #1 overall failed to make the NHL the following year.

Here's a hint, it's been a long time.

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#84 TigerUnderGlass
July 05 2010, 01:48PM
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Why do people think Brownlee is making an issue of this? At no point did he ever claim there is some sort of problem with Hall not getting to wear 4.

It's just a suggestion he thinks might have some symbolic impact.

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#85 Traktor
July 05 2010, 01:54PM
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Heard that he will wear #18 in honor of Mickey Renaud.

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#86 Aleslav Smidsky
July 05 2010, 01:56PM
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What the point of this article, Brownlee? Just want to sh!t on KLowe some more? Whats your problem?

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#87 I'm a Scientist!
July 05 2010, 01:56PM
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According to Ender's post it sounds like Hall would rather wear 19 anyway. So let's move the discussion to Eberle...should he wear 14? The same number as the infamous MacT?

I vote for 3 digit jersey numbers. Ooo decimals and fractions!!! Khabibulin could be 0.15.

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#88 Oilers Insider
July 05 2010, 01:57PM
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It wouldn't surprise me if Hall didn't want #4 out of respect for Kevin Lowe. Hall is a real student of hockey history. My guess is that he knows a lot about Lowe and his past with Edmonton and so far Hall has said everything right when it comes to being the newest Oiler.

Oller fans would love Hall if it was offered and he declined suggesting it's important to recognize Oiler history and keep that number where it belongs -- with Kevin Lowe.

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#89 Ender
July 05 2010, 02:09PM
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@I'm a Scientist!

To be clear, I didn't specifically quote Taylor's preferences; only other people's opinions. Here's what Taylor had to say on the matter:

Taylor Hall (per Con Griwkowsky):

I’ve had talks with Kevin about wearing 4,” said Hall. “I don’t think I’m going to wear 4 just because it’s a respect thing. He’s done a lot for this organization as a player and as a GM and president. I owe it to him and the fans, too, so he can have his number. “I haven’t really made a choice on what I’m going to wear, but I’ll make a decision soon. Maybe 91 or 44.

So, if the universe has a sense of humour the curse of 44 could continue. I'm thinking 91 or 19 looks probable at this juncture, though; after all, 44 is at this point still technically taken, day-to-day as it may be.

And 0.15 for Khabby; priceless.
:-)

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#90 I'm a Scientist!
July 05 2010, 02:10PM
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Ender wrote:

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Interesting tidbit, though, that could blow my angle even if the Oilers do take Hall. I just got off the phone with chief scout Stu MacGregor and he told me Hall's favourite number is 19. He's not sure how Hall ended up with No. 4 in recent seasons, but he wore No. 19 coming up and he likes it enough that it's part of his e-mail address.

K wrote:

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?

Quote A + Quote B = Hall should wear #19.

Lowe may not make the HHoF, but the jersey belongs in the past. Hate Lowe for the mistakes he has made, ok, but respect him as well for everything he has done for the franchise over the course of his lifetime.

So.... Taylorhall19@hotmail.com... let the stalking commence! SQUEEEEEEE!

*looks around sheepishly* are we still doing that???

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#91 jakethesnake
July 05 2010, 02:13PM
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Grab a brain, why should Hall get #4. Kevin Lowe was a great Oiler player and was an OK GM and now is a good president. D Katz wouldn't let anyone wear #4 because the guy loves the Oilers and has forever, and Kevin Lowe is his guy. I for one believe Lowe should be in the Hall of Fame. The guy did nothing but win wherever he played here and NY. He is more worthy of the Hall of Fame then some that are there now. People want to rage on hime for the last couple of years but he isn't the only one to blame for the problems the Oilers have had. I'm sick of Lowe being bashed, how many of you great armchair GM's would have done better. It's time to move on and bring in a new era of hockey.

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#92 OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F
July 05 2010, 02:26PM
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@jakethesnake

"It's time to move on and bring in a new era of hockey."

I think that's the whole point of the gesture.

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#93 JackBauer
July 05 2010, 02:29PM
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I agree with you Robin. TAR AND FEATHER KEVIN LOWE!!!!!

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#94 Robin Brownlee
July 05 2010, 02:54PM
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@Aleslav Smidsky

To "Kip" and the others who don't get it . . .

If Kevin Lowe doesn't offer his number to Hall, it's not going to tarnish his legacy with the Oilers, which is considerable. It won't diminish his accomplishments as a player, which are many. It doesn't mean he has no class or is hanging on desperately to the past. He doesn't have to do it.

If Lowe does offer his number to Hall, it won't make him a better player than he was. It won't get him into the HHOF. It would be nothing more, as I've already suggested, than a timely symbolic gesture. It might make Hall feel like he's being welcomed with open arms by an entire organization and a city.

Is it really that difficult a concept to grasp, or is this a matter of being distracted by who is writing the item as opposed to what is being written?

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#95 DC
July 05 2010, 03:58PM
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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.

1. Who is #33? Grant Fuhr was#31 2. What about #7 Paul Coffey 3. #4 is NOT in the rafters.

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#97 Aleslav Smidsky
July 05 2010, 04:01PM
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@Robin Brownlee

I didn't say nothing about tarnished legacy, nothing about no class or status with the Oilers and HHOF.

How do you know he didn't offer it to him before? Is Hall not feeling welcome enough or you just throwing that out there?

I am not distracted, I'm puzzled to what you were getting at.

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#98 DC
July 05 2010, 04:04PM
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mike wrote:

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

As far as I understand it, those jersey's mentioned are not actually retired. They are "honored". I may be wrong.

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#99 DC
July 05 2010, 04:09PM
Trash it!
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Ender wrote:

Robin Brownlee wrote:

Interesting tidbit, though, that could blow my angle even if the Oilers do take Hall. I just got off the phone with chief scout Stu MacGregor and he told me Hall's favourite number is 19. He's not sure how Hall ended up with No. 4 in recent seasons, but he wore No. 19 coming up and he likes it enough that it's part of his e-mail address.

K wrote:

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?

Quote A + Quote B = Hall should wear #19.

Lowe may not make the HHoF, but the jersey belongs in the past. Hate Lowe for the mistakes he has made, ok, but respect him as well for everything he has done for the franchise over the course of his lifetime.

I agree completely. BBG!

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