NATION PROFILE: KEVIN LOWE

Lowetide
October 21 2012 05:29PM

 

Kevin Lowe enjoys a special place in Oilers lore--first draft pick, he scored the first goal and of course he was part of that elite group who belong on the "5 Stanley" list of Oiler greats. Unlike Messier, Kurri, Anderson, Fuhr, Huddy and Gregg--and unlike Gretzky, Coffey and Moog--Kevin Lowe returned to the city and organization as a player and then as a coach and manager.

BEFORE THE DRAFT

PRE-DRAFT STATISTICS
Year Team League GP G A TP PIM
1976-77 Quebec QMJHL 69 3 19 22 39
1977-78 Quebec QMJHL 64 13 52 65 86
1978-79 Quebec QMJHL 68 26 60 86 120

PRE-DRAFT AWARDS AND HONORS
QMJHL All-Star Second Team:
1977-78, 1978-79 (Quebec)
Quebec Captain: 1978-79
Miscellaneous: Rated in The Hockey News draft preview issue as
No. 12 prospect (among players born in 1959) for the 1979 NHL draft. ... Was first English-speaking player named Quebec (QMJHL) captain.

stats courtesy hockeydraftcentral

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  • Kevin Lowe was told the 1979 draft (via telephone) was to start at 10am his time. He expected a call from Alan Eagleson around 10:15 to tell him which team had selected him in the first round. Lowe waited, and waited, and waited. By 10:45am the phone hadn’t rung and Lowe’s mom said “My God, they’re not drafting him.” A mixup in the phone lines caused a one hour delay, but the Lowe household was not aware of it. At 11:10, Eagleson’s secretary called with the news Edmonton had chosen Lowe—21st overall.
  • Glen Sather on draft day: "We could have made trades in this draft. We could have traded our first pick and obtained Garry Unger. I still think he has two or three good years in him, but Lowe could have 10 or 12 good years."
  • Barry Fraser had Kevin Lowe #10 on his final draft list. Edmonton took him at #21.
  • The player Edmonton coveted most was taken by the Islanders at #17--Duane Sutter.
  • Barry Fraser: "He was the best player available, a steady defenseman who is good offensively and has a penchant for being tough."
  • Kevin Lowe, in the book Champions: "Mom remembers my deathless quote when I hung up (after finding out who drafted him). "Edmonton? I'm going to Edmonton? That's even colder than Quebec!"

EARLY CAREER

Kevin Lowe scored the first goal in Oilers NHL history in the club's first game. It came on the powerplay--assisted by 99--against Tony Esposito of the Chicago Blackhawks at 9:49 of the first period. Brett Callighen got the other assist. Lowe joined an extremely young blueline--ripped apart by the stunning and vicious expansion rules--and as with most young defenders struggled early on. In late December, there were whispers of someone heading out, but Lowe was spared (Mike Forbes got sent out instead) when Colin Campbell came off the injured list. The newspaper suggested new assistant coach Dave Dryden would work closely with Lowe on his "mental lapses."

Sather at the time: "If a guy is making the same mistakes over and over again, you've got to be concerned. But if he's learning then you've got to be patient." These long years later, those words from Slats can apply to every young defender who comes down the pipe. Kevin Lowe learned his lessons well, and for most of his career earned a reputation for being a reliable, dependable and effective defender.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS

  • Scored the first NHL goal in franchise history. Details above.
  • Member of Oilers "Boys On the Bus" team, a storied group that wreaked havoc on the NHL for a decade. His steady play was perhaps overshadowed by the brilliance up front, but make no mistake: he was a major part of one of the greatest teams in history.
  • Has been part of all 7 of Edmonton's trips to the Stanley Cup, as a player or manager.
  • Edmonton Community Service award winner multiple times. Lowe was chairman of the Christmas Bureau for many years, and would often return from road trips late one night and attend breakfasts on behalf of the Bureau the following morning. I can remember at least a couple myself, and that kind of dedication to the community has earned Lowe a special place in Edmonton. Its hard to describe, but its there. In a real way, Kevin Lowe from Lachute, Quebec is Edmonton's favorite son--even through some difficult days as General Manager.
  • Suffered dozens of injuries as an Oiler, from a sprained ankle as a rookie to a troubling inner ear infection that probably hurried the end of his career. It became an issue in early October of his final season, and he would play only 7 regular season games and one playoff contest that season.
  • Won Clancy Trophy, 1990.
  • Owns several team records, including most career games as an Oiler (1,037) and most career playoff games as an Oiler (172).
  • Named alternate captain March 6, 1987 when Lee Fogolin was traded. and kept the letter until the day Mark Messier was traded, October 4, 1991. Was Team Captain for most of 1991-92.

TEAM 

At about the two and a half minute mark of this interview, Kevin Lowe explains his role on the historic Oilers better than anyone.

VISH

Lowe gained the nickname "VISH" early in his career. Some say it reflected his style--vicious--while others suggested it came about due to a resemblance to Sex Pistols' Sid Vicious. Gzowski's book suggested he was called Vish because he isn't, but his on-ice demeanor made the nickname a perfect fit.

TRADE

Edmonton dealt Lowe to the New York Rangers during a salary dispute (rumors had Lowe wanting to go to Montreal) for Roman Oksiuta and a 1993 3rd rd pick (Alexander Kerch). The club signed him back September 19, 1996 as a free agent and he ended his playing career as an Oiler.

LEGACY

Defenceman Kevin Lowe was a pillar in the building of the Edmonton Oilers into a Stanley Cup champion. He was a solid positional player in his own zone, a team leader, and an astute playmaker on offense. His leadership on and off the ice was a major component of Cup championships in both Edmonton and New York.(courtesy the Hockey Hall of Fame)

GZOWSKI

  • Number 4 is Kevin Lowe. Tall and angular, there is a gentlemanly air about him and the look of a future star, although he has a lot to learn. He is a young man of innate class and is fluently bilingual. Sometimes he fights to upgrade the telelvision tastes of his roommate Wayne Gretzky, for whom he cooks. His easy, aristocratic smile serves to cover a bashfulness he is struggling to conquer.

 

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#1 dmac
October 21 2012, 05:35PM
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Fist pick, Fist goal, FIST!!!

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#2 autooiler
October 21 2012, 05:37PM
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Fist pick, fist goal!

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#3 Walter Sobchak
October 21 2012, 06:03PM
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Still remember those ridicules Lange skates he wore, and I still say Gretzky tipped that shot in!

Great player, should be in the hall of fame.

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#4 The Real Scuba Steve
October 21 2012, 06:13PM
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A legend as a player, but a moron as a G.M. I like to remember him of the days him PLAYED for the Oilers.

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#5 Bruce McCurdy
October 21 2012, 06:26PM
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I'm pretty sure that the nickname "Vish" first came up after the kicking incident in Lowe's rookie season involving Buffalo's Tony McKegney. Definitely short for "Vicious". He did have quite the temper.

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#6 Harlie
October 21 2012, 06:55PM
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still wanna see him and Burkey in a Barn fight.

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#7 JSR
October 21 2012, 09:58PM
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Walter Sobchak wrote:

Still remember those ridicules Lange skates he wore, and I still say Gretzky tipped that shot in!

Great player, should be in the hall of fame.

Not many stay-at-home d'men get elected to the HoF. If you let K-Lowe in, who's next? Huddy? Gregg? I don't think it's ever happening.

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#8 book¡e
October 21 2012, 10:14PM
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JSR wrote:

Not many stay-at-home d'men get elected to the HoF. If you let K-Lowe in, who's next? Huddy? Gregg? I don't think it's ever happening.

You could just give it to those with 5 or more Stanley Cup rings. That would keep the number down.

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#9 Kieso
October 21 2012, 10:23PM
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I say 6 cups and a finals should merit hof consideration. Most of his career he was on a team that went deep in the finals. Not many can say that.

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#10 wiseguy
October 21 2012, 10:31PM
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I refuse to read a biographical article about the man I blame for our team being uncompetitive for the last 6 years. I read the comments though since I'm starving for anything NHL related.

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#11 RexLibris
October 21 2012, 10:41PM
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Loved Lowe as a player and I have to give him credit that he did fairly well for a rookie GM on a team in tough financial straits.

Back in the 90s, if there were two jerseys that I would have wanted, they were Lowe's and MacTavish's: worked harder than anyone I ever saw and wore their hearts on their sleeves.

Maybe Smid reminds me a bit of the old #4. He just needs to work on his stick.

Thanks again for these, LT. Beautifully written and heartwarming during this ugly time in the business.

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#12 RexLibris
October 21 2012, 10:43PM
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@wiseguy

Strange as it sounds, I think you're giving him too much credit to say that it was entirely his fault.

He certainly screwed up, but there were systemic issues alongside that and ownership, both old and new, as well as scouts, coaches, and countless others have to take some of that as well.

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#13 Manfly
October 22 2012, 07:28AM
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good solid d-man and one of the guys responsible for getting us to the finals in '06 for sure. however, showed his inexperience as a GM by thinking he could continue to sign UFA's and trade for vets that would make the team better....they didn't. Souray didn't make us better, nor did Khabby or Penner, and signing Vanek or Heatley or Hossa or Nylander wouldn't have made us significantly better either. at least now Lowe has learned his lessons and is doing things the right way....building from the draft.

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#14 jonrmcleod
October 22 2012, 09:46AM
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LT: I enjoyed this post. Thanks!

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#15 jonrmcleod
October 22 2012, 09:49AM
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I have a question: Did Wayne score his 77th goal against Buffalo (see video)?

(I suppose I could look it up.)

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#16 Walter Sobchak
October 22 2012, 09:50AM
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JSR wrote:

Not many stay-at-home d'men get elected to the HoF. If you let K-Lowe in, who's next? Huddy? Gregg? I don't think it's ever happening.

Huddy and Gregg are not even near the same ball park.

This guy played in 7 Stanley Cup Finals! Been to 8. Been to the western conference final 8 times and the Eastern conference final, won 6 Stanley Cups plus 2 or 3 more Canada Cups and all star games.

He was playing for a championship for almost half his career!

Character, integrity, leadership, skill, heart and competitiveness all play a contributing factor, the fact he was a stay home defensmen should be irrelevant.

Guy's like Langway, Nealy, M.Howe, Larionov are in the Hall and not just for statistical reasons but because they brought something to the game that the average players can't.

It's a shame that players like Bure and Lindros, get special consideration yet accomplished very little in the overall game.

Players like Lowe are every bit as valuable to there team success and he prove that.

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#17 Quicksilver ballet
October 22 2012, 10:04AM
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I remember one night, Kevin had gotten under the skin of Dino Ciccarelli of the Minny North Stars. Ciccarelli was so irate he fired the puck at Kevins head and narrowly missed. The nickname Vish was well earned in Lowes case. Think later that game Fogolin broke Dinos arm with a two hander across the wrist.

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#18 Pucker
October 22 2012, 01:10PM
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Kevin Lowe. Genuinely a nice guy and compettive d-man. As GM, I think he's made mistakes. More from inexperience and overthinking a situation (Horcoff and anticipation on how the game would change in the new NHL).

I had the pleasure of playing with him as his d-partner in a pick up game the day he got traded to New York. It was a blast! And he certainly played bigger than he was.

I think he is still learning from his mistakes and he is still as asset to the Oilers.

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#19 Milli
October 22 2012, 07:39PM
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Love the guy. Great player who came home (well not home but you all know what I mean). He made some mistakes, but only because he absolutley wanted to win.

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#20 Bruce McCurdy
October 22 2012, 10:56PM
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jonrmcleod wrote:

I have a question: Did Wayne score his 77th goal against Buffalo (see video)?

(I suppose I could look it up.)

Oh yeah. In typical dramatic Gretzky fashion, he broke a 3-3 tie late in the third period with not one, not two, but three consecutive goals. A natural hat trick and a 6-3 Oilers win.

Here's the summary: http://www.flyershistory.com/cgi-bin/poboxscore.cgi?H19810647

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#21 Bruce McCurdy
October 22 2012, 11:01PM
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Quicksilver ballet wrote:

I remember one night, Kevin had gotten under the skin of Dino Ciccarelli of the Minny North Stars. Ciccarelli was so irate he fired the puck at Kevins head and narrowly missed. The nickname Vish was well earned in Lowes case. Think later that game Fogolin broke Dinos arm with a two hander across the wrist.

I was at that game. It was an exhibition game for pete's sake, fall of '81. Ciccarelli had done the same thing to Bryan Trottier in the SCF the previous spring, so it was no accident.

Doesn't get much dirtier than firing slapshots at guys' heads. Ciccarelli was scum. Hated him then and now.

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