It’s supposed to be a photo-op for the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation Winner’s Choice Lottery, but Wednesday’s grip and grin will be much more than that when Kevin Lowe hands Taylor Hall his No. 4 jersey.

As symbolic gestures go — I wrote about it here back on March 14 and now Dave Mitchell of CTV is saying it’s a done deal — the timing of Lowe’s decision to pass his old number on to Hall couldn’t be better.

With the Oilers looking to put four straight seasons out of the playoffs (and 20 mostly forgettable years since the 1990 Stanley Cup) behind them and Hall the centre piece of a rebuild the team hopes will result in a return to the glory of days gone by, Lowe’s linen will become a beacon for the future rather than serving as a relic of the past.

As it should be.


Lowe’s No. 4 has been in mothballs for years. He’s the only Oiler ever to wear the digit. Former equipment man Sparky Kulchisky had it safely tucked away — not retired like numbers 99, 11, 17, 7, 31, 9 and 3, but not available to players who’ve been here since Lowe last wore it.

That’ll change with Hall, who wore No. 4 with the Windsor Spitfires and will be on hand with Lowe tomorrow morning to accept the linen from the Oilers former captain and president of hockey operations.

Like I said in March, "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."

The time has come.

The time is here.

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

  • Atta Dinnin Stick A Who

    A lot of pressure on the kid. Still, he’s been the man for his entire career to date, I suppose it’s nothing new for him. I wonder how much weight was given to perceived ability to handle the fishbowl during the Taylor/Tyler discussions.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    As far as class goes this is up there and good for the Organization. I believe this way waiting on wheather Lowe will give his number workedout better this way. The intrigue of the situation makes it look all the better as time went on. It makes the gesture stand out as a step to the future.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    Numbers schmumbers. If they had tried to put ’99’ on Hall’s back that’s one thing but it is such a small deal in a big game…let’s just play hockey already and let Hall and the others write their own history.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    “…Would have been classier if he had done it right after the draft…”

    No idea what the plan is, but if the org plans to give the kid #4 AND still raise Lowe’s #4 when the number is ultimately retired… you’d give the kid the summer to rethink before letting him commit to a number that he would be sharing in the rafters.

  • Mitch

    Robin this is great!!!! I feel Taylor is going to be everything we have needed for the past 15-20 yrs, this kid is so much more than goals and assists, he has embraced Edmonton and wants to be a oiler.

    I know what the glory years were like, I also know of the failure we have had to deal with in recent years. This is differnt, Tambellini has done a good job to make it differnt. So happy KLowe is on board, this is now Taylor Hall’s time he is the Edmonton Oilers!

  • Mitch

    Props to you Brownlee for putting the pressure on Lowe to give it up.

    The team is putting their hopes in Hall’s hand so they should do watever the kid wants within reason to keep him happy.

    Also the Oilers should not name a captain until Hall is ready, once you name a captain it is hard to take it away and give it to Hall, unless the player you name for now will not be here in 2 years, and the Oilers don’t have that guy right now. Souray would of been that guy but @#!& hit the fan, and Horc and Whitney will still be here when he is ready.

    • cableguy - 2nd Tier Fan

      That’s flattering, but I didn’t put any pressure on Kevin. He’s smart enough, I think, to know this is a great opportunity to make a symbolic gesture at a time when the franchise is in transition.

  • longbottom/P.Biglow

    lets not get ahead of our selves Taylor may make a great captain and he may not, I see Gagne as captain material also and Eberle has the smarts. The nice thing is You don’t need a letter to be a leader here. I remember during the o6 season we had a few captains here former captain Peca, I believe Pronger was a captain. So what I am saying if you bend down and give Hall everything he wants without earning it there is a chance you could turn him into a primadona. Not much of one but there is a chance.

  • Chris.

    What are the chances the #4 jersey presented to Hall is an 80’s era old-school white? Please for the love of god get rid of the pajama’s – I see them and think of how crappy we were, I’d rather see the old-school jerseys all of time and think of how great we were.

    • Grumpy OM

      Agreed. Seeing them win again in the 80’s era jerseys would be sweeeeet. I hate those PJ’s.

      Could be worse though, have you seen the Flames Heritage classic jersey? Or any Flames jersey for that matter!!!

  • Chris.

    hall should just wear #98 and be done with it. Lowe’s #4 should be hanging in the rafters, and when it’s all said and done both just may be draped from the roof of rexall.

    • Grumpy OM

      With the exception of Hamilton’s jersey, the Oilers haven’t retired a number until that player is inducted, or named for induction, into the HHOF. Lowe isn’t getting in.

      • Travis Dakin

        Lowe should get the same treatment Hamilton got. First draft pick, first goal scored, 5 cups, player then coach then GM. The man was an Oiler through and through. Hall can wear 19.

      • OilFan

        RB, what’s your take on that? 6 Stanleys, plus some Canada Cups, mgmt on the Olys. Clearly not a points guy or sexy pick, but few players have won more than him in the game and the bar evidenced by some of the inductees isn’t that high.

        • ubermiguel

          Great resume, but the HHOF is the unwritten (although explicitly stated) rule.

          Ray Bourgue gave up his number 7 when Esposito got his number retired (oh, Rem Murray and Jari Kurri too). If Lowe ever does get so honoured Hall could pay him the same repsect.

  • Chris.

    I think it’s classy, but this seems to put some pressure on Hall to be better then an average player in the NHL.

    What happens if he turns out to be a 50 point man his whole career? Nothing wrong with that, but Klowe’s number was going to be retired some time.

    I think Hall will be be a good player i’m just not to sure I agree with putting this kind of extra pressure on the kid.

    • ubermiguel

      You don’t think that being drafted first overall puts any pressure on to be a better than average player in the NHL???

      I think if Hall is a 50 point man his whole career he will likely be considered a bust. First overall picks should be perennial 80+ point players.

  • Grumpy OM

    I can see the same thing happening with #4 as happened in Beantown with #7. Klowe SHOULD AND WILL have his number retired to the rafters some day. He was a huge part of all the Oilers Stanley Cups.

    I think the whole issue would have been rectifed all ready , had some other smoo not been wearing #44 . If we could only get him to want out of Edmonton and have someone give us a bag of pucks for him.

  • Grumpy OM

    Way to keep the buzz going over a player’s jersey number. I’m actually excited about this and am contemplating scouring all of Calgary for a Taylor Hall jersey tomorrow. Good luck to me! A great hockey number, a number that Oil folk remember from the good ole days. A number we hope will be hoisting Lord Stanley’s mug once again in Oiler silks.

  • Travis Dakin

    Just got Sportsnet One on Telus TV!

    677 and 678 for HD. looks like the Oilers got their own channel! 678! Sportnet Oilers?

    For SD people its 106, and 107!

  • Milli

    Robin, I’ve always thought Klo was a class guy. Motivated, competitive, and a bit of Ego. But always a class act, would you agree? Is that the perception of him? thanks.

  • ubermiguel

    With the exception of Hamilton’s jersey…

    First NHL draft pick. Most reg + playoff game. 6 Rings. 7 time All Star. Coach. GM. President.

    There’s enough there for an exception when he’s all done and the dust settles and the armchair critics have had their fill.

    We don’t know if Hall will be an Oilers HOF, but retiring the number with 2 names has been done elsewhere. And if Hall was informed that this is in the cards, a very classy approach by everyone involved.

  • Ender

    @ Jamie B., cableguy, & Gregor

    Sorry, Freudian slip. While I consciously acknowledge that Seguin is a Bruin now, I guess there is still a part of me that may never quite accept it. Well, that and my favorite episode of Rainbow Brite was on while I was typing. Embarassed apologies.

  • magisterrex

    I doubt if the timing is anything more than a combination of making the biggest splash as possible at the best possible time of the year to do it, as well as the time it took Kevin Lowe to convince everyone on the management team that it was a good idea. Yes, I said KLowe. People have respect for what he did and represents, and would have to be shown why it was more than just a cheap PR move. No way Tambelini goes for it if he does not have Katz’s support, and no way Katz goes for it if KLowe wasn’t all in.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    I really wonder if Hall wanted #4 at all? I seem to remember reading somewhere that he was perfectly happy as #19 because that is what he was prior to the Spitfires. I feel like he may have been muscled into taking #4 for the PR opportunity it creates…and if that is the case, I don’t consider this a classy move at all – more of a lame attempt to build the hype. I think Lowe’s number deserves to be retired and we shouldn’t muddy the waters by having Hall take it. Meh. Unimpressed by the PR stunt.

    Oilers: “Hey Taylor, what number would you like to wear this year?”

    Hall: “Well, I understand that there is a deep history with the number 4. Although I wore that number during my latest career, I actually prefer the number 19. If it isn’t too much trouble, I would like to wear #19. Thank you”

    Oilers: “Umm…let’s try this again, Taylor, what number would you like to wear?” *holds up four fingers*

    Taylor: “Seriously, i play best when i wear number 19, so 19 please.”

    Oilers: “Perhaps numbers aren’t your forte…here is a list of numbers that are available…choose one: 4. That is all.”

    Taylor: “Oh. I guess i will choose 4 then.”

    Oilers: “Are you sure? I mean, we want you to be the happiest player on the team and don’t want to do anything to piss you off…”

    Taylor: “Well, as I said, i would prefer 19.”

    Oilers: “Great, 4 it is! I am glad we could come to some understanding here”

      • I'm a Scientist!

        I honestly believe that is how it went down. Sad actually.

        Then again, I am stuck in my “Save the World Headquarters” and my finger is NOT on the pulse of Oilers happenings, so maybe I am wrong. We will never know.

    • Jamie B.

      I don’t know, according to Dave Mitchell Hall’s worn #4 since Bantam. I honestly think he would have been happy with 19 if that’s the way the team decided to go, but I don’t really get the vibe the Oilers pressured him to take 4. Why would they??

      • I'm a Scientist!

        Two letters: PR. Would there be an article on OilersNation, Edmonton Journal, Edmonton Sun (etc. etc.) if Hall decided he wanted 19? Would anyone care? Nope. Make him 4 and you have a whole storyline about a new generation, starting fresh…blah blah blah. Whopeedee do. It is all a bit flaky to me.

        I remember hearing that before Windsor, Hall was 19….which is why it is referenced as his “second” choice. Looking at the quotes from the presentation today, it sure sounds like the Oilers asked him to be number 4.

        • Jamie B.

          I get what you’re saying but um, yeah, of course it’d still be a story! It’d just be “Hall not wearing #4”. It’s September, everything this kid does is a story right now.

          In the clip on Gregor’s show Hall said the last number he wore was 17 in Bantam because an older kid took 4 from him. He wore 4 at the World Juniors, 14 and 11 in U18 … he was thinking about taking 19 but I don’t know that he’s worn it before.

          • Ender

            This quote is gold.

            Robin Brownlee wrote:

            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.

          • Jamie B.

            Not sure when/where your quote is from (not that I’m doubting Robin in any way) but someone’s playing revisionist history then. You’re right that I remember hearing in the Taylor/Tyler debate that he only took #4 because the number he wanted wasn’t available and Bobby Orr was his mom’s favourite player. So I don’t know.

            But I still don’t think the Oilers made him take 4, lol.

  • ubermiguel

    As much as I love everything he’s done for the Oilers, there’s no way Lowe gets his jersey retired for all the reasons RB stated. Hamilton was an exception. I’ve mentioned it before but there needs to be a 2nd tier of honour for guys like Lowe, Sather, Smyth, Ranford, Phillips, Joey Moss.

  • I'm a Scientist!

    “Lowe’s linen will become a beacon for the future rather than serving as a relic of the past.”

    The Oilers first ever draft pick, passing the number on to the Oilers first ever number one draft pick. Both being number 4.
    Respecting the past, but moving forward.

  • OilFan

    Does it even matter ? Really does Hall want number 4. Nice to rehash the same old same old. I think Lowe’s number should be retired by the Oil. I understand he isn’t in the HHOF etc. Of all the ex oilers in the HHOF which ones came back to Edmonton ?