Taylor Hall has put the boots to the bogus, overblown bit of gossip that made the rounds Thursday about he and his dad somehow strong-arming jersey No. 4 from Kevin Lowe.
Not only that, the Edmonton Oilers rookie pulled it off with the deft touch of a seasoned veteran, laughing off the non-story penned by somebody named Mark Seidel on CBC.ca’s sports website.
Is Hall so obsessed with No. 4 that he and his father, Steve, twisted Lowe’s arm to get it, as implied in Seidel’s no-quote expose? Was anything going to stop Hall from getting his number, even if Lowe had to pull it out of mothballs for fear the kid might not report to Edmonton?
Hall, 18, had a flock of reporters waiting for him at his dressing room stall in Rexall Place after the Oilers pre-game skate this morning looking for the real dope on his alleged numeric fetish. Did you, Taylor? Did you want it that bad? Did your obsession with the No. 4 result in you and your dad leaning on the Oilers president of hockey operations?
The people have a right to know.
FOUR CRYING OUT LOUD
"Yeah," Hall declared, when asked if he’s got a stash of jerseys and banners emblazoned with the No. 4 back at the family home. "Our whole house, the walls aren’t painted. It’s just 4s."
While that punch line drew a hearty guffaw from all assembled, Hall showed a fair bit of composure for somebody who’d just been made to sound like a selfish, self-centred jerk by Seidel, whose unnamed sources for the item he wrote sound dubious, at best.
I covered most of Seidel’s dirt-dishing yesterday, as did Jason Gregor on his afternoon show when he had Lowe on as a guest, so there’s no need to go through it all again. That said, Hall had his say today.
"I was pretty surprised when I heard that. I didn’t even know I was wearing the number until before camp and Kevin called. It’s pretty much a non-issue."
"My dad called mid afternoon and told me, ‘There’s this article.’ I don’t care what it says about me, because I can take that. It’s more my family because they’re not used to that stuff. When they say stuff about my dad, that’s kind of hard to take.
"Like I said, two weeks before camp I was visiting my billets in Windsor and he (Lowe) gave me a call. We started talking about the number. He brought it up. He said he thought I’d look great in it and that it might make me a little more comfortable coming into camp wearing my own number. Other than that, I didn’t even think about it. That was pretty much it. I said OK."
End of non-story.
Seidel’s story has been pulled from the CBC website and his name is no longer listed among the site’s bloggers. This update from Rob Tychkowski at the Edmonton Sun:
"The Edmonton Oilers and Taylor Hall say a CBC report that the rookie and his family pressured a reluctant Kevin Lowe into turning over No.4 before the season is total fabrication. And it appears it was. The CBC pulled the story Friday evening while its author, Mark Seidel, sent an e-mail to the Oilers apologizing for the piece, saying “I am fully confident that these events did not happen as I layed them out in the article.”
— Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TEAM 1260.