Fall for Hall: dust off that linen, sparky

IIHF World Junior Championship - Canada v USA - Gold Medal Game

When a team is as profoundly flawed as the Edmonton Oilers are, symbolism only goes so far. Still, as I watched the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Oilers 6-4 for fun Saturday, I couldn’t help but think a little bit couldn’t hurt right now.

Every time CBC’s camera’s panned the Oilers brass box at the Air Canada Centre to show president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe, GM Steve Tambellini and scout Morey Gare in various degrees of chagrin over the embarrassment that is their hockey club, I thought about what Lowe should do now that 30th place is secure.

His resignation aside (won’t happen, no matter how much evidence there is that it should), Lowe could at least make a symbolic gesture between now and training camp next year. Call it a move signifying this franchise is looking to the future instead of clinging to fading glories of the past. A passing of the torch, if you will.

Assuming the NHL draft lottery doesn’t go sideways, the Oilers keep the No. 1 pick in June and they select Taylor Hall — I believe he’s the guy they want just a tick ahead of centre Tyler Seguin — Lowe should tell equipment man Lyle Kulchisky to pull his No. 4 jersey out of mothballs.

Then, Lowe should give it to the kid.

Pass it on

Hall wears No. 4 for the Windsor Spitfires, and it’s a number he’s worn for Team Canada in international competition. While an oldtimer like me thinks that’s a goofy choice for a forward, it’s Hall’s digit of choice, at least in recent seasons — he wore No. 19 for several seasons before graduating to the OHL.

It’s also, as everybody knows, the number Lowe wore during his playing career with the Oilers. Lowe, the first ever player drafted by the Oilers, is the only player to wear it here. That should change.

While Lowe’s jersey has never been officially retired by the Oilers, let’s just say it hasn’t been available to other players since he hung up his skates. Sparky’s never pulled No. 4 off the rack and said, "Here, kid. Try this on for size." Same with Mark Messier’s No. 11, which hangs in the rafters at Rexall Place, Al Hamilton’s No. 3 and, of course, No. 99.

Call it a sign of reverence and respect, and there’s certainly a place for that, but numbers worn by Messier and Lowe were never made available even before they were officially retired, although others worn by great Edmonton players have been.

A new era

Glenn Anderson is in the Hall of Fame, but he’s shared his No. 9 with Bill Guerin, Mike Watt, Ralph Intranuovo, Shayne Corson, Bernie Nicholls and Jim Harrison.

Likewise Grant Fuhr, who shared No. 31 with Curtis Joseph, Fred Brathwaite and Eddie Mio. Jarri Kurri’s No. 17 has been worn by Scott Thornton, Cam Connor and Rem Murray, who gave it up when the great Finn’s linen was lifted to the rafters.

Obviously, Lowe offering his number to Hall won’t fill the holes on the roster. It won’t make the goaltending or the penalty killing better. It won’t convince anybody to take Ethan Moreau, like a buy-out might. It won’t make Shawn Horcoff’s contract a bargain or change the fact this team has missed the playoffs for four straight seasons.

But, 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.

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

  • Ender

    If Montreal can put up 2 #12's in the Rafter then why not us when we turn this mess around and get a few more cups on the wall.
    he will have earned it.
    I say give him the #4 at the Draft and wait and see when he along with Lowe have their numbers hung up like Ivan in Montreal.

  • Ender

    The whole giving the #4 to Hall is fun and all to discuss, but this is the Oilers here, why do I and so many others have this angst that some dumb unforeseen situation arises and the Oilers end up with pick 3,4 or 5? (I am really trying to be optimistic, really I am)

    • It's getting pretty close to a guaranteed last place finish…the only way the Oilers wouldn't pick in the top 2 in that scenario would be to trade down to 3, 4 or 5.

      You can already write off number 4 or 5…It's a guaranteed top 3 at this point

  • Slapshot

    If the Oilers end up last overall, and end up losing the lottery,who is to say that Tambellini doesn't give up our first rounder,one of our 2nd rounders in this years draft,and Cogliano for the first overall pick.I think the organization will have to get the number 1 overall pick either by winning the draft or trade.It would just be another major kick in the balls, if the Oilers dont end up picking first, after the season we just had.

  • Jaime

    Wait.

    Both MPS and Hall are Left Wings.

    Which means we have to trade Penner at some point in the next few years. But his value is higher now than it will ever be. He might get better than he has been this season… but might not either. If the team is going to tank for a couple seasons anyway …

    How about trade him this season to recuperate that 1,2 and 3 we gave up for him?

    🙂

  • Mitch

    Robin great idea, although Kevin has many blunders against himself, when we lookover his management career, this would be a way to show just how classy a guy Kevin is as well as pass the torch to lead us in the new era.

    I feel by watching what I seen of Taylor Hall he is exactly what this team needs, and has lacked for 20 yrs, a guy that can score a goal.
    Taylor Hall will also be the one to get rid of the negativity that has devloped about playing in Edmonton.

    Lets cross our fingers and toes, Lowe will pass on #4, so Taylor can bring us a bright and well deserved great future.

  • I feel like I need a group hug ater reading this article. Ugh.

    All I care about is that whomever we draft we let develop appropriately. If he's not ready for the big leagues don't force it.

    I heard from this Eklund guy that the Oil were interested in Tony Amonte. 4 years 5.5 million per – Tambo is a genius.

  • Reagan

    Very interesting Robin…

    It's a good idea, could be a cool moment if they did it right on the draft stage.
    You know do something cool and significant and then have Lowe give Hall the #4 jersey.
    All the news stations would show that in their draft recap/coverage.
    If he ends up being a great player we'd be seeing that footage for a long time.

    Good thought.

  • BarryS

    Two things…

    1) Don`t let Prendergast anywhere near deciding on this pick.

    2) Don`t let Lowe and Tambellini `help` make this pick.

    Let Stu and his boys decide.

  • BarryS

    I don`t want to hear Lowe or Tambellini say, `This is such an important decision for our franchise that I owe it to myself and to the fans to take a more active role in scouting and deciding on these players.`

    I would rather hear them say, `we hire Stu to make those decisions, we trust him and his decision on this one a lot more than we would trust our own. We hire him to be the expert on this`.

  • Petr's Jofa

    One note about the whole Hall vs. Seguin.

    Hall has played a ton of hockey the last 2 years:

    Regular season, 20 playoff games, world juniors.

    If his team goes deep in playoffs again, I wonder if he`ll be a little burned out and have a bad summer (working out, adding muscle for the pro game)

    Seguin: No playoffs last year, no World Juniors

    Just a thought…

  • BarryS

    Robin,

    So that was Morey Gare in press box.
    Ahhh, I`m glad you mentioned that.

    I was wondering what Bob Murray (Anaheim GM) was doing with the Oilers Mgmt ha.
    thought that was a weird arrangement.

    • Petr's Jofa

      Even with a last place finish there is only a 48% chance of getting the 1st overall pick. So shouldn't this Hall/Seguin debate actually be deciding who to chose with the #2 pick. In the fall it was Hall, Seguin, & Fowler as possible #1 picks. Has Fowler fallen so far that there is no debate left between who to chose at be it Hall/Fowler or Seguin/Fowler?

      Speaking of which, when is the draft lottery actually held?

      • stilldrinkingthekoolaid

        I believe there is a debate about Fowler but not so much compared to Hall/Seguin more about the guys after him…

        It's pretty clear that Hall/Seguin are 1 and 2…so if the Oilers drop to #2 the pick should be quite easy to make…

        You take whoever is left between Hall/Seguin…unless of course they are both still sitting there at number 2.

  • VMR

    I think moving forward is a great idea but rather than the jersey number can we ditch the orange and blue classic jerseys already? It's just another sign that we're trying to live on past glories rather than building something new.

    • Petr's Jofa

      I disagree. I associate these blue jerseys with the futility of the early 1990s. To me the glory days will always be when the Oil wore the slightly lighter blue and orange.

  • Petr's Jofa

    We have been rebuilding/retooling for last 3-4 seasons through the draft already , and where are we today – 30th place . So much for something new ! Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers .

    • Petr's Jofa

      Edmonton hasn't been re-building for the last 3 years, they've just sucked.When you sign FAs to big contract (Penner, Souray) and go after FA (Nylander, Healty) your not rebuilding you're looking to win.

      What Oiler prospect in the last 4 years has been considered a "blue chipper"?

        • Petr's Jofa

          They area all nice prospects to have, but they were drafter at 6th (Gagner) 11th (MPS) and 22nd (Eberle). I don't think any of them were not considered blue chip. Ganger stock soared after he was drafted at the superseries and Eberle has made a name for himself post-draft in the world juniors. I don't think many here expected any of them to be can miss when they were drafted and less whould have expected them to jump in imdeiately to make an impact.

          I'm not saying they aren't good prospects. I am saying that they weren't blue chippers. So when madjam makes a statement like "Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers" He's wrong. We knew these guys would take time when Edmonton drafted them.

          • I was just saying, those 3 guys have been considered "Blue Chippers" within the last 4 years. Yes, Eberle has earned that post-draft, but MPS was pegged to go well before he did when we grabbed him. When MPS slipped I remember guys like Maguire freaking out (as he usually does).

            So yeah, they didnt all start as blue chippers, but since we started missing the playoffs the Oilers have managed to draft pretty well despite actually trying to be a good team.

            If the Oilers have slowly been falling from 8th in the west to the bottom of the league, then on the way down they've managed to pick up some good players in the draft. That's part of the reason why I dont think the rebuild will take 5+ years to do. This isnt like Calgary, where the cupboards are literally bare. The Oilers already have a good group of prospects and young NHL players that are coming up.*

            *read optimism

          • Petr's Jofa

            I don't disagree at all with what you are saying. The drafting has been very good lately and I do believe there is hope for the future.

            However I disagree that any one of the Oilers draft choice was a blue chip prospect and should have stepping in and made an immediate impact. I believe that they are all progressing as they were expected to (if not faster) which is why I called out madjam when he "Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers"

    • Is that so? They've been rebuilding?

      In the past five seasons:
      09 – Paajarvi-Svenssen 10th
      08 Eberle 22nd
      07 Gagner 6th/Plante 15th/Nash 21st
      06 Petry 45th (no first-rounder)
      05 Cogliano 25th

      Are you writing off Paajarvi-Svenssen and Eberle already? Of the other three years listed, how many "blue-chippers" were the Oilers supposed to get with the 6th, 15th, 21st, 45th and 25th picks?

      Think before you write.

    • Look at the history before you write garbage like this. In 2007 Mikael Backlund, David Perron & Max Pacioretty are the only guys selected after Nash & Plante that have even played in the league. Nobody selected after Eberle has played a game in the league yet. We didn't have a pick higher because of the Penner signing.

      It's a little early to write off kids who haven't even played in the NHL. Tough to write Plante off after what 2 games?!?!

  • You might want to add Plante and Nash to that list as well- the year we had 3 first rounders and gave up an early second rounder needlessly to obtain Nash in first round if i recall correctly . O'Mark perhaps ? Who knows for sure if Oilers will even keep Cogs/ Gagner going into next season seeing as they are RFA,s and are not resigned as yet ? Maybe, neither will even want to be . I'm just stating we have been in this rebuilding/retooling mode for a long time already without very much success . I have not written any of them off , but i don't see very many of them in our lineup and making much of a contribution to becoming a contender anytime soon either .

  • I think Barry Stafford should just give him #4 without even asking Lowe, it hasen't been retired for a reason to date i'm sure. The players are the most valued assets in the organization, the rest of the positions you can you hire the most qualified applicants.

    There's so much support for the coaches (Usually 4 per team) and the GM.s now (assistant GM, capologists etc) it's time to get rid of these patronage positions, or is this another Semenko scenario we have going on here?

  • Petr's Jofa

    If Lowe had left the organization at the end of his career and stayed away I would have a totally different outlook on #4. The way he has wiped his ass since taking over as GM will maybe make Hall have second thoughts about inheriting the bad karma of that number. Lowe has ripped a huge whole in his reputation as far as I'm concerned.

  • Look at all the first rounders we have had thru the past 4-5 seasons and how many have been good successes including the ones we have traded for besides our own or gotten rid of. Pitkanen , Smid ,Torres , Lupul , O'Marra . Nilsson , Dubnyk, Schremp, Pouliot ,Grebs, R. Whitney ,etc.. Coupled with our own picks thats an awful lot of early first round picks that have not panned out very well considering . We have been this route for a long time already, and i'm sorry but i don't see a lot of success we are having . I haven't written them all off as some are inclined to believe – but i have not written to many in as yet , and wonder just how many will be shipped away before they develop and become an asset on a contending club .

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Nice side step, your comment was about the past 4 years DP's:

      "Better hope this years draft picks pan out faster and better than last 4 years of so called blue chippers"

      Now you're talking about guys picked 10 years ago by other teams.