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.