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