The Edmonton Oilers will raise Kevin Lowe’s No. 4 to the rafters on Friday night.
Lowe, a six-time Stanley Cup winner, will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame later this month, along with Ken Holland, Marian Hossa, Jarome Iginla, Kevin Lowe, Kim St-Pierre, and Doug Wilson. It’s fitting the Oilers are doing this tonight as they host the New York Rangers, the team that Lowe won his sixth Stanley Cup with back in 1994.
No. 4 will be the eighth number retired by the Oilers. The first was No. 3, which was WHA star Al Hamilton’s number. Next up was Wayne Gretzky’s No. 99, which was retired in October of 1999 shortly after he retired. After that, it was Jari Kurri’s No. 17, Grant Fuhr’s No. 31, Paul Coffey’s No. 7, Mark Messier’s No. 11, and Glenn Anderson’s No. 9.
Save for Hamilton, all of Edmonton’s retired numbers are members of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Rod Phillips, the legendary Hall of Fame announcer, also has the number 3542 hanging in the rafters, which represents the number of games he called for the Oilers during his career.
That brings us to this week’s What Would You Do Wednesday FRIDAY EDITION question. Which number should the Oilers retire next?
The Oilers have an unwritten rule in which they only retire the number of Hall of Fame players, which was, of course, grandfathered in after Hamilton’s jersey was put in the rafters. That would mean a name like Ryan Smyth, who likely won’t wind up in the Hall of Fame, doesn’t fit the criteria to have his number retired in Edmonton.
The Smyth jersey retirement conversation is a tough one. He’s an iconic Oiler, one of the most beloved players in franchise history. He ranks second in all-time games played for the organization behind only Lowe and he’s fifth with 296 goals and sixth with 631 points. He’s also the only player ever to wear No. 94 for the team, and, frankly, seeing somebody else wear the number would be very strange.
What the Oilers could do in order to maintain their Hall of Fame rule is start some kind of Level of Excellence.
The Blue Jays only retire Hall of Fame numbers, as Roy Halladay’s No. 32 is currently the only one hanging from the rafters of the SkyDome. But the Blue Jays also have the names of franchise icons listed around the field, including Tony Fernandez, Joe Carter, George Bell, Carlos Delgado, manager Cito Gaston, and announcer Tom Cheek. Eventually, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion, two great players who won’t wind up in Cooperstown, will also be added to the Level of Excellence.
With this kind of thing in Edmonton, we could see non-HHoF names like Smyth, Doug Weight, Curtis Joseph, Bill Ranford, and Charlie Huddy get their due.
What say you Nation? Whose jersey should be retired next? Should the Oilers keep the Hall of Fame rule? Should they do something else? Personally, I would make an exception for Smyth. I honestly can’t imagine anybody rolling into Edmonton and wearing No. 94, so you might as well retire it.
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