Home > Edmonton Oilers, News > Hall Will Wear Number 4 But I Wish He Wouldn’t

Hall Will Wear Number 4 But I Wish He Wouldn’t

September 8, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

According to the Edmonton Journal, Taylor Hall will be wearing the number 4 when he joins the Oilers this season. Hall will be only the Oiler other than Kevin Lowe to wear that number during the Oilers NHL history. I don’t know for sure but I have to assume someone wore 4 during the Oilers seven seasons in the WHA. To be totally fair what number a player is going to wear isn’t really all that important but this is Edmonton and the only Oiler related news available right now consists of trade rumors for Souray and the state of Cogliano’s contract negotiations, so this counts as significant news.

Kevin Lowe is a huge part of the Oilers history. Everyone already knows the facts but they’re worth repeating: he was the clubs first pick in the 1979 entry draft; he scored the teams first goal in the NHL; he was a part of all five Oiler Stanley Cup winning teams; he has served time as the team’s captain, coach, and general manager; and he is the only Oiler to play more that 1000 games for the team. Bruce McCurdy thought enough of Lowe to include him on the Oilers Mount Puckmore. Regardless of what you might think of some of his most recent work in the Oilers front office you can’t deny his impact on the history of the Oilers.

I’m not concerned that Hall wearing the number will somehow tarnish or overshadow what Lowe did with the club; after all, they’re completely different hockey players and the only thing they have in common is that they were both first round picks. There is the symbolism of Lowe passing the number on to the next generation of the Oilers too. Hall is the teams first ever number one selection and the team is probably at it’s lowest since it joined the NHL in 1979. I can’t deny that I like the symbolism here. I hope that one day I’m able to look back at the selection of Taylor Hall as a turning point for this franchise; maybe it will look like a no-brainer along  the line of protecting Gretzky in the 1979 expansion draft. But still I don’t like Hall wearing the number 4.

Hall has said previously that he wouldn’t ask Lowe for the number and I respect him for that. It shows that he has a grasp of the history of the Oilers and where Lowe fits into that history. If Hall didn’t ask for it then I think we can assume that it was probably Lowe’s idea to offer it to him. My impression of Lowe has always been that he would do anything he felt was good for the Oilers and their fans, and this fits with that impression. I think it’s a classy move by Lowe. I don’t blame Hall for taking the number either; if I was offered something that I wanted I doubt I would turn it down. Still I would have liked Hall to turn it down anyway.

Someday Lowe will have his number 4 raised to the rafters of Rexall Place (maybe a shiny new Rexall Place just off 104 Ave) alongside Hamilton, Gretzky, Kurri, Fuhr, Coffey, Messier, and Anderson; an honor which he will richly deserve. Until he leaves the Oilers though this will not happen. Maybe that reason, more than anything else explains why Lowe decided to offer the number to Hall now. If Lowe is planning to be around the club for a long time there’s no need to rush things and hold onto a jersey number for a retirement ceremony that is still years and years away. If Lowe wants Hall to wear the number should I really care? It is just a number in the grand scheme of things, a team that finished thirtieth out of thirty teams certainly has bigger issues. They do and I probably shouldn’t care but I do all the same for some reason.

As I write this I realize that there really isn’t a good reason for Hall to not wear the number 4 other than a gut feeling that it just isn’t right. It’s a number on a jersey and it has no impact on what happens on the ice but I like that when I think of the number 4 and the Oilers I think of Lowe (when I think of 4 I think of Orr) and nobody else. It is a nice piece of history that I will be sad to see go. For a club that always seems to have one eye on the rear view mirror looking back fondly at past accomplishments it strikes me as especially odd that they chose not to honor their history in this situation.

  1. September 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    “Someday Lowe will has his number 4 raised to the rafters of Rexall Place”

    Hopefully not.

    I like the standard the Oilers have set: HOF = Jersey Retirement*. The last thing I want to see is Trevor Linden or Mike Verson-esque** jersey retirements in Edmonton.

    *Al Hamilton grandfather clause being the only exception to the rule.
    ** I’m not saying Linden=Vernon=Lowe. Vernon’s glove side was good to the Oilers over the years, but that’s it. Linden’s greatest achievement is playing for a bad team for a long time. That’s worth honouring? Blech.

    • September 8, 2010 at 2:05 pm

      I love the standard of retired numbers belonging to Hall of Famers. That said I don’t think Lowe should be excluded because his contributions to the team are just too numerous not to honor. In fact I wouldn’t be surprised if the combination of his playing days and front office work, including what he’s done with Hockey Canada, gets him into the HHOF someday.

      Do I want Linden type players up there, no. But Lowe is better than that in my opinion. And hey Linden is still better that Bourque in Colorado right?

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