There are times when news breaks, but it's just not a story that requires a recap or in-depth analysis, and that's how we felt about yesterday's news that Kevin Lowe handed the #4 jersey to Taylor Hall. But after we started reading fan reaction, including the many curves of the Oilogosphere, we noticed that this was apparently a momentous occasion, worthy of more than just platitudes. Chappy said, "I don’t care what you say, it’s a big deal." and Copper & Blue Member Doritogrande said in a FanPost, "What he's doing today is no small deal. He had every right to say no to the wunderkid, and I would have agreed 100% with his decision to do so."
The people have spoken and this, indeed, is big news. So the authors here considered the question and weighed in: Taylor Hall has selected the retired #4 of Kevin Lowe and Lowe gave the young man his blessing. Is this a big deal to you? If so, are you against Hall wearing #4? Why?
Ben: I could not possibly care whether Taylor wears #4 or #44 or #400. Kevin Lowe was quite a good player in his time, but he wasn't a Hockey Hall of Famer and the arguments to retire his number have been few and far between. Really, I'd be more worried about his wearing Jean Beliveau's number as a forward, since how many #4 forwards have there been? Just score more goals and get more assists than the other team and the rest is details.
Bruce: I think it is kind of a big deal in a symbolic way. While Lowe is not (yet) a Hall of Famer, there's a very strong case to be made that he belongs in the ring of honour. In many ways the poster boy for the Old Boys Club, K-Lowe has clearly cast his lot with the present - and the future - with this classy move. I personally think the ol' #4 will look a lot better with Taylor Hall wearing it and making good things happen on the ice, than it would dangling inertly from the rafters. Lets hope Hall makes Lowe as proud of this decision as Ron Ellis did Ace Bailey in a similar situation four decades ago.
Derek: I'm not a fan of retiring numbers in the first place, so no, this is not a big deal to me personally. I don't see the point in hanging a number from the ceiling and looking at it for the next fifty years. It's just a number and in the long run the number is meaningless - the player matters. Players change numbers all of the time, from team to team and no one bats an eye. Put the person's name in a Ring of Honor, a Hall of Heroes, or a team Hall of Fame and hand out the number the following season to whoever wants to try to live up to some hallowed number.
Jaysen: This franchise lives and dies with two things: selling the past and selling the future. The present ain't all that pretty. And that is just the way it is in Edmonton. Reminds me of the spam I get at my old e-mail address, it doesn't matter how dodgy the e-mail is - somebody's buying. Someone NEEDS what is being sold. Regardless of how sensible his current contract might be, Sam Gagner was brought into this league two years too early and he will be a UFA sooner than we think. Bringing Hall in this early is comparable.
Lowe is my favorite player, ever, and I fully expect him to make into the Hall of Fame one day (lets face it, with 6 Stanley Cup rings - were he a Leaf - he would have been voted in twice by now). Letting Hall use his jersey number IS a nice touch, it really is, but don't mistake it for anything but what it is - a team willing to screw it's future in order to exploit the past because that is all that sells in the present.
Lisa: Taylor Hall being given the Oilers unofficially retired #4 is, in my mind, a big deal. Kevin Lowe was not only the Oilers' first round draft pick in 1979 but also the Oilers' first ever draft pick. What did this first overall draft pick do? He scored the Oilers' first ever NHL goal, and he went on to be a core member of the dynasty Oilers' team. By allowing Taylor Hall, the first ever first overall pick in Oilers' history, to wear the previously unofficially retired number four, the Oilers are recognizing that there is a new hope in town, and with any luck, this is the start of a new dynasty. It's hard not to expect big things from Taylor, well if you weren't before, as much as we want to think that a number is just a number, hockey fans know that it is so much more.
Neal: The Lowe/Hall jersey number discussion kind of resembles pledging a college fraternity as a legacy. You may have gotten an invite to rush week by having a brother who pledged the same house, but you still have to prove you deserve it. Sure, give him the #4 because he might be the future of the organization, but step up and earn the right to wear it proudly. Embrace history while making it at the same time.