Hall puts 4 on the floor

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

To you from failing hands we throw the torch, be it yours to hold high.

A passage from Flanders Fields, adopted as a motto by the Montreal Canadiens.

They dont have any spare torches in Edmonton at the moment, so the failing hands of Oilers management threw Taylor Hall a 4 instead.

Right now its 4 on the floor, Kevin Lowes number back in play on the last-place team in the NHL, but by dusting off a piece of storied history and entrusting it to an 18-year-old, they announced Wednesday that the future means more than the past.

Kevin seemed pretty adamant in passing on the torch, said the new face of the franchise. He thought it would be a pretty good idea for me to wear it and start a new era. Talking to everyone, fans and everyone, they thought it would be a pretty cool idea.

Why not? An organization that clings to yesterday like few others is now so heavily invested in tomorrow it cant afford to look back. Theyve sunk so much hope into the three kids who received their colours on Wednesday Hall, Jordan Eberle (No. 14) and Magnus Paajarvi (91) that it doesnt really matter what numbers they wear, as long as they wear them well.

Pressure on Hall to wear No. 4? Yeah, like there wouldnt be any pressure on Hall if he wore No. 8.

For all the franchise-saving thats expected of these new kids on the block, they might as well don 99, 11 and 17.

Theres always pressure, so I dont think a number is going to change that, said Hall, well aware that the weight of a city will be riding on his shoulder pads regardless of what digits are on his back. I still have to be the same player.

Its not the first time the Oilers gave a retired stars number to a rookie in anticipation of him resurrecting the franchise: Jason Arnott inherited Paul Coffeys No. 7 when he came to Edmonton. A special number for a special player, former equipment guy Sparky Kulchisky said at the time.

The same formula applies here. Only when Sparky said it the Oilers were only three years removed from a championship, not 21.

If time has taught them anything, its this: Be it recent debacles or long-ago championships, there no future in the past. So grab whatever numbers you like, boys, and help make this thing right again.

When we become a good team theyre going to be a huge part of that success, said general manager Steve Tambellini. Theyre going to be together for a long time, hopefully.

Its pretty significant for someone whos won six Stanley Cups to present that No. 4 to a young man, Im sure Taylor is very proud. Hopefully the same amount of wins come out of it.

Lowe has always been a team-first guy, so clinging to his number never really crossed his mind. In fact, he says itll be exciting to see it action again, on a player who might just do it justice.

He looks right in No. 4, said Lowe. I wanted to make sure he wanted to wear it, I didnt want to assume anything, but I knew from the moment I laid eyes on him that if we drafted him he was going to get No. 4.

It wasnt difficult by any stretch. I talked to enough people, wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing, sending the right messages.

That yesterday is taking a back seat to tomorrow.

robert.tychkowski@sunmedia.ca


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