The Edmonton Oilers and Taylor Hall say a CBC report that the rookie and his family pressured a reluctant Kevin Lowe into turning over No.4 before the season is total fabrication.
And it appears it was. The CBC pulled the story Friday evening while its author, Mark Seidel, sent an e-mail to the Oilers apologizing for the piece, saying “I am fully confident that these events did not happen as I layed them out in the article.”
It all started Thursday afternoon when the CBC.ca website put up a story accusing “Team Hall” of demanding the number he wore in Windsor, regardless of what Lowe or the Oilers felt about it.
“Team Hall’s approach to securing the No. 4 sweater has bothered a lot of people both inside and outside the Edmonton Oilers’ organization,” wrote Seidel, who didn’t provide any sources, named or anonymous. “We all assumed that Hall wouldn’t dare raise the issue of taking Lowe’s famous number. We were wrong and once it became apparent that this was the Team Hall plan, a lot of people in the game were outraged.”
Lowe, who wore 4 for his entire career, vehemently denied the CBC report and Hall himself rolled his eyes at the story.
“I was pretty surprised when I heard it,” said the 18-year-old. “My dad called me mid-afternoon and told me, ‘There’s this article...’ I don’t care what it says about me, because I can take that, it’s more my family because they’re not used to that stuff. When they say stuff about my dad, that’s kind of hard to take.”
Hall has no idea where the allegation would come from, other than someone’s imagination.
“I didn’t even know I was wearing the number until before camp when Kevin called,” he said. “Two weeks before camp I was visiting my billets in Windsor and he gave me a call. We started talking about the number. He brought it up; he said he thought I’d look great in it and said that it might make me a little more comfortable coming into camp wearing my own number. Other than that I didn’t even think about it. That was pretty much it. I said OK.”
Hall said in face-to-face scrums with reporters for weeks before receiving No.4 that he didn’t care what number he wore and, in fact, he might want to steer away from 4 because of the added pressure that might come with it.
“I was prepared to wear 19, 44, I had a few numbers in mind,” he said, adding it’s ridiculous that somebody in his position would try a power play before he’d even played an NHL game. “I wasn’t even on the team yet! It’s kind of hard to have a number unless you’re on the team.
“I’m not worried about me, I can take this stuff because I know what happened, but it’s tough when they say things like Team Hall.”
Hall then laughed at the CBC headline about his “obsession” with No.4.
“Yeah,” he chuckled. “Back home we don’t even have paint on the walls of our house, just a whole bunch of 4s.”
Calls to CBC and the CBC.ca website for clarification were not returned, but the story was gone from the web page Friday evening and Seidel was no longer listed among its bloggers.