Kevin Lowe—An Oiler Original
Of all the great players who have
worn Oilers’ colours over the team’s 25 years of
residency in the National Hockey
League, there may be
none who bleeds team colours more than Kevin Lowe.
The Lachute, Quebec-born defender was
the first-ever NHL draft choice of the Oilers in 1979,
selected with the last pick in the first round. He
scored the first-ever NHL goal in Oilers’ history
10, 1979, against the Chicago Blackhawks. He wore the
Oiler uniform on his chest more than any other man in
history; he suited up for the Oilers a record 1,037
times in his career, with 172 more playoff appearances.
Both are all-time highs in team history.
Regarded as an intense competitor,
expected success every time his skates
touched the ice. It is a tradition he continues today as
the current general manager
of the hockey club.
Lowe caught the attention of
Oilers’ scouts as the first-ever Anglo captain of the
Quebec Remparts; the same Quebec major junior hockey
club that had a decade before produced the great Guy Lafleur. Unlike most
defenceman who immediately play in the minors after the
draft, the Oilers thrust Lowe into the NHL schedule right away.
That first game was a launching pad
for a great Oilers’ career that saw Lowe participate in
all five of the team’s Stanley Cup wins. The Oilers
named him their defenceman of the year three times
(1982, 1987 and 1988), and he won the King Clancy Memorial
Trophy in 1990 for combining on-ice excellence with
community service. Lowe also proudly wore the red maple
leaf of the national team on his chest for two major
tournaments: the 1982 World Championships and the 1984
Canada Cup. He played in six All-Star games during his
time in Edmonton and named the captain of
the Oilers after Mark Messier joined the New York
Rangers in 1991.
A year later, he would reunite with
Messier in New York. He joined the Rangers for the 1992-93 season, and
again he was selected to play in the
All-Star Game for the seventh time in his career. The Rangers were an on-ice bust that season,
failing to miss the playoff, and costing Lowe his only
season out of the playoffs.
The next season Lowe, Messier and several of
their ex-Oiler teammates would be responsible for New
York's revival. The Rangers won
their first Stanley Cup in 54 years with a seven-game
final series victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Lowe
now has six rings in his possession.
Lowe remained with the Rangers until
1996, when the Oilers called him again. He returned to Edmonton, to act as a teacher and
a veteran presence for a young, exciting team. He played
64 games in the 1996-97 season, but injuries only
allowed him to play only seven games the following
year. He ended his playing career and immediately
embarked on his new vocation as an assistant coach. In
1999, he took over as head coach of the Oilers, guiding
the team to a playoff berth, and later the organization
named him the successor
to Glen Sather as the team’s general manager in 2000.
Later, he was named to the management team for the
Canadian national hockey program’s quest for a gold
medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics.