Edmonton's Taylor Hall shoulders the franchise's future, takes Kevin Lowe's number

taylorhall2.jpgWhile last year was one to forget for the Edmonton Oilers, the future is shaping up to potentially great. Today, the Oilers introduced three of their rookies who could be the cornerstones of the next wave of Oilers greats in Taylor Hall, Magnus Paajarvi and Jordan Eberle. One of those three will be wearing a number that’s been worn by only one other player in Oilers history.

With eyes fixed on the future, the Edmonton Oilers reached into their storied past Wednesday as president of hockey operations Kevin Lowe presented Taylor Hall with jersey No. 4.

In a symbolic and timely gesture, Lowe, the Oilers’ first-ever draft pick and only player to wear the number since Edmonton entered the NHL in 1979, passed his No. 4 to Hall, the centrepiece of a full-scale rebuild in Edmonton and the franchise’s first No. 1 overall draft pick.

“It’s a very cool number,” Hall said. “It’s just kind of passing the torch, you know?

“He’s been a big part of this organization for a very long time and I realize that. At the same time, they feel I’m a player who can come in and make an impact. Maybe wearing this No. 4 is going to do that.”

Hall wore No. 4 with the Windsor Spitfires in the OHL and after being drafted by the Oilers, most fans wondered if he would get to wear his number. With Lowe being an executive with the Oilers and being the only guy to wear the number, some thought it might not happen even though the number isn’t retired. Instead, Lowe gave Hall his blessing to wear it. Clearly, the Oilers aren’t worried about putting any pressure on Hall.

It’s expected that all three players in Hall, Paajarvi, and Eberle will start the year in Edmonton and stick there and why shouldn’t they? The Oilers were brutal last year and while Ales Hemsky and Sheldon Souray were out for most of the season and Nikolai Khabibulin’s back wouldn’t allow him to play, hopes are high in Edmonton and while it may not pay off immediately, the amount of fun young talent there will eventually pay off. This is just the beginning.

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    Ulf Samuelsson leaves Rangers, takes Carolina’s AHL gig

    Ulf Samuelsson, Alain Vigneault
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    The ‘Canes made a fairly big coaching splash on Tuesday, announcing they hired New York Rangers assistant coach Ulf Samuelsson to become the new bench boss in AHL Charlotte.

    “Ulf has built a very strong coaching resume during a decade behind the bench in the AHL, NHL and Swedish league,” Carolina GM Ron Francis said in a release. “He has a proven history of helping to develop young players and understands the organizational culture that we are building here.”

    Samuelsson, who won back-to-back Stanley Cups with Francis in Pittsburgh during the 90s, has spent the last three seasons as Alain Vigneault’s right-hand man in New York, helping the Rangers advance to the Stanley Cup Final in ’14 and the Eastern Conference Final last season.

    Prior to joining the Rangers, he spent two seasons as head coach for Modo of the Swedish Hockey League.

    Samuelsson will replace Mark Morris in Charlotte, after Morris accepted the head coaching gig at St. Lawrence University. Morris had only been on the job for one year, having inherited the position from former ‘Cane Jeff Daniels.

    Report: Marleau won’t face supplemental discipline for hit on Rust

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    It sounds like Patrick Marleau won’t be suspended for his hit on Penguins forward Bryan Rust (top) in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday night, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    After the game, Marleau told reporters that he was pretty confident he wouldn’t be suspended and it sounds like he’s right.

    Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan didn’t see things the same way.

    “It’s a blindside hit to the head,” he said. “[Marleau] gets a penalty and I’m sure the league will look at it.”

    Marleau was given a two-minute penalty for an illegal hit to the head on the play.

    Rust played a single shift after taking the hit, but he went to the locker room after that and didn’t return. Sullivan said he’s day-to-day. It’s unclear if Rust will practice with the team on Tuesday.

    Former Flyer Rick MacLeish passes away at age 66

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    Former Philadelphia Flyers forward Rick MacLeish passed away on Monday night. He was 66-years-old. The organization confirmed the news early Tuesday morning. MacLeish was battling meningitis as well as kidney and liver problems, per Philly.com.

    “With the passing of Rick MacLeish, the Flyers have lost one of their legends,” Flyers President Paul Holmgren said in a release. “A good father, grandfather, teammate and friend, Rick will be missed by all who were fortunate to come and know him over the years. His happy and friendly demeanor was front and center everywhere Rick went. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Rick’s wife, Charlene, his daughters, Danielle and Brianna along with his grandchildren. May he rest in peace.”

    MacLeish first put on a Flyers jersey during the 1970-71 season. He would go on to score 349 goals and 759 points in 846 NHL games with Philadelphia, Hartford, Pittsburgh and Detroit. MacLeish also scored what is considered to be the most important goal in Flyers history when he netted the opening goal in Game 6 of the 1974 Stanley Cup Final against Boston. The Flyers would clinch their first Stanley Cup that night.

    He won a pair of Stanley Cups with the Flyers and was named an NHL All-Star three times in his career.

    PHT Morning Skate: Nick Bonino has been pretty clutch this postseason

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    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    Pascal Dupuis wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune.

    Matt Cullen also wrote a piece for The Players’ Tribune called “Hockey Dad”.

    Dainius Zubrus is making his third trip to the cup final, but he still hasn’t won one. (Puck Daddy)

    –Watch the highlights from Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final. (Top)

    –Here’s the Punjabi call of Nick Bonino‘s game-winning goal. (Streamable)

    –Speaking of Bonino, he’s been pretty clutch this postseason:

    –The NHL still wants to play an outdoor game on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. (Ottawa Sun)