July 19 2010 12:27PM
We need good ice hockey here in the OilersNation. We have been kicked around, beaten down, walked out on, refused to be signed with and forced to watch injured players to beat the band.
It’s time for a change of pace and a return to respectability. The path to anywhere but here will be navigated in large part by the next Captain of the Edmonton Oilers.
As the long rainy Alberta summer marches on, we have been proposing and debating the different candidates for The Job. Last time out we took a look at Ales Hemsky and Mike Comrie and today we will spend some time taking a look at one of the more controversial candidates: BC Native Shawn Horcoff.
The fact that Shawn Horcoff is considered by many to be an overpaid multimillionaire, rich even by NHL standards is a particularly delicious piece of irony.
Once considered a long shot to play a regular shift at all, Horcoff willed himself to become a valuable 2-way player, clawing his way from NHL longshot to 4th line player to a point per game man with the ability to deliver valueable defensive hockey at the same time.
Many Horcoff haters forget the instrumental role he played in the SCF run of 2006. He was almost a point a game player during both the regular season and the playoffs that year and was widely considered to be one of the Oilers best players.
He followed up the Cup run with a disappointing season, but bounced back big time in 2007, returning to nearly a point-per-game status and an invitation to the 2008 All Star Game in Atlanta.
Ordinarily a fluffy game of shinny that has a better chance of boring someone to death than injuring anyone playing in the game – for Horcoff it is basically when everything fell to hell. Rumours that Horcoff had injured himself during the All Star Game began to fly in the days following the game as his play declined and he was forced to remove himself from the line up.
Whether he had aggrevated an existing injury or was actually impossibly hurt during the game, his 07-08 campaign came to a close shortly thereafter as he was forced to undergo season ending shoulder surgery in February 2008.
Then on July 16, 2008 everything changed.
This was the day when the money train pulled up to the Horcoff Mansion and didn't stop unloading bags of cash until he had inked a 6 year contract worth 33 million dollars. At the time, it was considered a coup for the Oilers, who were able to stop the long time migration of premiere NHL players to richer waters.
An Oiler his entire career, Horcoff was under lock and key until the 2014-15 Season.
''Shawn has proven himself as one of the premier players in the National Hockey League and has been and will continue to be an integral part of our organization moving forward,'' said Kevin Lowe at the announcement of the contract.
''By being proactive with this deal, we avoid being in a situation where Shawn could become an unrestricted free agent after next season and the unknown free agency can bring to the organization. Having him under contract long-term is something that has been on our radar for a long time and we are extremely pleased to finalize this deal.''
Perhaps it was being placed in the rarified air of the NHL elite or perhaps it was the damage done to his surgically repaired shoulder from lifting his now considerable wallet. For whatever reason, Horcoff has been unable to meet the massive expectations of his long term deal, attracting the rage of many of the OilersNation in the process.
Scorecoff, became Whiffcoff, Crapcoff, What-a-rip-coff and the poster boy for the Oilers woes in the seasons following the Cup run. The fact he can be brought up as a potential candidate for the next Captain of the Oilers is a testament to his value even under the burden of a massive contract.
One of the fittest players in the NHL, Horcoff can be accused of being many things – but his work ethic and dedication to the game cannot be among them. He hasn't complained once publicly during the past 4 seasons unlike many of his veteran brothers and has remained popular in the dressing room - reportedly shying away from the Souray-Moreau faction, instead focusing on his own game and returning to form.
This could be exactly what the 2010-11 Oilers need in a Captain.
We would argue that Shawn Horcoff isn't nearly as bad as his haters would have you believe. Would he be re-signed to the same deal if Lowe could go back in time? Obviously not. Is he as bad as his 36 point campaign in 2009-10 would lead you to believe? No.
Is he going anywhere with a cap hit of $5.5 milion until the end of the 2014-15 season? Get real.
If Horcoff is going to be here anyway – and best believe he will – making the mature veteran into the C13 might be an excellent way to derive further value from him for the next 5 years.
Maturity, dedication and the ability to function with a crippling case of heterochromia. Fitness, determination and the bank to lend any young Oilers money to tide them over until the next payday.
This is what Horcoff can bring to the table as the next Captain of the Oilers.