Gregor discusses the season with Horcoff

Horcoff scores on a hapless goalie

You know that feeling of dread when you stroll up to a party of your better half’s co-workers, or going out with your buddy after his wife/gf just dumped him, or your annual evaluation with the boss. You walk in wishing you could be somewhere else.

At the party you are forced to talk to people you don’t know or don’t like, and then you have to stay sober so the lady can have her three coolers.

Your buddy is devastated and maybe even cries. You feel awkward and try to convince him to just get drunk and hit on another girl. This turns out to be the worst advice because after six beers and a few shots, he is telling you about how he can’t go on without her. Even worse he talks to a girl and starts telling her about his ex. You watch in horror as he crashes and burns because you know he will come to you looking to be consoled.

Your boss asks you all sorts of impossible-to-answer-correctly type of questions.

What are you goals for next year?

What are your weaknesses?

How do you plan to maximize your time?

As the sweat beads down your brow, you struggle through the agonizing 30 minutes relieved just to get out of there without having to hear about his family holiday.

Well today that’s how it felt at Oilers practice. None of them wanted to be there, and neither did any media types. They might has well have had the game-day music director playing one of his usual downer songs in the locker room. (Honestly the music in the third period of the Kings game was the worst EVER).

Craig MacTavish wasn’t available, and since the Oilers won’t have a morning skate tomorrow or Saturday, MacTavish will only do post-game interviews until Monday when the Oilers have their final availability.

The Oil have missed the playoffs five of MacTavish’s last seven years, but I can’t recall a time where he went unavailable for three straight mornings. It signifies how distraught and disappointed the organization is as a whole.

They expected better, they expected to compete for the division, not a top-ten draft pick.

Is MacT’s unusual silence foreshadowing a move this summer? I sure think so. Granted there isn’t much he can say right now about the team, but I think his silence shows he doesn’t want to talk about the future, at least not until the season is over.

Outside of the coach’s future, another hot topic this summer will be how can Shawn Horcoff possibly live up to his $7 million deal next year?

Horcoff, was the consummate pro today and stood in and answered my questions.


JG: Did you play more power on power this year, and did it hinder your offence?

SH: I definitely played in more defensive situations and more defensive minutes this year than the previous two. Could I still have produced more offence with the role I had this year? Absolutely. I didn’t get off to the start I wanted. For whatever reason the first 15 to 20 games were a tough start for me. I need to work on something this summer and be better offensively next year.

JG: That contract doesn’t start until next season. When you signed it, was the expectation to be in a situation where you could live up to it? Do you need to be put in a situation where you will be given an opportunity to live up to it?

SH: I didn’t get that contract just off my offensive numbers, though, I think that’s what people need to realize. What puts me in that type of pay scale is a lot of the intangibles that I bring, the situations that I play, the minutes, the face-offs and the defensive minutes. But you are probably right, in order to put up 65 to 70+ points a year, you have to play offensive situation and pure offensive minutes. Without those minutes, it will be tough for anyone. But I have to finish better, that’s obvious.

JG: You led the league in face-offs, and played a lot of minutes. There’s a big difference between playing 20 minutes rather than 24. Were you fatigued at times?

SH: For the first time in my career, this year there were times where I hit rock-bottom maybe a little bit. There were games with 26, 25, 24 minutes and they’re not easy minutes. I’m a centreman who plays in a lot of defensive situations, with a lot of skating. I tried to stay in the best shape possible, but there are times in the schedule where it’s impossible. You’re playing seven games in 12 nights on the road and it’s impossible to get recovery time.

I talked to Mac numerous times during the year about trying to lower the minutes, and get guys in different situations, but at the end of the day he said it was a matter of having confidence and being able to get it done.

For me, I won’t question anything (ice-time) that comes my way. I enjoy the minutes. You want to be on the ice and play as much as you can. I think hockey players have that attitude that they are unbreakable and won’t get tired. But I think this year showed me that at times you can play too many minutes.

JG: When Oates was here did he help you that much in the face-off? Can you parlay that advice to Cogliano and Gagner?

SH: Oates helped me a little bit. I had a pretty decent base to start with, though. With face-offs you have to find something that works for yourself and you have to work on them. It’s a lot of timing now with the new rules not being able to cheat. You have to work on it throughout the year. It’s a lot of hand strength, wrist strength and the best guys in the league are really strong on their stick. It takes time to learn the guys around the league and what their tendencies are and what they like to do. And there is a big mental aspect to it. Face-offs are tough. I think you either have it or you don’t. With hard work you can get better, but you need a good base.

Cogs wants to get better. He asks a lot of questions and he has been working on it. He is still young and I think he will get better.


Make no mistake; Horcoff understands he will be under the radar more than ever next year. Regardless of his intangibles, he will need to score closer to 75-80 points to appease the masses and come close to living up to his new contract.

It was clear from Horcoff and a few others that this year really hurt. You could tell they believed they were better than an 11th place team. I’ve covered this team during the other four non-playoff years, and I never sensed they were this annoyed.

Sure, they were disappointed when they missed the playoffs in 2008, 2007, 2004 and 2002 but this year their faces were longer, their words shorter and the heartbreak deeper.

Too often lately the summer has filled the fans with more hope and belief than the actual games.

This summer, the personnel changes, the draft picks and the free-agent signings have to be ones that will make this organization better. A summer of discontent is unacceptable.

  • Tyler

    I just took a look through the CBA again. I don't see anything that supports Gregor's interpretation. Where the specific dollars matter is for calculating the player's share of league revenue, which is irrelevant to the Oilers.

  • Tyler wrote:

    Gregor
    I am virtually certain that you just got it wrong again on the radio. There is no second cap based on the dollar figures for that year. You just cited the Rangers – they look to be spending $65MM according to NHLscap.com this year. I doubt it’s off by $9MM.

    Go back and read your nhlscap.com…it says actual salary and payroll salary…there is a difference. I know for a fact there is a single season salary cap. I've had Rick Olcyzk on the show many times to explain this. Go back and read your site again..look at the difference between payroll salary and actual…when a player gets hurt, if he goes on LIR, then that portion of his yearly salary while he is hurt doesn't count against the cap.

    Why did the Flames only dress 16 skaters for a few games??? Because they couldn't recall anyone even with minimum salary.

    Remember this…There are 186 days in the season…and the salary cap is broken down into that proportion.

    When the Rangers traded for Derek Morris they didn't take on all of his 3.9 million dollar salary. THere was 39 days left in the season so they had to pay $800,000 of his salary…thus for them he became a cap hit of 800,000 not the full contract.

  • Tyler's correct about salary cap hits. He references the Rangers but there are plenty of other teams who are exceeding the cap in terms of total salary this year.

    Only the average number in the player's contract is counted against the salary cap – which means that Shawn Horcoff has a 5.5-million cap hit regardless if his salary is 7 million or 3 million. Only the average counts against the cap.

  • Tyler

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Why did the Flames only dress 16 skaters for a few games??? Because they couldn’t recall anyone even with minimum salary.

    Sure, because they weren't putting anyone onto LTIR and getting the cap relief. They had injured guys who were still on the roster and eating cap space.

    I don't know what Olczyck told you – I haven't heard the interview – but you don't have it right. Go read s. 50 of the CBA and see if you can find anything that says anything near what you think the rule is.

  • Tyler wrote:

    I just took a look through the CBA again. I don’t see anything that supports Gregor’s interpretation. Where the specific dollars matter is for calculating the player’s share of league revenue, which is irrelevant to the Oilers.

    The team can not pay out more than the cap of each individual season. That is a fact. If you don't believe it, then you have no comprehension of the cap. Injured players payroll does not count against the cap if a team puts a player on long term IR. If he is on regular IR for ten games, then his salary still counts against the yearly cap.

    What would be the point of having a yearly cap if teams could go over it…by front loading contracts and then having them with smaller salary at the back.

    Then a team would sign all their players to front loaded contracts…You obviously don't understand the Cap. Rick Olczyk has been on my show explaining this many times. I will take his insight over yours.

  • Tyler

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Then a team would sign all their players to front loaded contracts…You obviously don’t understand the Cap. Rick Olczyk has been on my show explaining this many times. I will take his insight over yours.

    Is the clip archived on your site?

  • Tyler wrote:

    Sure, because they weren’t putting anyone onto LTIR and getting the cap relief. They had injured guys who were still on the roster and eating cap space.

    No because with less than ten games to go you CAN't put anyone on IR. You clearly don't know as much as you think you do. Sometimes it is better to just believe people (Olczyk) who know the ins and outs of their job.

    Also if you seem to think there is no individual yearly cap then why couldn't they just have called somebody up??? See the error of your ways yet?

  • Jorge

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Jorge wrote:
    you would trade horcoff straight up for 4 to 6 people on that list? I deffinitely would. So wouldnt that mean Horcoff isn’t worth what his cap hit is?
    Which four would you trade straight up? And do you think the other team would do it?

    No I hightly doubt any of the teams would be interested in trading straight up horcoff for their center but of the list i like:

    Patrick Marleau 6.3
    Mike Richards 5.75
    Ryan Getzlaf 5.325
    Marc Savard 5
    Jeff Carter 5
    Jason Arnott 4.5

  • Ogden Brother

    Tyler wrote:

    Gregor
    I am virtually certain that you just got it wrong again on the radio. There is no second cap based on the dollar figures for that year. You just cited the Rangers – they look to be spending $65MM according to NHLscap.com this year. I doubt it’s off by $9MM.

    Sens have $62 as well…

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    What would be the point of having a yearly cap if teams could go over it…by front loading contracts and then having them with smaller salary at the back.
    Then a team would sign all their players to front loaded contracts…You obviously don’t understand the Cap. Rick Olczyk has been on my show explaining this many times. I will take his insight over yours.

    Jason, how then do you explain the Rangers current payroll situation, which has them exceeding the salary cap?

  • Phil

    Jon K wrote:

    What do people think Horcoff’s value is to this team?
    The realization most fail to make is that Horcoff is likely this team’s MVP, perhaps with a hat tip to Roloson.
    Replace Horcoff with another centre that doesn’t have his faceoff prowess and ability to log big minutes against tough opposition and the Edmonton Oilers are a bottom 5 team this season.

    Haha, that's what everyone said last year. They ended up being fine.

    Horcoff is overrating himself. One cocky SOB.

    Talkin' bout "intangibles" when he's gonna be makin' a cool 7 mill next year, gimme a f*ckin' break.

  • Ogden Brother

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    Tyler’s correct about salary cap hits. He references the Rangers but there are plenty of other teams who are exceeding the cap in terms of total salary this year.
    Only the average number in the player’s contract is counted against the salary cap – which means that Shawn Horcoff has a 5.5-million cap hit regardless if his salary is 7 million or 3 million. Only the average counts against the cap.

    …..uh oh

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    Also if you seem to think there is no individual yearly cap then why couldn’t they just have called somebody up???

    He didn't say there wasn't an individual yearly cap, just that for the purposes of that cap the average of the player's total contract, rather than the salary for that year, is counted.

  • This also from page 204 of the CBA:

    Illustration #1: A Club signs a Player to a three-year SPC providing for $500,000 in Player Salary and Bonuses in Year 1, $600,000 in Year 2, and $700,000 in Year 3. The charge to the Club's Averaged Club Salary in all three years of the SPC is $600,000.

  • Jack "FMNF" Bauer

    Okay so lets simplify this.

    You cant have a yearly payroll that exceeds $56 million correct? So for next year Horcoff's hit is $7.00 even though his cap is 5.5, but on the flip side Hemsky's hit is 3.6 even though his cap hit is 4.1. So for those two players they count $10.6 million of $56 million against this yearly annual cap?

    BUT your also saying we have this average cap, which cant exceed $56 million yes? So for next year using Horcoff and Hemsky that cap hit is only $9.6 million right?

  • Tyler wrote:

    Jason Gregor wrote:
    Then a team would sign all their players to front loaded contracts…You obviously don’t understand the Cap. Rick Olczyk has been on my show explaining this many times. I will take his insight over yours.
    Is the clip archived on your site?

    I don't archive interviews longer than a month. Let me explain this another way.

    The escrow value of Horcoff's contract will be determined on the 7 million that he gets paid next year, not 5.5 million. And with the % of escrow that players have to pay back, or recieve depending on the actual league revenue, that affects the cap.

    That is how it affects the yearly average. So technically not in a cap sense, but each individual year still affects the cap. The escrow hurts the players more than the teams, but it still impacts the cap.

  • Tyler

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    No because with less than ten games to go you CAN’t put anyone on IR. You clearly don’t know as much as you think you do. Sometimes it is better to just believe people (Olczyk) who know the ins and outs of their job.

    Just so we're clear, I believe Olczyk knows what he's doing. If it was him telling me this, I'd take it a little more seriously. If he actually believed it and wasn't able to show me the CBA provision, I'd be a little concerned. As it is, I think that you probably misunderstood him.

    Also if you seem to think there is no individual yearly cap then why couldn’t they just have called somebody up??? See the error of your ways yet?

    I do think that there's an individual cap. Calgary's problem is that the average annual value of their contracts maxes out the cap. That's why they can't call anyone up. It's not a situation where they're at $52MM in cap hit and $56.7MM in actual 2008-09 dollars and they can't bring anyone up, which is what it would take to prove your point.

    I've actually now very quickly looked over s. 50 of the CBA and I don't see anything that conforms with what you're saying. I see a lot of language like:

    "Actual Club Salary" shall mean the entire aggregate amount committed by each Club in a League Year, annualized, but calculated daily, to be paid out or earned as Player Salaries and Bonuses calculated in accordance with this Section 50.2(c). Actual Club Salary does not include Benefits. Actual Club Salary is utilized to calculate the League-Wide Player Compensation, as contrasted with Averaged Club Salary, set forth in Section 50.5(d)(i) below, which is utilized to calculate a Club's Payroll Room.

    "Averaged Club Salary" is defined as basing its Player Salaries on the "Averaged Amount" or, in Horcoff's case, $5.5MM.

  • Jorge wrote:

    No I hightly doubt any of the teams would be interested in trading straight up horcoff for their center but of the list i like:
    Patrick Marleau 6.3
    Mike Richards 5.75
    Ryan Getzlaf 5.325
    Marc Savard 5
    Jeff Carter 5
    Jason Arnott 4.5

    Doesn't that just back my point, that it will be highly unlikely that Horcoff can live up to his salary. All of those players have scored way more. How do you put Horcoff in their category???

  • However, this may be where the confusion comes from. Page 189-190 of the CBA:

    "Actual Club Salary." "Actual Club Salary" shall mean the entire aggregate amount committed by each Club in a League Year, annualized, but calculated daily, to be paid or earned as Player Salaries and Bonuses in that League Year (and which is intended to include any and all other commitments to Players as set forth below), with such Player Salaries and Bonuses calculated in accordance with this Section 50.2(c). Actual Club Salary does not include Benefits. Actual Club Salary is utilized to calculate the League-wide Player Compensation, as contrasted with Averaged Club Salary, set forth in Section 50.5(d)(i) below, which is utilized to determine a Club's Payroll Room. For purposes of calculating League-wide Player Compensation for a given League Year, as set forth in the Final HRR Report, the Actual Club Salary shall include the Players' Salaries and Bonuses and any other amounts of money paid by the Clubs (except that Deferred Salaries and Deferred Bonuses are included in Actual Club Salary in the League Year when earned, not when paid), including any amounts deposited into the Escrow Account.

    As I read it, the actual salary is calculated solely for the purpose of escrow – with payroll room being determined bu averaged salary.

    I'd love to hear that clip with Olczyk though if you have it Jason – reading legalese isn't my strongest field.

  • Jason Gregor wrote:

    The escrow value of Horcoff’s contract will be determined on the 7 million that he gets paid next year, not 5.5 million. And with the % of escrow that players have to pay back, or recieve depending on the actual league revenue, that affects the cap.
    That is how it affects the yearly average. So technically not in a cap sense, but each individual year still affects the cap. The escrow hurts the players more than the teams, but it still impacts the cap.

    This fits with what I've read, but that shouldn't affect the Oilers salary cap situation as a team, should it?

  • Jorge

    Jason Gregor wrote:

    Jorge wrote:
    No I hightly doubt any of the teams would be interested in trading straight up horcoff for their center but of the list i like:
    Patrick Marleau 6.3
    Mike Richards 5.75
    Ryan Getzlaf 5.325
    Marc Savard 5
    Jeff Carter 5
    Jason Arnott 4.5
    Doesn’t that just back my point, that it will be highly unlikely that Horcoff can live up to his salary. All of those players have scored way more. How do you put Horcoff in their category???

    Jason I said right from the beginning that I don't think Horcoff deserve the contract it was Matt N that was arguing the opposite.

  • Tyler

    Assuming that this is an accurate representation of what Olczyk said, I'm right – you misunderstood him.

    The escrow value of Horcoff’s contract will be determined on the 7 million that he gets paid next year, not 5.5 million.

    This is accurate. Escrow is a flat rate, applied to a player's actual salary.

    And with the % of escrow that players have to pay back, or recieve depending on the actual league revenue, that affects the cap.

    This has nothing to do with what the Oilers can spend or the cap. The purpose of escrow is to ensure that the players are in a position to compensate the owners if the contracts call for more dollars than the players are entitled to.

    That is how it affects the yearly average. So technically not in a cap sense, but each individual year still affects the cap. The escrow hurts the players more than the teams, but it still impacts the cap.

    It doesn't affect the cap. The escrow adjusts the players compensation on a pro-rata basis to ensure that they don't get more or less than their defined percentage of league revenue. So Horcoff's $7MM next year might be worth a little less if the actual dollars called for in contracts next year exceeds the amount that the players are entitled to.

    The key here, though, is that this is done on a league wide basis. It's not done an a team by team basis. Even if it was, there's simply nothing in the CBA that prohibits teams from committing more actual dollars than "cap dollars" in an individual year. It just gets clawed back from the players as a whole.

  • Tyler

    Jonathan Willis wrote:

    I’d love to hear that clip with Olczyk though if you have it Jason – reading legalese isn’t my strongest field.

    I do it every now and again – like I say, if the clip is available, I'd like to hear what Olczyk actually says but based on my reading of the CBA, Gregor is just wrong.

    I assume he'll retract the "moron" gibe in due course.

  • Jack "FMNF" Bauer

    "Thanks for pointing that out Einstein, because none of us see that it is a gradual decline, especially for the first four years. What you, in all your infinite wisdom, fail to realize is that Horcoff’s seven million next season counts towards the CAP for next year."

    Ohhh the irony.

  • Dan

    I just want Horcoff to play with Moreau and Pisani and form the best checking line in hockey. In terms of the contract, whats done is done. I just want Horcoff to work on his shot blocking, brush up on faceoffs, one on battles, PK work, and sharpen up his hockey IQ.

    Anybody who is expecting him to put up points to match the salary is going to be sorely disappointed. I just want him to to do the little things without having to hinder Hemsky in the process. I just want him to help the team win.

    Also, if anyone sees Horcoff practising one-timers over the summer, do us all a favor and go snap his stick in half.