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.

Take a look:

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.

  • DougWeightProblem

    I guess what it comes down to is this … and maybe I’m being a little selfish here … I want a captain NEXT YEAR. There should be no trial period or three A’s crap. Gagner is too young, Whitney’s been here a month, Souray is on the out as a poisonous traitor, and Taylor Hall can’t make his bed yet, let alone lead men. Therefore Horcoff HAS to be the defacto captain. If you disagree, read the article above.

    *stick out tongue and shuts off the whole interwebs*

  • Ender

    Crash, A stopped watch is right twice a day. When Horcoff retires it’s not going to prove Traktor was right about Horcoff not belonging in the line up today.

    • DougWeightProblem

      Yes, but if Horcoff comes out and plays the same way this year as the last couple of years and then continues on the next year then it will show that Traktor was right about Horcoff not belonging in the lineup today…

  • Ender

    Crash wrote:

    I can understand their frustration too with statements made about a Horcoff that used to exist as though that Horcoff still exists

    In 07-08, Horcoff was 33rd in the NHL out of 852 skaters for points per game. Obviously, he didn’t repeat that in 08-09 or 09-10, so I think it’s clear that people shouldn’t put Horcoff in the same rarified air today that we had him in a couple of seasons ago.

    Nonetheless, I think people’s expectations of a top-six forward are a little off the mark. Last year, Jonathan Willis did an excellent piece on what a top-six forward in the NHL is (one of several, actually), and low and behold Horcoff was one. One of only two on the Oilers at that time, according to the league-metrics Jonathan used.

    Today, I showed that 192 skaters scored more points than Horcoff in 09-10. Divide those superior point-getters among 30 teams, you get each team having an average of 6.4 skaters (some of those being defensemen) who would have outscored Horcoff in this dismal year for him. In my books that means that he’s a top-six forward, even hurt.

    Look, you can argue that he played a lot of minutes and that he wouldn’t have scored as much if he had played less. That’s a circular argument that goes both ways. You could cut Henrik Sedin’s points in half too if you took away half his playing time. Horcoff played the minutes that he did because his coaches felt that he was the best member of the team at the time to be on the ice, the same as any other player in the league.

    The bottom line is that if someone doesn’t think that Horcoff is a top-six forward, I’d be interested to see their numbers showing why that is true. Maybe some people’s expectations are just a little high.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      “Nonetheless, I think people’s expectations of a top-six forward are a little off the mark.”

      That’s exactly it, everyones expectations are out of whack for almost every position.

      – First liners put up a PPG+

      – 2nd liners go 25/55

      etc etc

      when in reality the actual numbers are about 65% of those.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      The whole arguement is becoming circular I think, lol.

      To me if Horcoff or any player for that matter was at or near the bottom of a scoring list that places him just on the cusp of being a top six player with 36 pts and that player is now over 30 yrs old then the time has come for that player to be replaced in that top six.

      Yes you are correct in saying if you cut Henrik Sedin’s minutes in half that his numbers would be reduced but cutting H. Sedin’s minutes in half would definitely be to the detriment to his team. Whereas I don’t think you could say the same about Horcoff.

      The numbers you have shown are numbers good enough to show that Horcoff doesn’t belong in the top six anymore…maybe a couple of years ago he was a top six, but not now IMO.

      The numbers you use to determine a top six can’t just be goals and assists it has to be more than that…you have to look at all the numbers and decide if they are numbers that are tracking upwards, tracking downwards or staying the same and then decide.

      I don’t like Horcoff’s chances and like I mentioned before using only my own observations…He doesn’t have the skill set or hockey sense to succeed in a top six role or to make his team a better team in that role.

    • “The bottom line is that if someone doesn’t think that Horcoff is a top-six forward, I’d be interested to see their numbers showing why that is true.”

      These are the pertinent numbers.

      13 goals. 23 assists. -29 on the year. 32 years old (at the begining of next season). 1 Major shoulder surgery. 2.5 years at well below 100% health. Finished the season on the 3rd line. 2 other centres scored more than him on the 30th ranked club in the NHL.

      He isnt even an incumbent for the top 6 of the Oilers. He played his way off the top 6 last year. If anything we should be saying that Gagner and Brule are the top 2 centres and Horcoff needs to bump one of those two off the job, not this Bizarro version of the Oilers where the 3rd line is actually the 1st.

      He lost the job with his own performance during last season. You likely believe that he WILL beat out one of those two kids, but as it stands right now he is a 3rd line centre on the 30th place team of the league. That’s how the season ended for him. He does not deserve to have his status as top 6 guy reset just because he used to be that guy.

      All he deserves is the opportunity in Camp to beat out the incumbents on the top 6.

      • Ender

        Arch, you are a smart guy and I respect your opinion in most arguments, even this one.

        With reference to your numbers, I think 13-23-36 is top 6 for last year. -29, probably not. 32 yrs, hard to say but I think far from abnormal. Health, hard to define at this point but admittedly concerning as of late. Trending down last season, conceeded.

        I’ll accept your argument that Horcoff should show at camp that he deserves to be in the top-six rather than be penciled in out of some past obligation. If he’s outplayed by two other centers, I have zero qualms with him playing 3C. I just really think he’ll be better than that. As far as that goes, though, I think that the original argument of Horcoff for C13 can be just as valid whether Horc plays 2C or 3C. The difference of a couple minutes TOI each game doesn’t change what Horcoff can do for the team the other 10,074 minutes each week.

        Here’s hoping that Horcoff can be what I expect of him this season and not what you expect of him.

        • I’m also hoping he can be what you expect him to be.

          I honestly believe that the Oilers will rise and fall with Horcoff until Gagner and the rest of the kids take this team by the neck. So even though I expect very little from him, I hope he does well.

  • “Yes, but if Horcoff comes out and plays the same way this year as the last couple of years and then continues on the next year then it will show that Traktor was right about Horcoff not belonging in the lineup today…”

    Crash, Huh? Not in the line up today means lower than top 9? Same next year as the last 2 years means lower than top 9 the last 2 years? Are you serious? Or saying something completely different?

    • Ender

      Let me ask you….if you had a crystal ball that showed that Horcoff will be the worst faceoff man on the team this coming year and was going to be in the bottom 3 in the entire league in +/- and was going to have a sore shoulder and was unwilling to take faceoffs due to it and was unwilling to engage physically and was only going to get 36 pts as the top minute playing forward on the team..

      Would you still want him in your lineup?

  • Ender

    “if you had a crystal ball”

    crash, Don’t need a crystal ball to deal with you agreeing with traktor about not playing Horcoff next year if he’s like the Horcoff of the last 2 years.

    Even last year’s Horcoff (every stat considered) is in the top 9 all year (just like the coaches saw) unless there really was an injury that should have been rested.

    • Ender

      Have you been reading any of what I’ve mentioned?…my hope is for Horcoff to reinvent himself with less minutes in a defined checking role in hopes that he can perfect that role and have a positive contribution to the club…I believe he can do this.

      But if I knew that Horcoff was going to repeat last season over again this season then I would NOT want here…if that’s agreeing with Traktor then so be it…or worse if Horcoff does come out and repeat last year then IMO Traktor is right…

      You may have enjoyed Horcoff’s 2009/2010 and felt he contributed but I did not and would not want to live it again.