It’s quite possible that the Oilers will name Shawn Horcoff as C13 – the 13th Captain of the Edmonton Oilers. Let’s all listen to a Star Trek: TNG Techno remix of Patrick Stewart saying "Captain" and ponder if this is a good idea shall we?
First off, smart people all over the league have started suggesting Horcoff is the man for the job, including OilersNation’s very own Robin "The Oracle" Brownlee, who has correctly predicted so many things by now that we have given up on doubting him*:
"Once the cuts are dispensed with, it only makes sense the Oilers will unveil Horcoff as their captain and name his assistants before the Flames come calling. My guess is that’ll come Tuesday."
C13: WHO YOU?
The fact that Shawn Horcoff is sitting on a fat deal through the 2014/15 season and is being debated as the 13th Captain of the Edmonton Oilers is nothing short of amazing. Drafted in the 99th overall back in 1998 round, the guy wasn’t even considered a odds on favourite to crack an NHL lineup.
Once he made the Oil back in ’01 we can vividly recall him being given no love by the fans and the media pundits alike. But we witnessed the remarkable determination of a guy as he not only climbed onto the roster, but then up the depth chart line by line and become a point per game player back in 2005-2006.
You remember that season right? The year he potted 22 goals and 73 points in the regular season and topped it off with an additional 19 points in 24 games in the playoffs? The forgotten season when people are analyzing his career – which is often focused on the 50 points in 53 games he had back in 07-08 before he signed the 33 million dollar deal. Yeah, that season.
In those days Horcoff was on fire. You couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Horcoff fan directly in the grill. Then after a season ending shoulder surgery, he did the unpardonable sin of signing a massive contract thrown at him by the Oilers. Don’t get us wrong, we have been there at the witch hunts for Horcoff and have cheered the loudest.
We just can’t help but wonder on the cusp of a New Era for the team, if this might be an appropriate time to put that aside and recognize one of the few leaders on this team and name him Captain.
IT AIN’T EASY BEING HORCOFF
One time last season we were in the Pint having a glass of port and discussing politics with a round table of local intellectuals** Somehow or other we were introduced to a fellow and started the usual introductory blib blabbery. Something about him seemed familiar, but we couldn’t quite put our finger on what it was.
As the chap chatted away we went through our mental rolodex at full throttle until we hit upon the correct card. "You aren’t related to Shawn Horcoff are you?" Turns out it was his brother and the conversation made us as vulnerable as anything that has ever happened to us as a loud mouthed Oilers fan.
"That must be pretty cool to watch your brother sporting the ‘A’ and having a good career" we asked tactfully. The look of resignation on the poor guy’s face and the weariness in his voice spoke volumes about what he had been going through in the City of Champions. "Yeah, it used to be dude. But now everyone just hates on him. I usually don’t like to admit to strangers we are brothers because people can be pretty vile."
This is the gist of the conversation and it was clear that the poor bastard had been harrangued all over town by Oilers fans just like the one he was talking to that night. After an incredible climb into a point a game player, then following an injury in the All Star game – his brother signed a 6 year $33 million dollar deal that should have been the culmination of years of back breaking effort and toil.
Instead of his crowing achievement it has become an albatross, a massive weight around his neck that has led to public mud slinging to the degree that his brother expects to be tarred and feathered at the local watering holes.
And throughout the entire time what has the Horcoff done? Complained? Stopped trying and started mailing it in? Throwing the team trainers under the bus only to assure us all he would’t be a distraction mere weeks later?
No, he continues to arrive at camp in elite conditioning and with every passing game regrips the stick even tighter.
The 2 1/2 year crucifiction of Shawn Horcoff should stop now. Is he the player he once was? Who knows. Will he live up to the remaining years of his contract? Unclear. He has looked pretty darn sick in the preseason playing between Hall and Eberle and his effort and conditioning and attitude has remained top drawer since he signed The Deal back in 2008.
This is a team that is in short supply of Veterans and has a crop of Uber Youth that needs mentoring. Shawn Horcoff might not be the player to command a 5.5 million dollar cap hit today if he were to sign a one year deal. But the Oilers could very well get their money’s worth out of him by having him mentor the New Boys during their formative years.
As he uses the C to transition into the new role and plays with infinitely better wingers in the process – he might even pot 60 or 70 points in the process.
And given the state of the team and the unchangability of the contract – that sounds like a best case scenario from where we sit.
*But he didn’t get that Comrie signing last summer did he? Heh. heh.
** Read: crushing Bud Lights and gawking at chicks.