Horcoff and Die

The first time I noticed Shawn Horcoff, a pretty pass was zipping through the slot in a fall 2000 scrimmage. The intended target didn’t get the pass, as his stick had been raised by his shadow; the two skaters faded from the scene, the puck safely out of harm’s way. The shadow? Shawn Horcoff. His mark on that play? Long forgotten. Shawn Horcoff showed everyone early on he had the ability to play a complete game.

The fall 2000 Oilers had a plethora of new hires up front. An entire line (the Bulldog line: Brian Swanson, Michel Riesen, Dan Cleary) were joined by Dan Lacouture and Dom Pittis; Horcoff and Mike Comrie were sent away. Comrie forced the issue and made the grade mid-season, but by that time Horcoff was already there.

Horcoff’s early years included many struggles (he had a galling tendency to pass the puck along his own blueline) and early in his NHL career it wasn’t clear he was going to score enough to play a major role. However, "Horc" answered every request from the coach and eventually moved up the depth chart to the top line C job (Doug Weight owned it when he arrived, Nugent-Hopkins will probably own it when he leaves) and has had his share of good times and bad since taking on that difficult role.

Many Oiler fans consider Shawn Horcoff an overpaid, undertalented fraud; don’t count me among them. Shawn Horcoff is a throwback type, a player who doesn’t see himself as a special case and doesn’t press for a specific role that suits his skills best. No sir. He’s a two-way center with heart, a solid option for a team that hasn’t enjoyed an impact player up the middle since Weight was sent to St. Louis years ago.

Today, the Oilers named Shawn Horcoff captain. His coach said that as part of the selection process he had asked all of the players for their choice. Horcoff’s name was front and center throughout the conversations. Ales Hemsky said "they couldn’t have picked a better guy" and I’m inclined to agree. There are things a fan like me can’t know about the inner workings of a hockey team; however, anyone who has watched this team since fall 2000 can tell you Shawn Horcoff answered every call, left it all out on the ice and delivered to the best of his ability.

I can’t think of a better man for these young kids to look up to as they grow into NHL players over the next few seasons. Horcoff will no doubt play the "Stan Weir" role on the ice, and will deliver in very important off-ice roles as well. Good choice, Tom Renney. And for those who don’t appreciate Horcoff’s talents, I offer the title of this post as a friendly suggestion.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    What would Shaun Horcoff have netted this past summer if he was an unrestricted free agent, 1.5-2.5 per season? The only reason he’s still an Oiler is because of his untradeable salary. If Tambellini could’ve had it his way he would’ve swept Horcoff out with Moreau, Staios and Souray. Seems to be alot of man love for Horcoff here lately, i just wanted to temper it a little. He’s still the worst contract ever givin to an Oilers player.

    • Paq Twinn

      .78ppg 05/06 to 08/09
      09/10 first 3/4 of season under Quinn shift control .36 ppg

      last 1/4 under renneys .76ppg

      Who is Coach Again?

      Quicksilver! Give a shoutout to your HFC crew.

    • But even guys like Daymond Langkow get 4M a year long term. And I prefer Horcoff over Langkow.

      Harping on his contract is moot. People go back again and again to it. It’s done, it is a bad contract, and if they had to do it again they wouldn’t. But I don’t think this club would get rid of him if he had a reasonable contract. So if he had a 3-4M a year deal he’d still be here. He has a massive 5.5M/year deal and he’s here. So it’s a completely moot point.

    • i guess the only thing to point out is that you can’t blame him for the contract. sure it seems a bit of an over pay, but if some one came knocking on your door and offered you that money would you knock it back? i think not. so sure man love for horc all the way, to the bank.

      also best player available to steal a line from a recent draft

    • Horcoff’s contract is bad, but it’s not even the worst contract held by a current Oiler: Khabibulin’s unquestionably worse. With the benefit of hindsight, Souray’s is worse too, though without that bad blood it would probably have been roughly as bad, and possibly even a little better.

      Any team that could get Horcoff for 1.5-2.5 per season would be in pretty terrific shape.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    I also can’t wait for the season to start. If for no other reason than to get rid of the 7-2 beat down from Anaheim as our last game.

    *shudders thinking of last year*

  • The clear and obvious choice. One thing that rarely gets mentioned is Horcoff’s intelligence – when you hear him speak it’s clear he’s a smart man. 2 thoughts: Pretty hard to take a night off when your captain buries his head and plays as hard as he does game in, game out; my guess is most guys on the team would go through a wall for him. 2 important characteristics you like to see in your captain (vs. another effin penalty in the last minute%^!!…)

  • Lowetide

    Absolutely HATE Horcoff’s contract (most particularly term) but if I had to select a captain off this roster there is absolutely no question in my mind that he is the only and best choice. He is, quite simply, a pro’s pro and will be a good leader for young players

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      He’s a new level of smurf (though still very young so obviously could fill out).

      I go to a fair amount of Rebel games, RNH reminds me alot of Hemsky. That said, I wouldn’t be banking on him to be a #1C one day. Guy seems extremly high risk to me.

    • fuck off

      Yeah RN-H is smaller and cerebral. Excellent skill and talent but not ideal IMO. Couturier however is a better size befitting a 1C and he is Mr. Shutdown. Night in and night out he lines up against the opposition’s first line and blanks their stat sheets all the while posting points of his own.

      Bob MacKenzie had this to say about him:
      “Couturier is a rangy, point-producing centre who won the Quebec League scoring title last season as a 17-year-old. In addition to putting up impressive offensive numbers, Couturier has a fairly well developed defensive game and has been used by Canadian national under-18 teams as a “shutdown” type centre who reads the game as well without the puck as with it. Not surprisingly, with his size, skill and ability to play without the puck, Couturier is said to have some Staal-like qualities — Eric or Jordan, take your pick.”

      I’m sure everyone else enjoys the zing that leaves in their mouth as we continue to drool for a true 1C.

      DAMN! I just noticed TSN has SC towering at 6’4 and 193lbs already! Last year’s QMJHL box cars are: 68-41-55-96 +62. RN-H is sized up at 6’0 and 155lbs. Seems like an easy option to me, that is of course if they get that chance.

  • fuck off

    Excellent again LT, however I have to disagree on your side note: Couturier should be the one taking over for Horcs in a few years. That is of course if the Oilers get that option after this season but if I had to choose I think SC is a better option than RN-H.

  • I don’t hide the fact that I’m a Horcoff fan and always have been. Very happy that he was made captain today.

    I’ve always conceded that the $5.5M contract wasn’t a very good one made by Lowe, although I understand his reasoning. He’s the type that probably listens to fans a bit too much and probably thought he was making up for what happened with Ryan Smyth.

    Anyways, I don’t focus on the numbers, since I’m not paying the bills. And well, given that we now have a tremendous amount of cap space, for once, I don’t think many people even care about it for the next two years.

    I just hope he can have a better season this year, and from what I’ve seen so far, I really think he will.

  • I am ok with the choice. I like the fact the captain will be on a regular shift and won’t be in the penalty box when games are on the line.

    My hope is if a younger player will emerge in next few years and a smooth transition will take place with Horcoff handing over the C.

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    Nice post, Mr. Lowetide!

    Yeah, I’m definitely ok with Horcoff being C16 around here; I’ve never jumped onto or even really understood the anti-Horcoff bandwagon.

    In fact, I really can’t see who Renney could have picked over him. There are guys (Whitney, eg) there who would be decent choices in and of themselves, but none better than Horcoff given his veteran status and his apparently exemplary work ethic. I particularly like the fact that Hall is already talking him up as a guiding influence.

    I only hope that the guy can find a way to get the leather-lungs off his back!

  • As long as he doesn’t turn into Shayne Corson this is a great move & a no brainer. A guy who has played his ass off here for the past 10 seasons. Ryan Whitney may have been another good choice, but his body of work doesn’t even come close to #10’s.

  • Cru Jones

    Scored the biggest goal I’ve ever seen in person in triple OT against the Sharks. I remember him laying on the ice in another playoff game after blocking a shot (with his face?) to secure the win. Those are the two things I remember every time I hear some moron bash the guy. Then I sit quietly and think to myself “It’s okay, they just don’t understand the sport.”