C13-II SEARCHING FOR CAPTAIN POWER

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.

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.

THE PITCH

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.

  • R.A. Slapshotzky

    XM Home Ice channel played the 06 finals in its entirety this weekend. I scrolled by and noticed it, but would not dare stop to listen. F you XM !! hahaha

  • Ender

    I think some people are once again missing the point of why the team has a captain.

    It is NOT a reward for excellent play. It is not a paid position. It has nothing to do with the fans, and little to do with the owners for the matter of that.

    The captain is a player that helps to motivate the team to be better players both on and off the ice. He shows the vets where they need to focus and the rookies what they need to do to succeed. He acts as a liason between players and coaches and helps to heal rifts between teammates. Last and perhaps most visibly, he acts as a leader on the ice, standing up on behalf of his team with regards to referees and opposing team members.

    While being selected as captain is an honour, it is a big responsibility and simply going out and scoring 90 points doesn’t make you a good captain. On the other hand, inspiring 9 of your teammates to score an extra 10 goals each might make you an excellent captain, even if you didn’t score any yourself.

    Horcoff might not be the greatest captain the Oilers have ever had, but out of the bodies available in the dressing room right now I would argue he’s the best thing we’ve got. Would he be the best person for the job 5 years from now? Perhaps not, but true leaders will lead regardless of the letter on their chest; if there’s a better captain in the room three years from now, the players will step up and play for that person as well even if Horc still has the C. Accountability goes to whoever commands respect, and even if Horc is one of the only ones that can command it right now that doesn’t mean that more than one person can’t expect the same level of accountability from their teammates here in the future.

    Horc for C13 is a logical choice. In fact, while Renney alluded to the possibility of running with all A‘s this year, I honestly expect that Horc will be wearing a C by October and I think his teammates will be happy about it. And that’s really the only thing that matters. Horcoff doesn’t have to impress you or I to be the captain; he just has to impress the other 22 guys in the room and to some degree the coaches. If he’s good with them, he should be good with us as well.

    PS: @ Wanye
    Dang you for making me look up what heterochromia meant! I had to investigate his case for myself; I’m amazed at how well the guy functions with his condition being as acute as it is.

    • washed up

      ” Is Not a reward for excellent play ”

      Your theory of what makes a captain has a few good pionts, but this is not one of them. The stuff about talking to the refs in also a poor point. Talking to the ref dose not make you a captian. How many times has Horcoff dropped the gloves to defend another player on the team….. Not saying he hasen’t but i can’t think of any!!!!!

      • Ender

        Someone who would make a good captain would play their level best and leave everything they had on the ice every night whether they wore a C or not. They don’t go out and give it their all in the hopes of becoming captain; if that’s what they’re doing it for, then they wouldn’t make a very good captain. A captain wants to help his team. It’s a lot of extra work and it leaves him with less time to work on his own personal game; he doesn’t do it because it’s good for him; he does it for his team because it’s good for them. He knows they need leadership to help them become everything they can be, and he knows that he can help them do that.

        That’s why it’s not a reward. Because it’s not the captain who benefits; it’s the team. And it doesn’t go to the shiniest player; they have trophies for that. It goes to the best leader, point totals aside.

        Regarding the refs, one would like to think they’re all professionals and always call it straight, but refs are human too. Sometimes when they blow a call, the captain makes sure they understand; you might get an ‘even-up’ call or a ‘no-whistle’ on your own guy later in the game if the captain makes his point well enough.

        And does Horc drop the gloves to defend his teammates? In the first place, he hasn’t had the shoulder to do it for the longest time, and in the second place not all captains are designated enforcers. If Brian McGrattan took a run at Fleury, do you think Sidney Crosby would be the one expected to skate over and drop the gloves? Leaders lead where their strengths are; Horcoff can be a fine captain for the team while still allowing Steve MacIntyre to earn his paycheck.

        • washed up

          I would expect all players at the NHL level to play at their best level every night.

          Even though i know this is not the case ie. Robert Nilson. I’m also not saying a player should play thier best just to become captian, but if a player shows “excellent play” would that in turn not help the team. Stortini (prob spelled wrong) is one of the hardest working players on the team and his game as improved by leaps and bounds in the last 3 seasons, so maybe we should consider him as a potential “C” as well, based on what your saying. I just think that on-ice play\skill level should be one of the biggest factors when determining who gets the “C”

          • Ender

            Stortini’s name has been mentioned on ON a few times as a potential captain for the very reasons you point to. I don’t think he’d be better at improving the performance of his teammates than Horcoff, but he’s far from the worst choice on the team.

            Hemsky is arguably the most talented player on the team. He’s also the first guy off the ice after practice. You think he wants the added responsibility of lining up team dinners? Of staying late to help a bubble-rookie with his shot? Hemsky is talented, but the only one he’s truly qualified to make better is himself. His teammates may admire his skill, but I don’t think a lot of them want to work any harder or drop down in front of a slapshot because they think that Hemsky will approve if they do. Ultimately, a leader commands loyalty from his teammates because they respect his contribution in all facets of their lives. Point totals on the ice is part of it and if a captain can show them how to increase their skill, that undoubtedly makes his job easier. Still, a captain that bleeds for his teammates and cares about each of them personally is respected and in turn worked for much more than one who simply scores goals alongside them for a few minutes each week.

    • Crackenbury

      Best arguement to date on the Captain front. I’m not sure where the fixation on his contract or the number points Horcoff puts up comes into play. He is clearly the most mature and responsible veteran left on the team.

    • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

      Exactly, you’ve outlined perfectly why these captain discussions are always so frustrating. It doesn’t matter what we (fans) want (or think) what matters is who works best in the players minds.

  • Chaz

    It’s a tough decision, but the only way I would give the ‘C’ to a 3rd line type player is if the player is gritty AND can fight. I like Horc’s compete level, but he’s no fighter. In my mind the Captain has to be one of your best players, and if not that then has to be able to drop the mitts. As it stands now, I would run without a Captain until someone shows they desrve it. Could be Horcs even if he returns to his former self, but not at this point in time….

  • Velo

    Horcs is the best option…and a safe one, I believe. Regardless of production, he is always ready to go. We need a role model and a professional. Rotating the “C” is a cop out. Horcs is a family guy, and team guy, an Edmontonian and a hard worker. Isn’t that what you want. If he was making 2.1 million would he be a better captain? Nope. But, many continue to slag him because he’s making the money.

  • washed up

    They gave him a huge contract on hopes and dreams which he has yet to live up to. Now we want to give him the “C” on what! Hopes and dreams. If hopes and dreams made hockey teams the oilers would be second best. Just behind the Leafs…………

  • Being a more skilled, though more injured, Marty Reasoner does not make a guy good Captain material. Let’s stop dwelling on a past that can never be re-lived. Horcoff is on the wrong side of thirty with a bad shoulder and diminishing skills.

    Are you really ready to hitch your wagon to this horse for another 5 years? Or is everyone ok with striping the “C” from him in two years when the future has become the present and Horcoff is undeniably a 3rd line player*?

    No Captain is better than having one by default that needs to be replaced in a season.

    *He’s arguably already a 3rd liner.

  • Another point in Horcoff’s favour – The Captain of your hockey team falls under two catergories – the stud point getter that gets you the Wins… or the heart of your squad who gives the team its soul.

    Horcoff – blocks shots, logs ridicoulous ice time, at times the ONLY centreman that can win a faceoff at key times, he penalty kills and he doesn’t pout. that’s a captain.

    with the media he gives you a honest assessment without burning the organization, other players or the coaching staff.

    when Ryan Smyth was traded and they asked Horcoff – does it feel like a rebuild – he answered honestly – Yes it does. He recognized it long before others did. He carries the burned of the contract and has admitted to thinking to much about it and it affected his game. Put a vote a confidence in him and give him the C and he WILL return to 70 pts ..anything after that is bonus.

    there are tons of overpaid contracts out there Daniel Briere, Simon Gagne, Wade Redden, almost every organization has one. But Horcoff can still turn his around, much like Penner did last year.

  • washed up

    Horc is clearly not a good choice for the “C”. Why is it that the captian on any other team is one of their best players. A player other teams would love to have on their team. We couldn’t give Horcoff away, in part to the contract, but i don’t know how many times this guy had me punching the couch in fustration. I’m on the wait and see, to give the “C”. This would just be another dumb move that can easily be avoided.

    • Really? Look at this list. Sure some teams have the “best” player as a captain but others don’t.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_current_NHL_captains_and_alternate_captains

      COL-Adam Foote
      FLO-Bryan McCabe
      LA-Dustin Brown
      NJD-Lagenbrunner
      NYI-Doug Weight
      NYR–Drury
      STL-Eric Brewer
      TO–Phaneuf

      @Archeologuy

      I’m sensing another epic 3 page point counter point on this one. I’ll decline to participate this go around but we can add it to the list of things we don’t/won’t agree on. If you have the right guy (and I do think Horc is this kind of guy) he’ll happily step aside as a new leader emerges (like Brind’Amour in CAR etc.)

      • washed up

        I said one of thier best players not the best player. Dustin Brown is one of the best players on that team, and i would considers Lagenbrunner as one two. Doug weight was a the best player in his prime and they really haven’t had anyone else to take over untill traveas (prob spelled wrong). I don’t think we want to build like the blues, the panthers, or Toronto. I was thinking about teams that acutally win games although LA and NJD are good teams. I’m still not sure about COL i’d be surprised if they do as good this year.

        • Jason Smith was never even close to the Oil’s best player. he was a pretty good captain in my view.

          Horc’s likely going to be the guy until one of the kids steps up and becomes the team leader.

          @Danjo1

          I’m talking about 95 for the Genesis. You need to be able to take the goalie for it to be a true test of skill. In 93 there was no defence to the “breakaway move”. In 95 you could take the goalie to stop it.

          • Smith was in the top 3 for defensemen when he was here. He was a difference maker on the ice and he exuded leadership. Horc didnt lead the kids anywhere or make a positive impact at all last year on the ice.

            I think it’s pretty reasonable to expect that the Captain should be able to make a positive impact on the ice. If he isnt in the top 6 for the forwards or the top 4 for defensemen then he’s already starting on the wrong foot.

            Go with no Captain until either Horc or one of the younger guys proves he can do it all. Being good in one area of Captainship (as outlined by Ender) isnt enough.

          • washed up

            Agree 100%.. Just because Horcoff may be the best choice on the oilers right now. he dose not have all the qualities that make a good captain unless proven otherwise. Lets give it until December or so than make a choice, or even longer who knows.

          • washed up

            Smith was also a defense man which changes things abit. His defensive play was good and he was not afraid to drop the gloves among other things. Scott Stevens is a player which i would kinda compare him to, and he was able to lead his team to the cup.

          • washed up

            Easy Big wiskey… I said i would kinda compare him to Stevens. Not he is Stevens as in their style was somewhat similar with the grit and all. I was making a point that the critera for making a D-MAN captain is somewhat different than a forward IMO. IF you can think of a D-Man who was captian of their team that’s more comparable by all means fill me in.

          • washed up

            Craig Rivet would be a better player to compare Smith to, but that really wasn’t the point of the post. My point was that IMO the critera to make a D-Man captain is different is some aspects than that of a foward. A solid defense man that palys that part of the game well and as has grit is more highly regarded then a foward with the same skill set.

  • offside

    I don’t understand why u talk about his production look at Gator Jason smith he wasn’t a producer but I would consider him a great captain and leader we need someone who can keep the room together with players and coaches horc being a rep for the nhlpa shows he is dedicated to players and that will translate to the room we need a leader to be the c and I think he is the top candidate based on leadership

  • Lowetide

    Agreed. The Oilers need to make sure he’s healthy and I hope they find another gunner for the Hemsky/Gagner passes for the PP, but that aside he’s the strongest option.

    Horocff is a bridge from the 2006 team to the next time we’re pissing off our women by watching hockey in June. 🙂

    • My girlfriend during SCF06 actually dumped me 3 days after Game 7.

      Reason: I drunkenly wept my eyes out – crying for the first time since Grade Six – when the Oilers lost.

      When she was breaking up with me she said ‘it’s a little strange that the hockey team losing made you cry.’ I told her she was not my kind of woman if she couldn’t detect the tragedy of epic proportions. We fought – end of relationship.

      Only time ever dumped – I regret nothing and would do it all again.

      END SCENE

      • offside

        And I’m assuming you didn’t cry when she dumped you….

        I guess that showed her where she ranked 🙂

        I’m expecting a Penner like resurgence from Horcoff this year, I won’t pick him as my star but I’d expect 50-55 points playing some tough minutes.

  • I would have no problem with Horcoff. He is already one of the guys with a microphone stuck in his face everyday anyhow. Good in the community – not going anywhere for a long time Would be a good transitional guy until one of our kids steps up.

  • from outside looking in, he’d be a logical choice. however, I was surprised when Moreau was named vs Horc: does that mean he’s not strong enough in the locker room?

    with so many vets gone, how much will this allow a young leader to emerge: Gags?

    ~ bring back Smitty! ~

  • Please, don’t get it confused. Horcoff is BAD! OK I’m sorry, average at best. Most of his points are Hemsky points. He can’t do nothing on his own. I haven’t seen him make a hockey play in years. Whats his game? (dont say PK, we been at the bottom of that ranking for years.)

    • Horc plays against the toughest opposing lines and has the toughest defensive assignments. He also gets thrown out there for the vast majority of the defensive zone faceoffs whether or not his line is actually on the ice.

      Take a look at CORSI stats and quality of competition and you’ll see his value. Looking at traditional boxcar numbers doesn’t tell the whole story.

      Sure his contract is an overpay but if he hadn’t been hurt I think we’d have seen a different guy the past two years.

      Here’s hoping for a bounce back. I’d be happy for Horc to be C-13. he might step aside as the Captain if/when one of the kids emerges as the true leader a la Lee Fogolin when Gretzky emerged.

  • Horcoff has enough pressure on him as it is. I don’t think he or the Oilers would benefit from him being the Captain.

    I say go without a Captain for a couple months and let one of Whitney/Gagner/Penner/Hemsky emerge as the real leader of the locker room. Or we could go with the ballsy move and name Hall the captain next season 😉

  • Cru Jones

    I think Horc is the natural choice for C13, but I’m concerned that if we’re wrong and he really is as bad as he seemed last year, then what do you do?

    We all agree the guys is untradeable, so if the Oilers make him the captain and he never returns to form, then we have to start talking about stripping the ‘C’ in 2012.

    Take the risk of naming him at the start, or play it safe with no Captain until you know Horc’s back to where he needs be? I would go with the latter.

  • i agree with you Wayne. Horc isnt nearly as bad as people say he is. I think he will bounce back this year as the team improves and the pressure on him is less.

    he might not return to PPG form but he will be a solid contributor. Making him the C and making it known he is more valuable for his intangibles than scoring 100 goals is a great idea.