First time I saw Shawn Horcoff was fall 2000, one dozen years ago. It was a pre-season game, he marked his man at center ice after a turnover and shadowed him down the ice, tied up his stick as a perfect pass came flying through the slot and rode the man out the scoring area. Textbook from a rookie, music!

Shawn Horcoff was there the night Mike Comrie bolted the team, he was there on that very effective 4line he played on as a rookie. He spent time on the wing, learned the hard lessons MacT gave all the kids in those years and emerged as a solid 2-way center. Big, strong, good skater and some touch around the net. I well remember the spring of 2006, his ‘face block’ in the dying seconds of the Red Wings season, and remember too his tireless effort in the lost seasons caused by a rebuild undertaken in the heart of his career. The ‘contract’ brought him riches and much derision.

All of this during a time he was still effective, playing at a quality level and facing suffocating zone starts. Shawn Horcoff is a solid NHL player and has been a standup captain all down the line. I have never heard a word in print or on the air about Horcoff passing off a responsibility or refusing to execute the gameplan.I don’t need to ‘name names’ but Edmonton’s captains have a long and varied history, with at least one being an historically poor choice.


The day Horcoff was named captain, many of the things accomplished above were quoted as being reasons for his getting such an honor. The captain is the leader, and Horcoff led in the field of conditioning, effort, playing while injured and never giving up in the face of adversity.


There’s a very funny video (Colin Priestner’s) Oiler fans know well in which Horcoff is first mocked and then exhalted in short order—and that’s pretty much the story of #10 (1:23 to 1:26 in the video below).


Shawn Horcoff is in a unique situation today. The captain watches over a team whose best young players are taking on more difficult roles, and the young cluster is pushing for more playing time and more responsibility. Sooner or later, Taylor Hall is going to be the captain of this hockey club, and if not Hall then Jordan Eberle or the Nuge.

When does one make that decision? Does Shawn Horcoff wait for the team to come calling or make things happen on his own terms, to (as Lee Fogolin did with such class) pass the torch to a new generation? Horcoff’s time as captain has been difficult, and the contract has made him less popular than he should be among the fanbase. A single gesture like abdicating his captaincy would no doubt be greeted with a tremendous response from Oilers Nation and represent a smooth transition to the inevitable.


And if he’s willing to go that far, perhaps Horcoff might do as another Oiler captain did and give up his number 10 to a new phenon–in this case Nail Yakupov. Horcoff’s time with the team is nowhere near the end—that contract will keep him here for the duration—but his role has and will continue to be reduced and the time is coming when he will not be on the ice in pivotal moments of the game.


Shawn Horcoff doesn’t have to prove one damn thing to Oiler fans. He’s been a loyal soldier and signed a contract offered and accepted in good faith and worked his tail off to deliver. The contract is no longer an issue beyond representing a different time in Oilers history.

At this point, it’s more about the way he’d like to handle a sensitive issue. Shawn Horcoff is still the captain of the Edmonton Oilers in name, but the young cluster represents the future and at some point the organization will segue into a younger captain for the future.

A new beginning, a new number and a new captain might suit Shawn Horcoff and the Oilers in equal parts. A chance for the Oilers to transition smoothly and an opportunity for the player–once again–to show Oiler fans Shawn Horcoff is an admirable, stand up guy.

I don’t know if blocking a puck with your face is more difficult than passing the torch to a younger man, but I suspect Shawn Horcoff will have both experiences before he calls it a day.


Team 1260 at high noon, email is and you can post comments and questions below. Twitter is my second home @Lowetide_ and @ItsNationRadio for your thoughts. Scheduled to appear:

  • Tom Lynn from Veritas Hockey will help us on the CBA, the impact of a lockout on players below the NHL and his experience at the recent Ivan Hlinka tournament. 
  • Jason Strudwick, former NHL player, Oilers Nation contributor and bon vivant about town. We’ll discuss the impact of a lockout on players and their families and find out how much players know about the issues.
  • Tyler Dellow from mc79 hockey will break down the Taylor Hall contract and its possible impact, the CBA and impending lockout and we’ll ponder lockout entertainment options.
  • Kent Simpson, Oil Kings color commentator will touch base on the Oil Kings and the massive season ahead.
  • Rob Soria from Oil Drop will talk about his recent Chris Pronger article.
  • Ilya Ostrovsky owner of the EMHL and a man who grew up in the shadow of the Kremlin. We’ll talk about adult hockey in Edmonton and what’s available, and I’ll ask him about his unique connection to hockey in Russian and in Canada.

    • ubermiguel

      I didn’t heed your warning and read the article (and most of the linked articles). If half that stuff about Corson is true he might be the worst choice of captain for any sports team ever. Makes me love Horcs as captain even more.

  • Reg Dunlop

    Regarding the impending work-stoppage, I have heard conspiracy-types suggest that it is a way to cull the half-dozen weaklings that will always remain money pits. The potential loss of 150 NHL jobs, and the union dues,would be unacceptable to any union looking out for it’s member’s interests and it’s own coffers. However, losing all or a large part of this season could very well mark the end of the Coyotes, Panthers, Devils, Jackets, Preds and Flames(kidding).

    Would this be good or bad? Would there be a dispersal draft? Would pick-order be based on last year’s standings? Would there be any other way to get Weber? I’m just speculating here before I go on a beer-run. At any rate, lock-out=BOHICA.

  • Reg Dunlop

    When the team is ready for success, the move will be obvious. I still foresee another non-playoff season on the horizon. The time is soon but it is not now.

  • Spydyr

    As for the talk of a 12 year vet, captain of the team giving his number up to a raw rookie.Well that is asinine.Plan and simple.What would be even worse if Yak accepted it.

    Now for giving up the captaincy.Let Horcoff wear the C for the time being.Hall is just to young(it shows up on the ice quite often) and even though the team is going towards the young guns.It is not time…….yet.

  • With all the talk about Oilers’ captains, no one has answered the question as to who picks the captains? And what are the captains’ roles as determined by who picks them?

    Are the captains go-betweens players and coaches?

    Some of us would expect that captains should be leaders, but that is obviously not the case with the Oilers. Case in point: Hemsky. With all his lost ice time due to injuries, what kind of captain is Whitney?

    Some posters are very defensive about Horcoff’s performance last year. I think everyone understands that Horcoff’s contract isn’t a value contract. But what value does he actually bring?\

    Lowetide, what about a survey on Horcoff’s performance as a player and captain? Results would be interesting, as long as bloggers can’t vote more than once.

  • ubermiguel

    I disliked Horcoff and his contract for years after he signed it.

    Yet I think he’s going to be the first captain I sympathize with when he passes the C on. We’re close in age and we both have young bucks nipping at our heels. It gives me some sort of empathy, until I remember he earned more in 1 year than I will in my life.

  • misfit

    I don’t think anyone should be expecting him to do either, but handing over the ‘C’ to the young leadership on the team would be a classy gesture. Giving up his number to a rookie would be downright stupid.

  • misfit

    It is gratifying to read something positive about Horcoff. Raise your hand if you wouldn’t have accepted the ridiculous overpay he got? Okay liars, put them down.

    Horcoff has worked his butt off from the day he first put on the uniform and has worn it with pride. He was a key player in the 2006 miracle run and has taken so many for the team I lost count a long time ago. But I was there with my kids when he blocked that final blast against Detroit and no other moment sums up the kind of player and person he is, and why he wears the ‘C.’ The time when he will hand it over to one of the young guns, probably Hall, is approaching but is not here yet. When it comes he will pass it with pride.

    He has played through numerous injuries which limited his performance, but always put the team first. Horc was never a star, is not the player he once was and of course he is paid too much. If that’s all some people can see, I feel sorry for them.

    • Cowbell_Feva

      If every player on the team went to work like Horc does, and has done all his career, we probably wouldn’t have ended up with 3 #-1’s.

      Forget about the contract. If all the players who are overpaid, were not overpaid, most of us would be able to afford to take in the odd game.

      As for giving up his #10, not a chance. And if some rookie believes he deserves to wear it, that’s a big problem.

      It’s not always right to base contract size on points. If Renny didn’t replace Jones with Hemsky on the Horc and Smyth line, the point total would have been much better this last season for Shawn.

  • Loved the Dylan reference – Street Legal was one of my faves back in the day – one of the all time underrated Dylan albums and for me a part of the soundtrack to the 1978-79 Oiler season which was spent watching a pimply faced prodigy named Gretzky lead the Oil to the Avco Cup final. The late Paul Shmyr was the captain then, who eccentrically wore a K instead of a C, I believe to celebrate his Ukrainian heritage. He was tough as nails, pound for pound as tough an Oiler as there has been. And as much as I have maligned our current captain over the last few tears, this article convinces me he can be captain until he decides when to pass the torch. In fact my optimism for the upcoming season is at an all time high. Nothing, not even the hare-brained owners can spoil the mood right now.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I’m sorry. I had to scroll back up and re-read the player you were trying to describe. “Big” and “strong” are flat out lies. “Some touch around the net” is what someone with Oiler goggles would say about someone who has pathetic offensive capability.

    So he tries hard. Apparently his conditioning is good. That doesn’t change the fact that he (in my mind) is a below average NHLer. He never should have played above the 2nd line at any time in his career, and for the last 3 should have been a 3rd line checker with zero PP time. I find it hard to accept the Oilers mantra of “rebuild” when Horcoff is out there boobing it up and hitting the other team, tape to tape, play after play after play.

    I get it. He played on a bad team and there was limited options down the middle, but for god sakes after watching him as closely as I have had to, you would think the coaches would give another person SOME of his ice. He has obviously been overplayed for 3 seasons now and it shows. Just look at his +/- over that time. The sooner they can get that ‘C’ off his chest the better I will sleep at night.

    There are players that can play hard and use the effort to their advantage, whereas with Horcoff, it almost always ends up as a turnover going back the other way. Think of how poor Hemsky has felt dishing him the puck only to have him whiff it into the corner. I watched him get stoned (on two occasions at least) by a defenseman standing in an empty net with the goalie on the bench. I am not making this up. I have seen him on a flat out breakaway against Luongo a fews years back, and he literally fumble-f*cked the puck into the corner, untouched. If I could only have had a picture of the look on Lu’s face on the replay!! Too many times have I watched Oil games in other cities and listened to an entire pub laugh at our heroic captain.

    I felt this way about him well before the contract. It just further pissed me off. He’s a nice guy. Great. He tries hard. Good. He’s a bad NHL-er. In my opinion, hell yeah.

  • GVBlackhawk

    Until someone with first hand knowledge tells me it’s time for Horc to move along, I will choose to disregard unknowledgable comments. What’s a captain’s role on the team? To score goals? Or, to perform other duties. If it’s only goals, great! Replace the fool. If it’s more than that, ask a player or two what Horc brings to then table>

  • Cowbell_Feva

    The day any of you think you know more about hockey than I do, because you can find one positive article from a year and ahalf ago speaks volumes. You can work Google. Congratulations. You want me to actually show you his plus/minus over the past 3 seasons. Fine.

    2011-12: -23. 2010-11:-1. 2009-10:-29. Thats -53. Stellar.

    As I mentioned. He is good to the media so nothing bad is ever said about him. As much as it could be, it isn’t. Being a blind sheep and listening to the media as gospel does not mean you know more about hockey than I do.

    Next thing you are going to tell me is that Dan Tencer is a hockey guru. I am a die-hard Oiler fan, but can still distinguish skill from plumber, without letting bias get in the way.

    Some people on here are getting close to Vancouver Canuck-like delusion.

    • Wax Man Riley

      I agree with his +/-, it stinks. He also plays the toughest competition, most defensive zone draws, in front of a weak defense playing in front of a weaker Khabibulin on a 3th place club.

      I guarantee he has a spot on any club in the league.

    • GVBlackhawk

      Damn all of us fact users!

      A hockey lesson for you: Plus/minus is not a great stat at evaluating individual effectiveness. Many factors can alter the validity of the statistic. Google that one. But as you are so fond of it, let’s look at the number in a more ‘realistic’ light (i.e. relative vs absolute values).

      09-10: Horcoff -29, Team -72.
      10-11: Horcoff -1, Team -69.
      11-12: Horcoff -23, Team -25. Quality of competition was 9th most difficult in the league. 1st option penalty killer (ie. has a disproportionately high ratio of PK time).

      Now how do you justify your +/- ridicule of Horcoff?

      Some people on here are actually watching the players without selective perception (‘saw him bad in a bar one time’) and confirmation bias (‘and everyone laughed at him’).

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Ohhh just to see a young Ethan Moreau right now in Oilers silks,would be a godsend.

    Who is willing to and HAS fought for the team,negotiate with the refs for the team and pick them up and carry the team to wins on his own back THROUGH HARD WORK AND SYSTEM COMMITTMENT FOR 60MINS?Mmmmmmmmmmmm.

    Who has already shown all of this and is in the right age range to take such an early privilage,who is the most prepared of all the young studs??Sam Gagner.

    Horcoff is the transitional piece and the Oilers already know who the next captain here is,he showed us last year,only Nuge can nudge him out if he overwhelms us and the league with offense like I fully expect him to do.

    The rest is just semantics,Horcoff earned the right to be where he is under the circumstances,he became the Alpha Oiler–no one should cry over spilt milk–and it looks like based on last year Sam Gagner has stepped up through his actions and stood in line,whos next??

    Personally I like an Oiler Captain who is willing to fight for his guys,Doan fits the bill,hint hint.

    Doan a fighting power forward captain and Luongo an elite goalie who needs to make his mark deperately enough to partner with Dubby,and we are set for the next five plus years.Immediate contention.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    I unfortunately watch Horcoff everytime the Oilers play. I know he is good enough to play in the NHL. More so 3-4 years ago, much less so since. He probably would be a 3rd or 4th liner on some teams, if he didn’t have his contract. What chaifs me is how great he is made out to be, when in fact (IMO) he is the exact opposite.

    I actually watch him with the same perception of any other player in the NHL. If he f*cks up more than he makes plays I wouldn’t vent my frustration on here. But he does. I don’t sit and wait for a “mini-mistake” it happens every 2nd shift. I see more little hockey plays than most people do, I have found, and every once in a while he makes a good play, but not very often. Do you honestly think I am the only person that feels the same way. There is a reason the nickname Whiff-coff was developed. I didn’t make it up. Where theres smoke there’s fire.

    I have the luxury to watch hockey at work with a group of grown adult men, most of which have actually played hockey in their life. It becomes a joke as to when the next turnover will develop from #10. Why is it that he is the only one being ridiculed this way?

    Now to GVBlackhawk, if you actually feel your last post was supposed to make me feel as though, WOW, I was totally wrong about him, your dead wrong. I guess I should have looked at the +/- stat in a more “realistic” light. You know “relative vs. absolute values”. WTF man. You say your a stat user, but when a stat stares you in the face…. no, no, no that isn’t realistic. Stamkos didn’t “actually” score 60 goals because he scored most of those on the powerplay. Afterall it is easier to score on the PP, looking at it in a “realistic” light. You can use as many big words as you’d like, and try and sound as smart as you would like, but your argument is weak.

    Sorry man. I lived in Calgary for a bit and when watching the battle of Alberta there, the entire bar laughed at Horcoff fumble-f*ck the puck away and fall down. It was embarrasing as an Oiler fan. I didn’t have a recording on my video camera, so it must not have happened. The people within ear-shot must not have made intelligent reports during numerous other games,of how often he makes mistakes. I don’t often agree with Flamer fans, but couldn’t argue with them time after time either! I must be the delusional one here. My confirmation bias must have made up all these stories.

    • GVBlackhawk

      I’m sorry that I am talking above you with my fancy statistical analysis and big words. Perhaps I can dumb it down for you.

      I base my opinions on Horcoff using statistical analysis. The reason is because nobody can remember all of the events that occur during a particular game. And nobody can remember what happened in all 82 games per season. Using stat analytics allows me to get a better understanding of the whole picture.

      On the other hand, you saw Horcoff make a specific, awful play that you remember clearly. You determined that Horcoff was overpaid, terrible and that you do not like him. As human nature dictates, you began to focus on Horcoff in a negative light, ignoring his achievements and lauding his failures (sorry…cheering for him to screw up).

      You spew vitriol about Horcoff without backing it up. Please inform me how often Horcoff commits turnovers in a game. Is he average? Above? Below? You have no idea yet you get on here and prattle on about all of his giveaways as if your opinion is fact. I disproved your plus/minus argument and you chose to ignore it and try to compare Stamkos’ goal totals to Horcoff’s plus/minus. That is comparing apples to oranges.

      And you call my argument weak.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Thanks Albert. You really cleared everything up. The difference between someone like you and me, is obviously vast, but I put very little stock in stat analysis. I actually watch the game and make my opinion based on the knowledge I have gained while playing and watching hockey my whole life, not from dissecting data.
    Look at baseball. You can make a pitcher look good because he is effective on afternoon games, in August, against left handed batters. Even though that pitcher is garbage, the stats make him look brilliant. Its all relative. Whoa… big word. Sorry. It can be skewed. Horcoff was on the ice for 53 more goals in his net, than in the other teams. Pretty straight forward. He’s not the first centerman to play tough competition and the PK. Pretty simple. Your over-complicating things to try and save face for him with your lawyer talk.

    I guess I can’t go over every single screw up Horcoff commits in a given year. Does that mean he doesn’t? If you read my above threads I already clearly stated that he is a below average NHLer in my opinion. For the amount of praise he receives from brain surgeons like yourself, it further frustrates me. I never cheer for him to screw up. I’m an Oiler fan. I just continually get let down by him, so I vent on here.

    Maybe you are the one who needs to look a little closer at him during a particular game? Perhaps your bias gets in the way? He gets lauded for making a simple hockey play, but gets a free pass for the 3 other mistakes. 4 years ago it wasn’t so bad. The past 3 seasons has been horrid.

    But seeing as you are so much smarter than the general population, I must just be lucky to converse with someone as bright as you.

    • GVBlackhawk

      Yes the differences between us are vast indeed. I base my opinions on facts. You are delusional.

      Oh right, you watch all the games. Nobody else does that for sure. Oh yeah, you have played hockey your whole life. I’ve never met anyone else in this country who has done that. Congratulations! I don’t know why Central Scouting has not contacted you for the head scout position. When they find out that you make all your decisions by ‘watching games’ you will be shoe in for the job.

      I love how you disregarded my argument (again!) and started comparing hockey to baseball. Sheer brilliance!

      Horcoff was -53 in the last 3 years. The team was -166. Did you expect Horcoff to be +53 on these horrible Oilers teams? Was Horcoff supposed to carry the team? Do you think maybe the atrocious defense and goalie had something to do with the -166 and 30th, 30th, 29th place finishes?

      Yes, Horcoff makes mistakes. Yes, he turns the puck over on occasion. Yes, he misses some glorious chances to score. Can you name an NHL hockey player who does not do this? Why are you singling out Horcoff? Because some Flames fans laughed at him one time? Do you know how ridiculous you sound?

      Horcoff is a primary penalty killer. Is he supposed to stop the opposition power play by himself? He received a disproportionate number of minuses because of PK time on ice. He also plays against the opposition’s top line. Do you think that he is always going to stop the Sedins, Crosby, Malkin, etc? No, they are going to score goals no matter who is playing against them. How do you think RNH or Gagner would do against the same quality of competition that Horcoff faces every night? They would be minus players, too.

      Sorry that I am an intelligent, university educated person and you are not. I realize that you have an inferiority complex…just try not to apply that to hockey analysis.

  • Cowbell_Feva

    Yes, your the only person in Canada who went to University, maybe even the world. You must talk with Stephen Hawking on a regular basis about string theories. Even though I am being sarcastic, you would be closer in accuracy talking to Stephen about that, than you would being on here talking about hockey.

    Yes Horcoff misses glorious chances, turns the puck over, and loses more face-offs than he wins. You should know that stat-man. Sub 50% is an annual thing. The difference between him and other NHLers is that he does it more frequently than others. This is why he gets the brunt of my fury, because it is clear to me that he is the culprit. I don’t single him out, he does it for me when I watch the bloody game.

    I am the one surprised here. You clearly know everything about hockey from all your data research. I can see you and Dave Semenko going over bar-graphs and bell curves right now, and presenting the data to MacGregor. Do you honestly think these guys are pouring over who had “disproportionate” numbers? There is a reason they travel around the world to WATCH players play. They can sit on the internet and read all the info they want, but hockey guys can read more out of watching than they can getting lost in numerical b*llsh*t.

    Not sure how I have disregarded your argument? Your defending Horcoff, I’m not. What am I missing. The baseball thing was to show you that stats can be skewed. As smart as you say you are, I am surprised you weren’t able to comprehend that.

    I am delusional, yet you are the one blaming the goaltending and defense and failing to blame the most important player on the ice (centerman). Maybe he had something to do with the basement dwelling as well? Or no, he did great work, but everyone else was to blame? Obviously goaltending and defense are part of the blame as well, probably more so, but to blame them alone, when Horcoff led all forwards in ice-time, is pure bias.

    He plays Crosby and Malkin once a year. Its more the times when he loses 3 faceoffs in a row at the end of a game against Minny last season to Mikko Koivu. I don’t remember the date. I remember that he didn’t tie up his man on the dot, and didn’t even touch the puck once. 3 clean wins straight back to the D. They pulled the goalie and had a PP. This is the first example that popped into my head. Theres not enough room on the Oilernation data base to keep record of all the times he screws up.

    I would love to see Gagner and RNH and Belanger (for faceoff purposes) used more than Horcoff. #1 we are supposed to be rebuilding, yet keep sending out an old goat on the downside of his career, because 5 years ago he had a decent season. #2 it would allow the kids to learn. #3 they couldn’t do any worse!

    To finish, someone with a University degree should realize that you don’t know me from a hole in the wall. As modest as you are, your University degree, and my University degree are different in what way? Inferiority complex? I don’t want to ever be as blind as you are when it comes to hockey. You should stick with Dungeons and Dragons and having your laptop over to watch the game with you.

  • Cowbell_Feva

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