TOP 100 OILERS: SHAWN HORCOFF (29)

Horcoff

If there’s a better story of perseverance and work ethic paying off than the tale scripted by Shawn Horcoff during the 12 seasons he spent playing with the Edmonton Oilers, I can’t think of it. From fourth-round draft pick and fourth-line winger when he first broke into the NHL to first-line centre and captain of the Oilers, Horcoff’s ascent was the product of a dash of talent and a heaping helping of being willing to work harder than anybody else.

From the moment Horcoff arrived in Edmonton by way of the Michigan State Spartans after a stint in the minors with the Hamilton Bulldogs until he was traded away to the Dallas Stars in the summer of 2013, he never, ever cheated the Oilers in terms of effort. He gave them his best. Even when his best wasn’t good enough. Even when he was being overpaid, as was most certainly the case in his final years in Edmonton.

Shawn Horcoff

Center — shoots L

Born Sep 17 1978 — Trail, BC 

Height 6.01 — Weight 210 [185 cm/95 kg]

Drafted by Edmonton Oilers

Round 4 #99 overall 1998 NHL Entry Draft

BY THE NUMBERS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2000-01

22

EDM

49

9

7

16

8

10

42

21.4

452

9:14

2001-02

23

EDM

61

8

14

22

3

18

57

14.0

691

11:20

2002-03

24

EDM

78

12

21

33

10

55

98

12.2

1053

13:30

2003-04

25

EDM

80

15

25

40

0

73

110

13.6

1402

17:31

2005-06

27

EDM

79

22

51

73

0

85

167

13.2

1578

19:59

2006-07

28

EDM

80

16

35

51

-22

56

168

9.5

1666

20:50

2007-08

29

EDM

53

21

29

50

1

30

115

18.3

1178

22:13

2008-09

30

EDM

80

17

36

53

7

39

178

9.6

1709

21:22

2009-10

31

EDM

77

13

23

36

-29

51

123

10.6

1496

19:26

2010-11

32

EDM

47

9

18

27

-1

46

78

11.5

878

18:41

2011-12

33

EDM

81

13

21

34

-23

24

123

10.6

1586

19:35

2012-13

34

EDM

31

7

5

12

8

24

41

17.1

523

16:51

2013-14

35

DAL

77

7

13

20

1

52

68

10.3

990

12:52

2014-15

36

DAL

76

11

18

29

9

27

82

13.4

989

13:01

2015-16

37

ANA

59

6

9

15

1

34

73

8.2

784

13:17

12 yrs

EDM

796

162

285

447

-38

511

1300

12.5

14212

17:51

2 yrs

DAL

153

18

31

49

10

79

150

12.0

1980

12:56

1 yr

ANA

59

6

9

15

1

34

73

8.2

784

13:17

Career

1008

186

325

511

-27

624

1523

12.2

16975

16:50

PLAYOFFS

Season

Age

Tm

GP

G

A

PTS

+/-

PIM

S

S%

TOI

ATOI

2000-01

22

EDM

5

0

0

0

0

0

2

0.0

33

6:31

2002-03

24

EDM

6

3

1

4

1

6

7

42.9

93

15:27

2005-06

27

EDM

24

7

12

19

4

12

41

17.1

519

21:37

2013-14

35

DAL

6

1

5

6

5

5

11

9.1

85

14:13

2015-16

37

ANA

5

0

1

1

0

2

3

0.0

39

7:49

Career

46

11

19

30

10

25

64

17.2

768

16:42

NOTABLE

Horcoff willed his way up Edmonton’s line-up from the fourth line to the first line because he worked at this game. He was a solid, two-way player who could play a sound defensive game, chip in around the net and win some face-offs. What Horcoff wasn’t, despite high-water marks of 73 points in 2005-06 and 50 points in 53 games in 2007-08, was a naturally gifted offensive player. A dynamic player. A game-breaker.

The problem is, outgoing GM Kevin Lowe paid Horcoff like one when he gave him a six-year contract extension worth $33 million in July of 2008, two years after the Oilers lost in Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup final against Carolina. In a salary cap era and on a team that was on its way off the rails with incoming GM Steve Tambellini at the controls, Horcoff didn’t have a hope in hell of living up to that contract. He didn’t.

All that money changed how fans looked at Horcoff. While I understand it on one level, especially with the team well on the way to being upside down and on fire, it’s not like Horcoff and his agent held a gun to Lowe’s head, after all. By the time the Oilers named Horcoff the 13th captain in franchise history in October 2010, he was 32 and on the downside of his career. His best season, topped off by the Stanley Cup run and Shirts Off For Horcoff, seemed a distant memory.

THE STORY

When I look back at Horcoff’s tenure as an Oiler, the only thing missing is a Stanley Cup ring – something he was willing to block a shot with his face, as he did against the Detroit Red Wings in the first round of 2006, to get. If he had managed that, he’d be higher on this Top 100 list. The thing is, Horcoff wasn’t just a “try hard” player. For me the numbers Horcoff put up, not the amount of his pay cheques, tell the story.

Horcoff ranks fifth in franchise history in games played with 796. He’s ninth in goals with 162 and ninth in points with 447. He’s tied for eighth in even-strength goals with 116 and power-play goals with 41. He’s tied for seventh in game-winning goals with 25 and he’s 10th in shots with 1,300. Simply put, Horcoff is in the company of Ryan Smyth, Ales Hemsky and Doug Weight when it comes to the most productive Oilers since the last Cup in 1990.

The vast majority of players ahead of Horcoff on this Top 100 list were Cup winners or multiple Cup winners with the Oilers during the glory days of the Boys on the Bus era. From afterthought at the entry draft and a fourth-liner to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup and captain of the Oilers, that’s Horcoff. I’d call that a career.

This series will look at the top 100 Edmonton Oilers from the NHL era 1979-80 to 2014-15, starting with 100 and working up. 

Listen to Robin Brownlee Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260.

PREVIOUSLY:

  • NOCO Oilers Fan

    I always enjoyed Horcoff as an Oiler. Hated how much flack he got for that contract. He never held out and took the money offered to him. As Brownlee said, he always worked his ass off and his career arc proves that. He was a hell of a player for couple of years, and a good player for most of the rest of his career in Edmonton.

  • ubermiguel

    I have only two crested Oilers jerseys, both are Horcoff, so you could say I’m a fan. He played a solid 200 ft game, was great at faceoffs and I don’t think I ever saw him take a night off.

  • Spaceman Spiff

    Few players in the history of this team – save for Paul Coffey and maybe Tom Poti – enticed more fans of this team to make complete, utter asses of themselves than Shawn Horcoff. Whenever some leather-lunged zipperhead from one of the upper decks of Rexall yelled down pearls of wisdom at or about Horcoff during a break in the action, you could feel the collective intelligence of the entire fandom go down about 25 IQ points. Horcoff Derangement Syndrome was hard on the ears, but worse on the patience. That was a dark time.

    Horcoff was a wonderful player and we were lucky to have him as long as we did. I’m forever convinced that the run to the playoffs that fell just short in 2007-08 would have turned out differently had Horcoff not blown out his shoulder 53 games into the season (he had 21 goals and 50 points at that point). I also wonder if guys like Schultz and Yakupov might have turned out differently if Horc was around to lead by example. I’m not saying he was Mark Messier or Jean Beliveau, but there was a palpable leadership void after Horcoff left and it took the Greatest Draft Lotttery of All Time to finally address it.

    Was he worth the contract? Heavens, no. Few would be. But no one, other than Mr. Katz, was ever on the hook for paying that contract – the leather-lungs always seemed to forget that. And how many times since 2013 have we said to ourselves, “Gee, it sure would be nice to have a faceoff guy like Shawn Horcoff?”