Shawn Horcoff was a change of guard of sorts in Edmonton.
Drafted by the Oilers in the fourth round of the 1998 draft, he carried the Edmonton Oilers out of the late 1990’s and to the Stanley Cup Finals in ’06 becoming a warrior for the team through the decade of darkness.
A consistent and steady player for the Oilers over the course of his 12 years, he was often looked at as a lightning rod. What he was, however, was the leader this franchise needed through some of its most challenging days. The start wasn’t exactly smooth for Horcoff.
After wrapping up a solid four-year career at Michigan State than saw him captain the team to a National Championship and win player of the year in his senior season, Horcoff broke into the NHL. In his first season he would split time between the big club and the team’s AHL affiliate, the Hamilton Bulldogs. He scored 16 points in 49 NHL games and another 28 in 24 AHL games.
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He got his full-time start in the NHL in 2001-02, and never looked back. His most productive years in the league was a six-year stretch between 2002 and 2009 that saw him score 103 goals and 300 points in 450 games. Smack dab in the middle was the 2005-06 season, a historic one in Edmonton, and the best of Horcoff’s 15-year career.
In 79 games that season, Horcoff scored 22 goals and 73 points going on to have a tremendous run in the playoffs, too. He led all forwards in scoring with seven goals and 19 points in 24 games during that stretch. His performance led the Oilers to naming Horcoff an assistant captain ahead of the 206-07 season.
And as the team turned from contenders to basement dwellers, you could always count on Horcoff. He wore the ‘C” in his final three years, was a consistent point producer for the team, and always posted strong possession numbers relative to the other Oilers.
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As Horcoff got into his mid-30s, you could see the drop-off in his game coming. Despite scoring 34 points in 81 games in 2011-12, the Oilers were heavily outscored with him on the ice. In the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, he scored seven goals and 12 points in 31 games in what would ultimately be his final year in Edmonton.
On July 5th, 2013, the Oilers traded him to the Dallas Stars for a 7th-round pick and defenceman Philip Larsen. Horcoff played two years in Dallas before spending the 2015-16 season with the Anaheim Ducks, his last in the NHL. Larsen played 30 games for the Oilers in 2013-14 and was traded years later to the Vancouver Canucks for future considerations.
Horcoff, meanwhile, has gone on to have a very successful career working in hockey since. In 2016-17 he joined the Detroit Red Wings as a director of player personnel and last season was promoted to assistant general manager of the club, and general manager of their AHL affiliate, the Grand Rapid Griffins.
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Zach Laing is the Nation Network’s news director and senior columnist. He can be followed on Twitter at @zjlaing, or reached by email at [email protected]