We all have our favorite players. I’m not talking about Ales Hemsky, hell any fool can appreciate that guy he’s a freak. My daughter turned to me at the Joey Moss game and said “I wish the Oilers had THAT guy” as he skated through the town team.

Shawn Horcoff is my favorite Oiler among the humans on the team. Horcoff is an acquired taste. Like the Talking Heads, or Monk.

If he were a movie character, Shawn Horcoff would be David Mann. Horcoff is much stronger than David Mann of course but the obstacles he’s overcome sometimes resemble that big old Peterbilt.

First time I saw Horcoff he had position on another center and rode him out of the play as the puck zipped dangerously through the scoring area. It was a subtle play, perfectly executed. He was pretty much NHL ready out of college, but when he got to the show that big showoff Mike Comrie got all the glory (Comrie’s entry into the NHL was a bit of a show in and of itself, for those who don’t recall it).

Horcoff outlasted Comrie, and he eventually rose to the role of “go-to” center. He had a wonderful run to the SCF and despite appearances had a pretty good 06-07 until the Smyth trade and the wheels falling off. Even then he (like poor David Mann) kept trying to get that little Valiant to the finish line.

Recent comments by coach MacTavish have Horcoff still doing the “heavy lifting” at EVs and getting plenty of PP time. Looks like Cogliano, Schremp or Gagner are going to get the sexy wingers (including THAT guy) and Horcoff will be left with bald tires and a bad radiator.

The Canadian Press rolled with a story about half an hour ago quoting Horcoff and his reaction to MacT’s weekend comments:

  • “You are a little bit conscious of it,” admits Horcoff, asked if he’s keeping tabs on Gagner and Cogliano. “It’s better for me. It pushes me. It makes me come to the rink every day, be at my best and prove that I can do the job there.”
  • “There are spots open and spots to be taken,” said Horcoff. “At the same, with young guys, their confidence can be fragile and you don’t want to ride them too hard. You want to keep them positive and upbeat.”
  • “Once the regular season starts, Mac’s going to want wins. He’s going to play guys who are playing well. That’s all there is to it. He can say what he wants now, but I’m sure in the back of his mind he’s thinking the same thing – once the season starts, he’s going to go with the guys who give him the best opportunity to win.”

Horcoff is probably going to take a less offensive role this season, certainly at the start of the year and maybe deeper into the season if someone like Cogliano or Gagner can help Pensky (hat tip to Dennis for the nickname) score against the soft parade.

Shawn Horcoff is even more important to this team than he was a year ago. Why?

Have you seen the 07-08 Valiant?

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24 Responses to "Horcoff"

  1. Black Dog says:

    A poor man’s Dave Keon? 🙂

    Well, I’m poor …

    Love Horc – that series against SJ when he-everythinged Jumbo Joe was when he made the big time – what a player!

    I know there is a lot of fear out there but I have to think that if Cogliano and Gagner make it big and it comes down to Horc or Stoll being traded for a big name Dman or Roli’s replacement that Stoll will be the one to go. I like Stoll too but if it comes down to it I would think (hope) that they make the right decision and keep your man.

  2. MikeP says:

    It sounds like Horc understands what MacT thinks he is: a guy who can do duty on the first line, especially in a PvP role, but not necessarily a guy with enough snap to consistently have that role. It also sounds like Horc thinks he can get that snap, and it could be he can. He’ll never be Joe Sakic, but can he be a hundred point guy? Doubt it. 80 points? It’s not unconceivable. It sounds to me like he’s a bit hurt (which is understandable) but knows that the coach still feels he can be relied upon.

    Most valuable player this year? Quite possibly.

  3. Vic Ferrari says:

    Surely this is more about Hemsky than Horcoff. I mean whoever Hemsky is playing with will be designated as the first line by the kids.

    If anyone thought that Horcoff would be sat back and have his icetime limited so he could get shifted against soft opposition … well they were smoking the drapes. Horcoff would play against the other team’s best players because there is no other option that’s even close.

    Penner isn’t ready for that gig, hopefully he’ll be good enough one day. But it ain’t close, folks.

    So who gets Hemsky as a linemate? Turns out it’s Penner. Otherwise Penner gets Lupul’d.

    It’s a bit of a shame for Hemsky in the long run, he made huge strides last year I thought. In a two forward, one back, kind of way, still …. I mean everyone could see he had mad stick skills, right from the time he was 18. Same goes for Zherdev, Nash, Korolyuk, etc. But Hemsky was on his way to being a real difference maker. Ah well.

  4. Vic Ferrari says:

    Just to add, look at the H2H icetimes for the preseason game vs CGY. Now it’s just an exhibition game, you hope to hell that no veteran is stupid enough to stand in shooting lanes. Injuries are the only stats that matter this time of year.

    Still, usually NHLers play vs NHLers in these games. And Horcoff played the lion’s share against Iggy’s line. Keenan let Regehr get his reps in by playing him against Horcoff. And he was playing with Brodziak and Moreau (then Jacques).

    Penner won’t be playing with Horcoff unless the opposition has no star forwards.

  5. PDO says:


    I don’t think Hemsky is a lost cause in being a H2H player yet. My memory is foggy here…

    But was Iginla not used in a Jagranne fashion where he beat the piss out of the Brad Isbisters of the league when he won the Hart?

    He was still a few years older than Ales is now, and he’s now one of the best H2H options in the league…

  6. Lowetide says:

    Assuming Pensky are on the soft line and Torres and Nilsson are with Stoll that means Moreau and Brodziak are probably Horcoff’s wingmen.

    Three unproven guys with the Chaos D led by Sheldon Souray as Gorman Thomas.

  7. Dennis says:

    I’ve told this story so many times but I saw Horc’s last games in the AHL down here against the Leaves. He wasn’t great at anything, though I think he had 28 points in 24 GP before he was recalled, but he was good at everything. I came home that night and posted that Horcoff would be an NHLer.

    Anyway, I’m a Horc guy too. I love the fellows who are in supreme condition and the way he chased down Neidermayer that night in Ana during the ’06 run is something I won’t soon forget.

  8. Big T says:

    Totally Dennis, that was awesome. The hockey jesus just had to take that hooking minor rather than be outskated. Beautiful.

    Horc’s a beauty. And he might be a 90 point guy with PP time. When has he ever got a meaningful amount of first unit PP time?


  9. patrick9999 says:

    Wow…Long time reader, first time poster. I felt compelled to post based on the performance of Horc during the amazing 05-06 cup run. Am I the only one who remembers him throwing himself down in the dying minutes of a Detroit/Edmonton game only to catch a puck in the throat? If I recall correctly, MacT was the first person to jump over the bench to make sure Horc was o.k., and that moment still remains one of my favorite hockey moments of all time. A player going the distance and doing exactly what his coach asked, regardless of the danger involved. That kid has heart and I hope he stays with the oil for a long, long time.

    ETA, I posted this in the thread above, my mistake.

  10. gary b says:

    you know, i think this whole ‘Horcoff demoted!” stuff is a lot of hot air. i don’t think MacT is calling him out, kicking him while he’s down…

    Horc knows what he brings to the table. Mact knows what Horc brings to the table. and Horc knows that MacT knows… so he’s not a 100-point guy. oh well, he’s still a guy you go to war with, and he’s not going to pitch is tent when things get tough (hello, rhymes with “Joe Thornton”).

    As LT most expertly suggested, Horcoff’s value to this team has never been greater. i think we’re gonna see more ‘plug-and-play’ from MacT then ever before. Horco’s abilities as a situational guy will see him get oodles of ice time, regardless of how many rookie centers make this team (my money is on just the one, to start).

    I quite admire Horc’s response to all this, too. Team guy, doesn’t beak off, takes a bit of the high road. The guy tends to play like he’s got to something to prove anyway, so i thik he will be just fine.

    Secondly, i just don’t see Stoll going anywhere. i think he brings a lot of what Horc does, with a wicked shot to boot. And assuming he can stay healthy… well, we saw the sort of start he had last year. I can see him growing into ‘C’ material in the future (he is only 25).

    Lastly, one thing that i like about the organizations philosophy regarding their center icemen is the fact that skill isn’t enough – you have to be willing (and able) to do the work. faceoffs, shot blocking, defensive assignments, PK (hello, Rob Schremp). the idea that some of our blue-chippers at center will be learning some very good habits, and going thru all the drills over and over and over, either in practice here or down on the (single) farm team, is VERY encouraging.

  11. NBOilerFan says:

    I don’t think there are too many Oil fans that wouldn’t have Horcoff in their Top-5 favorite present-players list.

    But regardless, Horcoff is not a true #1 center. I have been saying that since the lock-out, that we needed a bonafide #1 centerman for Hemsky. I will admit that after an 05′ summer full of HF posts that we needed a bonafide #1 center, Horcoff came out and put in an amazing season that made me (and a lot of us) chew some crow, because I really didn’t expect him to play that well even.

    But I still hold true that he is not a #1 center, and last year helps strengthen that. If slated the #1 position this year, which Horcoff is he; the 05/06 or 06/07 numbers man? (Will the real Horcoff please stand up?).

    Will he suffice as the #1 center? Certainly, but is still really just an awesome 2nd line center in my eyes (Stoll is also a #2 center, but I would have Horcoff a 2A and Stoll a 2B).

    But MacT’s comments really shouldn’t have been much of a shock. Lowe already said it loud enough with the attempted Nylander signing (which was reverberated throughout the league and world with the fiasco that ensued). Nylander was coming here for the #1 center role…. Plain and simple. Whether or not he would prove to be worthy enough is irrelevant, as he was going to be pen’d into the spot and it would have been his too lose.

    The fact that we didn’t land a bonafide #1 center just had every one of us (including Horcoff, I’m sure) assuming that the spot was therefore his again. We’ll, as the organization told us long ago, every spot is open for business. And the #1 spot is going to get a test run by some young, high-potential talent. If they can run with it, great, no need to make a trade. If not, it’s Horcoff’s for the taking…. But I also will say… should Horcoff not take advantage of that spot when given the opportunity, he better start thinking about the potential to land in another city, because it will be either he or Stoll that will be moved to try to fill that #1 center need.

    What’s that term??….. The Cold Hard Truth

  12. Ribs says:

    I’m with Horcoff on this one. As soon as the Oilers start losing with whatever chump gets that 1st line center work, he’ll revert back to Horcoff.

    I just hope they don’t lose as many games as they did last year before they made the same switch.

  13. IceDragoon says:

    Good day.

    Sakic couldn’t haul Pensky around PvP.

    Horcoff is primed. He continually fine-tunes his high-performance engine and MacT knows he can get 20+ minutes of the toughest hockey out of him each and every game.

    Personally, even before seeing them together this year, I still think he’s the best fit for Hemsky. Ales has come a long way, because he had #10 as his centre, imho. Horcoff is really smart and easy to play with. He earns the trust and accountability of his linemates.

    I was hoping Stoll would get Moreau and Pisani *sigh* and take the lion’s share of shut-down minutes. Horcoff, Penner and Hemsky would still get marked on the road, so Pensky would learn to play tougher minutes over time. And, Horcoff would get extra time as MacT needed.

    So much for that…

    MacT seems to be in a gambling mood, even with the increased risk of ‘no Pisani’.
    buckle up

    He’s also decided against the 10-27-83 trio for tonight’s game. Young Samwise is playing, tho… between Sanderson and Pouliot. Does coach want to see a potential, sometimes, 4th line?

    Here’s the line-up in Phoenix…

    Stoll – Torres – Nilsson
    Gagner – Sanderson – Pouliot
    Reasoner – Trukhno – O’Marra
    Schremp – Reddox – Bodie

    Smid – Gilbert
    Young – Bisaillon
    Syvret – Roy


    Methinks there will be some sinkers in this pool.


  14. Ribs says:

    Schremp with Reddox and Bodie?

    They really want him to fail, don’t they.
    PP time maybe? Ugh.

  15. happy says:

    agree with the accolades for hemsky and dont think it’s a bad idea to get PenSky the soft parade to maximize their offense (and pray that horcoff and his wingers can keep the puck out their zone enough to not expose souray and youngsters. but the real question is, is this the year hemsky breaks out and gets 90 points? is that even a remote possibility being centered by gagne or cogs?

  16. Jonathan says:

    Just a couple of points…
    A nice Ireland article on Reasoner (http://www.canada.com/edmontonjournal/news/sports/story.html?id=474ecc97-5fa7-4aa2-8f3e-0bd775b9f63d&p=1) which makes it sound like he’s much improved over last season. If he can handle tough minutes (maybe on the wing?) that would be a big help to this team, and perhaps allow Horcoff a chance to get some more offensive shifts (or rest!) Anyways, if the Oilers go with a young gun on the soft minutes line, and Reasoners back, could a centre alignment like this be realistic? – Horcoff – 20+ mins, incl. 3rd, PP, and some 1st; Stoll – 15-20mins, 2nd, PP, PK; Reasoner – 15 mins, 3rd/4th, PK; Cogliano or Gagner – 5-10 mins, 1st line.

    Oh, and on Schremp’s linemates tonight, here’s a quote that could apply (although MacTavish is talking about Gagner): “I think Gagner has good enough players with him that he should get something done,” said MacTavish. “You look at Cogliano, who went into Calgary with Troy Bodie and JF Jacques and got two goals. It’s not all about who you’re playing with; you have to make the most of your opportunity

  17. Rube Foster says:

    Horc a poor man’s Dave Keon?

    Chein Noir, I like it. Kinda fits. Davey Keon was the heart and soul of those late sixties early seventies Leafs team. Norm Ullman and later a young Daryl Sittler were the high scoring centermen on those teams, but everyone knew that Keon was the leafs best player and always did their heavy lifting.

    I can see Horcoff fitting into that role and really it’s not too dissimilar to the role that Brindamour played for the Hurricanes when they got us a couple years back. Now if only one of the young guys can “pull a Staal” we’ll be laughing. Actually, I’d even settle for a Mike Walton…

    You know, with the shape that Horc keeps himself in I can see him playing for a very long time. Leafheads may choke on this, but when it’s all said and done I could see Horc being a very good comp for Mr. Keon.

    LT – Souray as Gorman Thomas – Beautiful! Lets hope Joni P. turns into Cecil Cooper…

  18. godot10 says:

    //Schremp with Reddox and Bodie?
    They really want him to fail, don’t they.
    PP time maybe? Ugh.//

    Cogliano had Bodie and Jacques against Calgary…turned lemons into lemonade.

    Linemates are an excuse for AHL players, an opportunity for NHL players.

  19. jadeddog says:

    vic – while i see your point about hemsky 5v5, i dont think hes a lost cause in that regard…. sure he made great strides last year playing with horcoff, but i see no reason why he’ll become rick nash overnight…. hemsky is still gonna see the opposing teams shutdown line or top line on the road, no matter how macT juggles the lines…. we all have to remember that hemsky just turned 24 as well, hes still got a good 2, maybe 3, years of “learning the game” left to go before hes a finished product

    all this talk of giving hemsky soft mins and horcoff doing the heavy lifting is really only applicable at home …. i would be surprised as at to see macT go with a penner-horcoff-hemsky on the road and in tight games … of course thats assuming horcoff isnt on the top line all the time anyhow, and i think horcoff will be put back on the top line within 5-10 games of the start of the season (when it becomes obvious that cogs/gagner isnt good enough)

  20. Dennis says:

    Nice to hear that 19’s bounced back a little, to me, he’s never looked the same since he got hurt that night in TO. And yes there is a chance that him and 18 and Brodz could handle some tough min allowing 10 plus PenSky to take on the second toughest min or maybe exploit the soft altogether.

    The way I read Cogs getting the spot tonight is that obviously he’s a guy they’d give the push to first considering he’s older they have some A leverage on him. Plus, he’s a little bit hot after Sat night so let’s give him some linemates to go with his confidence and see how it turns out.

    Regarding Schremp, I think he’s getting a pass from everyone this camp because he came in behind the injury eight ball and it’s a lot easier to look the other way on him when Cogs, Nilsson and Gagner are doing a job. I’m saying that people really start looking towards Robbie at say the 25 game mark in the A when he should be fully recovered and start to make an impact in the A. If he’s not over a PPG starting at that point, then the knives are out.

    Also, count me among the fellows who aren’t ready to give up on 83 regarding PVP, though I’m not sure that’s what Vic meant either. A big part of any successful PVP line is keeping the puck out of your zone and Hemsky can do that because he’s gifted. He’s also fast enough to backcheck on just about anyone if he’s motivated. I’d imagine that the Pahlsson line has been the gold standard for checking lines now for a couple of years and they don’t succeed by staying back at the blueline to thwart rushes, they do it by wasting your team’s offensive line time by keeping it in your zone. And that’s the same way our old MGM line did it with Rosie and Chopper being bulls on the boards.

    Of course we know that Horc can take on the tough, too. Him and 83 once did it together, of course the difference is who was riding on their port side then and who’d do it now.

    Doesn’t matter though.

    That guy was deemed not to be an elite player.

  21. oilerdiehard says:

    Was this the actor that played Shawn Horcoff’s David Mann character?


  22. Ribs says:

    It’s Bill S. Preston, Esquire! Party on dudes!

    In a kind of funny sidebar- I once tricked director Kevin Smith into believing I was Alex Winter on a message board he frequented while making the Jay and Silent Bob movie. I was just joking around with him but he seemed interested in the guy for the movie.

  23. oilerdiehard says:

    Shawn & MacT’s Excellent Adventure.

  24. BRIANK says:


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