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Principe's Blog: Captain's Cause & Effect

Gene Principe examines the role of Shawn Horcoff for this rebuilding Oilers squad

Tuesday, 08.02.2011 / 11:50 AM / Blogs
By Gene Principe
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Principe\'s Blog: Captain\'s Cause & Effect
Shawn Horcoff was officially named captain on October 6, 2010 (Photo by Andy Devlin / Edmonton Oilers Hockey Club).
It was a morning skate like so many others that the Edmonton Oilers have had this season but Monday morning there was a twist to what went on. It happened at the end of practice when Shawn Horcoff motioned everyone over for a chat. A little heart to heart from the captain to his hockey soldiers. A team in need who needed to hear from there leader. He delivered and so did they.

I understand that the result on Monday was just one win over Nashville but the point is the message didn't fall on deaf ears. With the situation Edmonton finds itself in there are only so many times, day after day, that the coach or coaches can vocalize what needs to be passed on. Also while they are part of the team they also, simply put, aren't one of the players. That's why when words of wisdom come from the captain it's different because he is one of them.

It was October 6th, 2010 that Shawn Horcoff became the 13th captain of the Edmonton Oilers. After a three year run by Ethan Moreau it was Horcoff's turn to take over the room and take over the team. A natural choice because of his tenure. It's not like he wasn't a leader before having worn an 'A' but wearing the 'C' brings with it the belief it stands for credibility and character among other things. In Horcoff's case it could also stand for contract. I do understand his lengthy deal is something that could have played a factor but if you consider the valid options he was the best choice long term deal or not.

A choice, in my mind, that had to be made. I'm not a big fan of the rotating 'C' on a month to month basis or having no one wear it. This team couldn't afford to do it any other way but to choose someone named Horcoff. I know he's not ever going to be like other captains named Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin,  Jonathan Toews or Nicklas Lidstrom. He is not that guy, not a league wide elite player but that doesn't mean he can't lead. Considering how young the Oilers are they needed a singular captain with merit.

I've been to nearly every morning skate and I do not remember Horcoff making his talk out in the public. I'm sure this isn't the first time he's done it but the first time he's done it for others to see. Timing is everything and he, from what was visible on Monday night vs. Nashville, picked his spot perfectly. With the losses piling up and frustration festering from young and old Horcoff chose to speak his mind.

While he is 32 years old and is in his 10th NHL year it's his first year as the captain. This is a learning curve for him to figure out what's the right thing to do or say. Interestingly enough we won't really find out how good a captain Horcoff is for years to come. It won't be until then before it's clearly defined on whether his sayings have the impact necessary. Like the old commercial from the 1980's investment firm Shawn Horcoff wants to be like EF Hutton because when EF Hutton talked people listened.

Author: Gene Principe

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