By Adam Brady
It’s been a frustrating past seven weeks for Shawn Horcoff
, but it’s a circumstance he knows he brought upon himself.
Back on January 26, the Ducks forward was suspended 20 games by the NHL for “violating the terms of the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program.” Tonight against New Jersey at Honda Center, Horcoff will draw into the lineup for the first time since that suspension ended last Friday.
“I’m excited,” said the 37-year-old Horcoff following this morning’s skate. “Obviously it’s been a long time coming and I worked hard to get back, so I’m looking forward to tonight.”
Horcoff handled the suspension admirably, issuing this statement through the NHL Players Association soon after it was announced:
“While recovering from an injury I suffered this past fall, I tried a treatment that I believed would help speed up the healing process.
Although I was unaware that this treatment was not permitted under NHL rules, that is no excuse whatsoever. I should have done my research, and I should have checked with the NHL/NHLPA Performance Enhancing Substances Program’s doctors. I accept full responsibility for my actions, and I am sorry.
Throughout my entire career, I have felt genuinely blessed and honored to play the great game of hockey, and I regret the impact that this may have on my team and our fans.
I look forward to the day I return to the ice for the playoff push.”
Internally, he addressed the situation “right off the bat” with his teammates and coaches.
“I wanted to get that out in the open and get my story across and just be honest about it,” Horcoff said. “I had great support from them. I made a mistake, obviously, not looking into the treatment that I was getting for what was an obvious injury. It would be different if I was out there legitimately trying to performance enhance. I think that’s what gave me great support, and they were really supportive right off the bat – the organization, the coaches, the team, fans, other players around the league. That made things a heck of a lot easier for me.”
|"I made a mistake, obviously, not looking into the treatment that I was getting for what was an obvious injury. It would be different if I was out there legitimately trying to performance enhance. I think that’s what gave me great support, and they were really supportive right off the bat – the organization, the coaches, the team, fans, other players around the league. That made things a heck of a lot easier for me.” |
Horcoff wasn’t allowed to skate with the team until one week before the suspension ended, so he did most of his work in the gym with Ducks Strength & Conditioning coach Mark Fitzgerald.
“I worked with Fitzy and we tried to build strength back,” Horcoff said. “As the season wears on, you’re not able to get in the gym as much as you want, and your strength goes a little bit. So we tried to use this as an opportunity to get that strength and power back. Then towards the end, I was on the ice a lot to get ready for this.”
“This” would be tonight’s matchup with New Jersey, which will be game 995 of Horcoff’s 15-year NHL career, inching him that much closer to a significant milestone. “I haven’t really thought about it too much at all. Milestones just mean getting older,” he said with a chuckle. “I think they’re something you look back on when your career is over, and you think about those things a little more. A thousand games would be nice, and when you get to a milestone like that it’s just a culmination of a lot of hard work and just being able to do your job well enough to stay in the league a long time.”
Right now his focus is on tonight, a long-awaited return to the lineup after spending almost two months watching games attentively from the Honda Center press box or on television.
“It’s obviously been a little while, but I’m just going to try and go out there and get a feel for the game,” said Horcoff, who will likely skate with Mike Santorelli and Ryan Garbutt on Anaheim’s fourth line tonight. “It’s going to take a little bit, but I’m going to try and get involved early and go out there and do what I do and try to bring whatever I can to the team and get a big win for us.”