By Adam Brady
One side was looking for a center with grit and veteran savvy. The other side was desperately seeking chance to win a Stanley Cup. So just a couple days after the July 1 start of free agency, the Ducks and Shawn Horcoff put pen to paper on a one-year contract that brought the 37-year-old to Anaheim.
The 6-1, 210-pound Horcoff played the last two seasons with the Dallas Stars after spending the first 12 of his career in Edmonton. Last year in Dallas he had 11 goals and 18 assists, along with a +9 rating that was second on the team.
A Closer Look at Shawn Horcoff
Grew up in: Castlegar, BC
High school: Graduated in 1996 from Stanley Humphries in Castlegar
Family: Wife Cindy, daughters Jade (10) and Lauder (7 months) and son William
Favorite NHL player growing up: Steve Yzerman
Favorite hockey moment: Playing in the Stanley Cup Final
Pregame superstition: I have a pretty detailed routine from the time I take my pregame nap till pregame warmup. No superstitions though.
Favorite TV show: Breaking Bad
Favorite movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Favorite band: I like all music, so no favorite.
Something on your iPod you're ashamed of: I have kids so plenty to be embarrassed about
Favorite food: Italian
Strangest thing you've been asked to autograph: Kid’s forehead
Secret talent: If I told you it wouldn’t be a secret.
Where you spent most of your summer: Michigan
What you did this summer: Lots of kids tennis and lacrosse. Plus my favorite pastime is golf so as much of that as I can.
But Horcoff brings the kind of game that goes beyond the numbers, a fit in any situation and the locker room presence of a man who has spent 14 years in the NHL. He’s also got the playoff experience the Ducks will covet come springtime, having played 41 postseason games and scoring 11 goals. That includes two hard-fought playoff series against the Ducks — with the Oilers in the 2005 Western Conference Final (a win that sent Edmonton to the Stanley Cup Final) and in the First Round with the Stars in 2014.
On the cusp of his first training camp in Anaheim, the affable Horcoff spoke about his decision to sign with the Ducks and his hopes for this season.
What was the free agency process like for you this summer?
It was my first time being unrestricted, and I kind of went into it thinking it was going to be this easy decision. It was far from that. I shouldn’t say the decision was hard, it was just that the process was hard. When you have a family, wife and three kids, there is a lot that goes into it other than just hockey. For myself though, I started talking to teams and there was some interest. It’s an exciting time because you have the opportunity to go to all these different places and figure out where you’ll fit in certain areas.
What ultimately led to your decision to sign with the Ducks?
Once Anaheim called, that was really a changing point for me. I thought playing against them so many times, including in the playoffs [with Dallas] two years ago, I feel like they’re a team that’s really really close. My goal, especially at my age now, is to win the Stanley Cup first and foremost. That’s really all that I focus on at this point in my career. Statistics and things like that just don’t mean as much to me anymore. I want to win. I talked to Bob and Bruce on the phone, and they explained to me what they’re looking for and what they want out of me. I just thought it was a perfect fit.
How much of it was a family decision?
A lot. I have a 10-year-old, an 8-year-old and a newborn, and the two older ones are really active in sports, so that was a factor. Schooling obviously is a big thing. And obviously it’s one of the better places in the league to live. That kind of made the decision easy. My wife [Cindy] is an amazing person. She’s really supportive. I was looking for a little guidance and she said, “We need to do what’s best for your career at this point. You don’t know how many years you have left. The goal right now is to win the Stanley Cup, so wherever you feel that’s going to give you the best opportunity, wherever that is, let’s pursue that.” In my mind, Anaheim gives me that best opportunity in the league, and it’s just a great place to live to. So everything sort of worked out.
You know a few guys in this organization too.
Yep. I played with Toddy Marchant, which is dating myself a little bit. [Laughs] I played with Cogs in Edmonton and I played with Scott Niedermayer at the [World Championships]. I’ve known Getz and Perry for a long time, and I’ve played against Kes and Bieksa for many games. I know some of the new guys, like Chris Stewart. So, I’m pretty familiar. I think when you play enough years in the league, you get to know people and build relationships. So it was comfortable walking into the dressing room for the first time.
Did you talk to any of them when you were making your decision?
Cogs a lot. I’ve kept in a lot of contact with him, and we’re good friends, so I talked with him a lot during the process. But once July hits, you don’t have a lot of time to make a decision, and it wasn’t an all too difficult one for me.
How has it been moving to Orange County?
That’s always busy. I just went through it a couple years ago going from Edmonton to Dallas, so you get a little bit used to it. We’re just starting to get settled now. We’re happy with the house and the move is great. The kids are in school, and my wife and I are really happy with that. Things are going in the right direction.
Ducks fans have seen you play many times as an opponent, but what would you like them to know you bring to Anaheim?
I’m in a situation now where I can play any kind of forward position. I’ve played both wings, and I’ve played center. I played a majority of wing in Dallas, but a majority of center all my years in Edmonton. I play penalty kill, and I’ve built myself into being the best all-around player I can be, really trying to bring as much as I can to every situation. At the end of the day, effort and intensity really is kind of what I’ve built my career on, and I try to bring that.