EDMONTON - Shawn Horcoff knew that shoulder surgery was coming - he just didn't want it to be so soon.
The leading scorer of the Edmonton Oilers found out Monday that he has a torn labrum in his left shoulder and will need surgery this week. His season is over. "It's obviously disappointing," said Horcoff. "The MRI doesn't lie. It shows there is a tear there.
"It's inevitable I was going to need surgery. It was just a matter of when. It's got to the point now where I just can't compete."
Horcoff has had difficulty with the shoulder since early October but he played through it until aggravating the injury when he took an awkward fall during the NHL all-star game in Atlanta on Jan. 27.
The 29-year-old played all 52 games before the all-star break despite the injury. He was on pace for a career year with 50 points, including 21 goals, when he went to Georgia as the team's lone representative in the all-star game.
Horcoff had an MRI done upon returning to Edmonton. He played in the Oilers first game after the break, a 3-0 loss to San Jose on Jan. 29, before sitting out a loss to Dallas last Friday.
"I tweaked it three times before that already this season," said Horcoff. "Each time you do it, it gets worse.
"That's the thing that scared me the most. It was just a harmless play. I got clipped from behind a little bit and I just went to catch myself on the ice. It (shoulder) sublexed. It popped in and out."
Having lost 210 man games to injury going into Monday's game against Calgary, the Oilers are already without Raffi Torres, out for the season after knee surgery, and defenceman Sheldon Souray, who has been in and out of the lineup with a shoulder injury.
Now, coach Craig MacTavish has to get along without Horcoff, his top centre and most reliable penalty killer.
"You make due with what you have," said MacTavish, who has been without Torres, Souray, Fernando Pisani and Joni Pitkanen for protracted stretches. "You hope guys are ready to step up."
MacTavish has elevated veteran Marty Reasoner to his first line between Dustin Penner and Ales Hemsky, but there's no replacing the consistency at both ends of the ice Horcoff has provided this season.
"I liked the way we competed in the last game," MacTavish said. "I felt we certainly played well enough to win against a tough Dallas team.
"I don't get wrapped up in a bunch of self-pity. I don't pity our situation. We just have to go out there, suck it up and rally around it."
With 21 goals, Horcoff seemed a sure bet to surpass his career-high of 22, set during the 2005-06 season. Now, with surgery scheduled sometime in the next week and recovery expected to take six months, Horcoff won't be a factor in Edmonton's push for a Western Conference playoff spot.
"It's frustrating because I'm not going to be able to compete, but I still have confidence in the team," said Horcoff. "All this team needs to do is get one good win under our belt, get some confidence from that and go on a roll.
"I don't get any sense that there's a loss of confidence."