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Stars' Horcoff returns to Edmonton to face Oilers

by Derek Van Diest

EDMONTON -- Shawn Horcoff is back in familiar surroundings.

The Dallas Stars forward spent 13 years with the Edmonton Oilers and will face his former team for the first time Wednesday.

"It's different being here," Horcoff said. "I wanted to go right [toward the home team dressing room] when I walked in here his morning. I guess old habits are hard to break.

"I'm just looking forward to the game, to tell you the truth. Obviously as the game gets closer, I'll get a little more nervous and a little more emotional. It's going to be fun. It's going to be nice to actually play the game and have some closure."

Horcoff, 35, was selected by the Oilers in the fourth round (No. 99) of the 1998 NHL Draft. A longshot to even make the team coming out of Michigan State University, the Trail, B.C., product went on to become the Oilers captain before being traded to the Stars this summer for defenseman Philip Larsen and a seventh-round pick in 2016.

He goes into the game Wednesday with two goals and three assists on the season.

"It's probably been a while since I've been this nervous for a game," Horcoff said. "I'm pretty good right now, but we'll see what happens once the game starts. I'm sure after the first couple of shifts, I'll be able to forget about it, just get out there and do what we do."

Horcoff's best moments with the Oilers came in 2006 when he helped lead the team to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final, where they fell to the Carolina Hurricanes.

It was the last playoff game Horcoff played, stuck in a rebuilding cycle with the Oilers for the next seven seasons.

This summer, Oilers general manager Craig MacTavish decided it was time to part ways with Horcoff in order for both sides to get a fresh start.

Joining a strong leadership core in Dallas, Horcoff has fit in well with the Stars.

"Shawn's been good, we've used him in a lot of different situations," Stars coach Lindy Ruff said. "I've had him as a net-front presence on the power play, used him penalty killing, he's been a great guy in the room. He's working out well for us."

It is expected the Oilers will honor Horcoff with a video tribute at some point during the game. He had a big influence on a number of young players during his tenure in Edmonton.

"Just getting a chance to play with [Horcoff] and knowing him, you have a great amount of respect for the way he approaches the game and his professionalism," Oilers center Sam Gagner said. "I know for myself, I've learned a lot from him over the years on how to approach the game. It's going to be fun playing against him [Wednesday] and I'm sure there are going to be some mixed emotions for him coming back. I'm sure he's excited for it."

Horcoff is expected to play on the wing alongside Vernon Fiddler and Rich Peverley on the Stars' third line.

Kari Lehtonen will start in goal for the Stars, while Devan Dubnyk gets the call for the Oilers.

Here are the expected lineups for the Stars and Oilers:


Jamie BennTyler SeguinValeri Nichushkin

Erik ColeCody EakinAlex Chiasson

Shawn HorcoffVernon FiddlerRich Peverley

Antoine RousselTravis MorinRyan Garbutt

Brenden DillonStephane Robidas

Alex GoligoskiJordie Benn

Trevor DaleySergei Gonchar

Kari Lehtonen

Dan Ellis

Scratched: Aaron Rome, Lane MacDermid

Injured: Ray Whitney (lower body)


Taylor HallSam GagnerAles Hemsky

David PerronRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle

Jesse JoensuuBoyd GordonRyan Jones

Ryan SmythMark ArcobelloNail Yakupov

Andrew FerenceJeff Petry

Anton BelovPhilip Larsen

Nick SchultzCorey Potter

Devan Dubnyk

Jason LaBarbera

Scratched: Luke Gazdic, Will Acton

Injured: Justin Schultz (groin)

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