by Marc Ciampa
One of the biggest questions coming out of training camp at the start of the 2005-06 season was can Shawn Horcoff
be a number-one center? Horcoff answered the questions by scoring 24 seconds into the first game of the regular. 82 games later, Horcoff ended up second on the team with 73 points. He was also second on the team in scoring during the 2006 playoff run with 19 points and has now established himself as a key component of the Oilers attack.
ADVICE FOR ASPIRING YOUNG HOCKEY PLAYERS:
If youre young, the most important thing is to have fun right now. Its not so much to focus all your attention on making the NHL – I think thats the worst advice any parent can give. I see that now, kids five, six, seven years old playing hockey 12 months of the year. I think thats just ridiculous. For me, I played probably six or seven months up until I was 14 years old. I was able to play soccer and other sports but when I came back at the end of the summer I was really excited to get going and it was enjoyable for me. Once you get older theres a lot you can do. You need to find the right trainer and make sure youre physically ready because thats a major part of playing in the NHL.
ON HIS PRE-GAME ROUTINE:
I get there about three hours before; have a bagel or fruit – something to eat. Then I get a quick massage, do my skates, laces and stick. Ill sit there for a little bit, just have a coffee and unwind for about half an hour. Ill go to the gym and do a strength routine and warm-up before getting out there for the pre-game skate.
ON BLOCKING SHOTS:
If you do it right, you know youre not going to get hurt that often. Its a dangerous play because any time that D-man winds up at close range, if its anywhere near the head it can be a dangerous situation. The more shots that we can block, the less the goaltenders have to worry about.
ON UNWINDING AFTER A GAME:
Now that I have a family, its a lot easier. Hopefully my daughters up and I get to play with her a little bit. That kind of takes my mind off the game and lets me wind down. Its tough, Im not that good of a sleeper as a lot of guys arent at the end of games because youre emotionally charged. Travelling after games is nice. You get to hydrate, have some food and by the time you get to the hotel youre pretty tired by that point and you can get to sleep.
ON ROSTER TURNOVER IN THE NEW NHL:
Its just part of the job, part of being a professional. Especially now, with the salary cap issues youre going to see a lot of that. Youre going to see teams build around five or six forwards, three defencemen and a goalie and everyone else changes. Now its more of a business, fitting players in financially and trying to stay under the cap for a lot of teams.
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF A PLAYOFF RUN WITH THIS SEASONS OILERS:
I think the team we have this year is definitely stronger than the one weve started with in the past. Its not so much the type of team we have; its gelling and playing your best hockey come the end of the year. Obviously time will tell with us but I think we have a lot of areas on our team that are conducive to having a long playoff run. But its still early. Last year, we never caught our stride until the playoffs. Its all about confidence and one thing have this year is the confidence in our ability to get in and do some damage again.
PERSONAL EXPECTATIONS AND GOALS THIS SEASON:
Just to become a better overall player. Last year offensively was a coming-out season for me and it gave me the confidence to know I can do it in the league. I had it in myself but I had to prove it to the coaching staff and my fellow teammates. I want to become a better defensive player. You want to become someone who can play in any situation, is counted upon by his teammates to always get the job done.