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Principe's Blog: Captain Shawns Brightly

by Gene Principe / Edmonton Oilers
Oilers captain Shawn Horcoff has yet to record a point in 2011-12, but is 66.1-percent in the faceoff circle through three games.

OK I'll admit it, it took my entire willpower not to write a blog this week about Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. It would be so natural to do it coming off his hat trick on Saturday and his slick start to the season. However, I decided to go in a different direction. Maybe it's because I'll be writing many more blogs on RNH in both the near and distant future. Instead, I'll take Shawn Horcoff as my choice.

A little out of left field, some might think, but I thought early in the season it would be the right time to write something about the longest serving Oiler. It wasn't my plan Monday morning I thought for sure a follow-up to Nugent-Hopkins' hat trick would be first choice or maybe something on the 'Kid Line' with RNH's wing men Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle. However, this morning the captain was being the captain and I figured a little public acknowledgement couldn't hurt the 13th man to wear the 'C' in Edmonton history.

The biggest problem and blessing for Horcoff is his salary, because you can't start or end a sentence without mentioning how much money he makes. Not his fault and, in fact, which one of us wouldn't pat ourselves on the back for getting a huge raise? Whether he earned it or not at some point becomes irrelevant. He makes what he makes. Horcoff's salary fits under the cap and that should be it. CrIticizing or critiquing his numbers shouldn't include his bank account just his numbers on the ice.

On the ice is where I first noticed it this morning. Horcoff having a good long chat with Taylor Hall and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. I can't say I heard what they were talking about but it looked like advice of some kind to help out the club's franchise players.

Not long after that it was Horcoff at it again, with some help from Eric Belanger, spending time on faceoffs with RNH. Again, lending a word or two of advice along with some positioning tips. Now remember, in theory here's Horcoff helping the guy who has taken his job. I understand Nugent-Hopkins one day being the first line centre, but here's Horcoff trying to help him do it now; no standing in his way. In fact, he's helping clear a path. RNH's one weakness so far has been faceoffs, and who jumps into help but the captain.

Imagine a guy at work who your in direct competition with trying to help you get a promotion that you want. In essence that's what Horcoff has done. Horcoff is doing nothing but helping promote RNH. He is safe in his salary and his situation, but I still think you have to put any ego aside for the good of the other player and the good of the team.

Horcoff appears to be doing that which makes me believe him all the more when he says all he wants to do is win. He's not just saying it, he's also doing it. Just ask RNH, Taylor Hall and I'm guessing the rest of the Edmonton Oilers.


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