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Tencer's Blog: Horcoff staying put

by Dan Tencer / Edmonton Oilers

Shawn Horcoff participated in his first NHL All-Star Game this past January (photo: Getty Images)

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Copper and blue are the only NHL colours that Shawn Horcoff has ever known and he has no desire to take them off any time soon. Earlier today, the Oilers announced that Horcoff had accepted a 6 year contract extension that will keep him in Edmonton through the 2014-15 season.

"I've been with the same organization since I've been drafted; it's been 8 years now," Horcoff said. "To sign another long extension like this is exactly what we want and the right thing to do."

By "we" Horcoff means he and his family, who were a big part of his decision making process. Having a wife and 2 small children who have developed roots here and enjoy the city made it an easy decision. "It's a very enjoyable place for us. It was really a no-brainer to try to stay there as long as we could."

To Shawn, it's about family and being able to win on the ice; it isn't about the money. When I talked to him on the phone earlier tonight I asked him about the economics of the league right now; he knows them as well as anybody being the Oilers rep for the NHLPA. The way the cap has risen, and will presumably continue to rise, players see their value go up each season based solely on the rising floor and ceiling of the cap. I wondered if it had occurred to Horcoff that he could potentially be leaving money on the table long term by signing for 6 more years and not waiting to explore free agency. "How much is enough, how much do you need," Horcoff asked me rhetorically. "I just wanna win. How much I'm giving up in the long run isn't important to me."

That said, Horcoff is a straight shooter. He's not going to try to float the notion that he never considered free agency. He did, but again, it came down to simply wanting to win. "Obviously I thought about it," Horcoff admitted. "When I look at teams and where I want to be, I'm strictly thinking about who is gonna win. Realistically, there's only about 12 or 14 teams that have a realistic chance of winning in the next 5 or 6 years and I strongly feel that Edmonton is one of those teams. An extension would not have got done if I didn't feel that way."

And, Horcoff is convinced that the Oilers are going to win sooner rather than later. With the additions of the likes of Erik Cole and Lubomir Visnovsky and the further progression of youngsters like Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Tom Gilbert, Horcoff feels the puzzle is close to being complete. "Personally, I think this team has a lot of upside right now," says #10. "I really think you're gonna see the fruits of that sooner rather than later."

Enter Kevin Prendergast, Oilers Vice President of Hockey Operations. He said today that this deal makes a lot of sense for a team that is poised to win in the near future. "We feel we have something special going here with this hockey club and Shawn is one of our leaders and one of the key parts of our team," Prendergast told a media conference call earlier today. "From our standpoint, as Shawn said, it's a no-brainer."

"When you have players that you're comfortable with and you know their work ethic and the type of people they are, it makes it easier to build your hockey club around them. We've got guys like Ethan (Moreau) and Steve Staios and Horc; these are the guys you're gonna win with and these are the guys that are gonna teach the young guys how to win and how hard it is to get there."

The signing today is, in a lot of ways, the final hurdle in securing the core of the team long term. Horcoff joins Sheldon Souray, Lubomir Visnovsky, Tom Gilbert, Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner as Oilers who have 4 years or more remaining on their contract. Gagner, Cogliano, Brodziak etc. are all young and still years away from unrestricted free agency. And, with the new ownership under Daryl Katz, the financial resources will certainly be available to keep the youngsters around long term as well. In fact, the change of ownership had a lot to do with Shawn Horcoff's decision to stay long term.

"It almost has everything to do with it," he said earlier tonight. "I actually knew Daryl personally a little bit before he became owner of our team. I got to talk to him a lot more during the Hossa negotiations; I think for 3 days we were on the phone pretty consistently. I got a good picture of what his visions were for the future and I got really excited. You can't build a winning team unless you've got an owner who is willing to go the extra mile and I've got a lot of trust in that guy as a person and an owner."

Dan's Dish: Wondering about the back-to-back home games in the pre-season versus the Florida Panthers? Why on earth would Florida travel all the way to Edmonton to play in the pre-season? Well, the answer is easy; the Panthers hold their training camp in Colorado. Probably easier to find ice...
You can listen to Dan on Inside Sports weeknights from 8 to 11 on 630 CHED.

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