Monday, September 8, 2008

Shawn Horcoff Interview - September 4 2008

Shawn Horcoff is a smart player. When he gives an interview it's interesting to hear his perspective on the team. Horcoff recently did an interview on the Oilers website where he talked about the importance of having young players or depth in being able to win:

"I think that in today's world - and I think Detroit exemplifies it better than anyone - you need your young guys to step up and play well, and they need to contribute. I think there's probably fifteen to twenty teams in the league that have the veteran leadership to be able to win the Stanley Cup, but you have to be able to roll four lines. It's so hard to go four rounds and win. You can't just do it playing a select few guys. We have three or four guys under 21 who can be impact players now."

I would love to ask some follow-up questions about what he means here. Impact players under twenty-one? Certainly Gagner, but who else is he talking about. It's not a big point by any means but it seems that Horcoff is conflating some of the youth on the team with Gagner himself, unless he thinks (and maybe he does) that Cogliano, Brule and Schremp are going to be positive impact players now. Even then, they're 21. It just shows how good Gagner is. I would say that it isn't a stretch here to think that Horcoff is talking mostly about the Kid Line and that for him Kid Line = Sam Gagner.

Fifteen to twenty teams that have a chance at winning the Stanley Cup? This sounds like a cover for Edmonton more than anything. He's pulling a number out of seemingly nowhere to say that in his mind there is a chance that this year he could win the Stanley Cup. That, or maybe he just knows that there's a lot of luck in this game.

Horcoff obviously knows that there are some players who are better (and more important) than others, and he's been playing hockey at a high level for long a time. No literal rolling four lines. It's clearly a figure of speech to simplify the game for the listener, so how close is it to what he believes. I'm not sure, but I think I would take this more as a statement of "we need everyone pulling in the same direction." It's not really what he said, but what he said seems impossible for him to believe and I'd certainly like to think that he really is simplifying for people instead of lying to them. If it is a metaphor, it's one that's biased towards the impact of forwards on the game. It may be worth watching to see if his metaphors have a tendency to veer in that direction and that's he's expressing an opinion with them, namely, that forwards drive results.


Vic Ferrari said...

I think that Horcoff is a hell of a player and is a bright guy, I don't find him to be all that interesting in an interview. Possibly just because he's careful enough to say all of the right things.

Moreau, on the other hand, is terrific imo. And unflappable.

I think that Horocff sees enough of the young guys in practice and on the road, that he has a decent gauge of their talent level and willingness to become the kinds of players that help you win hockey games. And I suspect that you're right that he's thinking 'Gagner' when he's saying 'young players'.

He must look at him in practice, remember where his own game was at when he was barely 18 years old, and he probably starts feeling a bit warm and fuzzy about the future of this team.

We all know that with young players, it's usually two steps forward and one back. Still, barring serious injury, Gagner looks set to become a difference maker imo. And they have some other good young players as well, guys who will almost certainly become better players over the next few years.

For this year, I'll be as happy if they can squeak into the playoffs. And getting to the end of November with the playoff spot still really close ... that would help a tonne. The back half of the Oilers sked looks a lot softer, and a lot of guys should be a bit better by then.

As always, every night is going to be a battle, every point hard earned. And as MacTavish said near the tail end of last seasons hot stretch ... this team isn't likely to win if they get a bad break (same goes for most teams in this league methinks).

BTW: Coaches are always so negative, nature of the beast it seems. Couldn't MacTavish just as easily have said "If we get a good break in any game, we're probably going to win it!" ?

Scott said...

Hey Vic,

Thanks very much for the comment. I appreciate knowing people read the posts.

Gagner really does look to be a great player. I'm hopefully going to get around to throwing something up as a gauge for what to expect from him in the upcoming year. Hopefully it won't be just conjecture (the alternative, of course, being statistical conjecture, but at least there's a chance of learning something from that).

The playoffs is a good goal. They're certainly not at a level where anything more can be reasonably hoped for.

Thanks again.