Home > Edmonton Oilers, News > Horcoff Is Named The Oilers 16th (Not 13th) Captain

Horcoff Is Named The Oilers 16th (Not 13th) Captain

It seems oddly appropriate to me that a team that is still unclear on how many goalies should be on an NHL roster – if you’re reading this Mr. Tambellini the answer isn’t three – also can’t count properly when it comes to their history. The Oilers franchise started playing hockey in 1972 as one of the initial teams in the WHA. After seven seasons, in 1979, the team was one of four WHA teams that were merged into the NHL. If not for those seven seasons there would be no NHL team in Edmonton today and yet those years are completely removed from the Oilers history.

Two years ago the Oilers proudly celebrated their thirtieth season; sadly their thirtieth season was played in 2001 not 2008. Today the Oilers named Shawn Horcoff their thirteenth captain which is only the case if you ignore the fact that Al Hamilton, Glen Sather, and Paul Schmyr were Oiler captains before the club joined the NHL. Hamilton’s #3 hangs retired in the rafters of Rexall Place even though he played just 31 games in the NHL as an Oiler and all Sather ever did is the architect the Oilers dynasty in the 1980s but yeah lets forget all about them. Oil on Whyte posted a story about these three forgotten Oiler captains if you’re interested.

I understand that the WHA wasn’t the NHL. Rosters were often filled primarily with minor leaguers and maybe a couple of recognizable NHL stars. I was alive for only 35 days before the last WHA game – a 7-3 Jets win over the Oilers – was played so I obviously never saw a game first hand so I’m going to have to assume that WHA games weren’t as good as what you might have seen from an NHL game. At the same time there were some great players in the league so I doubt the games were total garbage either. Houston, and later New England, had all three Howes playing together. Winnipeg had the HOT line with Anders Hedberg, Ulf Nilsson, and Bobby Hull. And of course Wayne Gretzky played a couple of games in the league as well. There are a lot of things the WHA might not have been but it was still something and it shouldn’t be forgotten or ignored. The Oilers are the last team standing from the WHA, after 39 years that should be applauded not swept under the rug.

So with that WHA rant out-of-the-way it’s time to look at the selection of Shawn Horcoff as the sixteenth captain of the Oilers. Horcoff was really the Oilers only choice here. Hemsky could have been considered, he was an alternate last season, but with a younger team I think a player like Horcoff, who has had to work his ass off for everything he’s ever gotten, is a better choice. I’ve heard some opinions that Horcoff shouldn’t have been named captain because of his contract. While I think everyone is entitled to their own opinion I think this opinion is insane. If Horcoff was making $4 million a season his contract would never have entered into the conversation. What a player makes has nothing to do with whether he can be a team leader. There is literally zero correlation between the two. Horcoff is a great choice to assume the role of Oilers captain and he joins a list that includes some great ex-Oilers and some not so great ones as well (Shayne Corson I’m looking in your direction).

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