SUN Hockey Pool

Horcoff is redeeming himself

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:45 PM ET

EDMONTON - OK, whos that wearing the Shawn Horcoff mask?

Are we supposed to believe that the same guy who managed one single point a second assist in a 4-2 loss in the 16 games before Valentines Day has turned on the faucet just like that?

Granted, its a lot easier to play when the pressure is off, but 16 points in 20 games? Who are you and what have you done with the poster boy for 30th?

Im starting to play hockey the way I know I can, said Horcoff, who was starting to wonder if he needed hand-transplant surgery in the summer. The first half of the season was obviously pretty dreadful and tough, not the way I wanted it go. It makes for a little easier summer knowing that things are going back to the way you know you can play.

This in no way takes the ache away from a season gone horribly wrong. Thirty six points from a $7 million centre is a train wreck no matter how you slice it.

It doesnt change my disappointment, said Horcoff. I was looking forward to having a good year coming in. That didnt happen and its obviously frustrating.

Frustrating to the point that his confidence was taking a worse beating than his minus total.

I pride myself on being a mentally strong player, but when you go through the season that I did, certain stretches, you lose faith a little bit and it becomes tough.

Im not going to make any excuses for it, it happened. Obviously its disappointing, Ill have to change things in the summer to get back to my old form.

At a $5.5 million cap hit until 2015, hes about the only player on the team guaranteed to be back next year, so its important that he rediscovers the form that convinced Daryl Katz to give him that deal in the first place.

Ive proved in the past and its not just one season, but a couple of seasons, that I can be close to a point per game guy and I think I can get back to that level, he said, adding that while hes looked very comfortable and productive on the third line with Ethan Moreau and Fernando Pisani, he still sees himself in the top six.

I see myself more as an offensive guy. The more offensive minded players you play with the more youre going to be able to produce, but having said that Ive had good chemistry with Chop and Pise. Whatever role (they give you) is what youre going to take.

Associate coach Tom Renney says they dont expect him to be Henrik Sedin, just Shawn Horcoff at his best, which is plenty good enough.

Horc can be one of the better two-way centres in the league, and with that comes points, said Renney. But you have to make sure we recognize and keep in perspective that on a young team, which this is inevitably going to be, he cant place a heavy burden on himself to be a 90-point guy.

What he has to do is lead by example and show them what that two-way game looks like. We need to use him as a reference point as we teach people how to play this game properly, because Horc does.

ROBERT.TYCHKOWSKI@SUNMEDIA.CA


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