It was nearly 13 years ago when a wide-eyed rookie for the Edmonton Oilers skated in front of the net at Reunion Arena and blasted a shot past Dallas’ Eddie Belfour for his first career NHL goal.
That rookie was Shawn Horcoff. And the skate is now on the other foot.
After spending his entire career with Edmonton, where he was a captain for the last three seasons, Horcoff is a Dallas Star.
“In hockey, 13 years in any organization is a lifetime,” the University Park resident said. “I had good times there, but my family and I felt like it was time for a change and a fresh start. In Dallas, we couldn’t have asked for a better situation. There are other new guys coming in, too. There’s a lot of changed faces on this team with players, coaches, and management. They’re really trying to change some things around. I’m looking forward to being a part of it.”
A 6-1, 210-pound center, Horcoff has already made an impact on his new club in different ways. He has a goal and a pair of assists as the Stars (5-6-1) find their footing with so many new players. Horcoff was dealt to the Stars for Philip Larsen and a seventh-round pick in 2016 during the off-season.
“You can tell he’s captained a team,” Stars defenseman Alex Goligoski said. “He’s a good guy. Everyone seems to like him. The way he works and what he does on the ice speaks for itself. He’s been awesome. He’s very easy to get along with. He’s a talker; he could talk to a wall.”
New Stars head coach Lindy Ruff is also thrilled to have a player as versatile as Horcoff in his arsenal.
“In his case, he can play a couple of positions and play in any situation,” Ruff said. “He can kill penalties for us. He can play net front on the power play. We’ve got a guy who’s really great in the dressing room. Before he’s a hockey player, he’s a hell of a person. He’s a great guy to have around.”
Horcoff, who played for Michigan State and is a Detroit Lions fan, has put up some gaudy numbers in his career. In 2005-06, he had 73 points (22 goals, 51 assists) as part of four consecutive seasons with 50-plus points. The Trail, British Columbia, native said he’s been thrilled with how easy it has been to play for a new team and the Texas weather.
“My family and I enjoy the heat,” Horcoff said. “When we got down here in July for the press conference, it was 105 or 107. We’re fine with that. It’s been an easy transition. The organization has done an excellent job of making it seamless for us. I knew some of the guys here before. It’s just a good group of guys.”
Horcoff, who grew up on a farm a little north of Spokane, Wash., is also elated with his decision to move to University Park with his wife, Cindy, and their, kids Jade, 8, and William, 6.
“We really like it,” Horcoff said. “Obviously, coming down to a new place our first time, there are some nerves — especially when you have a couple of kids. It’s gone as smoothly as I could have possibly hoped for. My kids are going to school there. The area, when we were looking around after we first got traded, was recommended to us because of how good the schools are. We’re finding out real soon that holds true. They’ve welcomed them, and my kids feel very comfortable at the school. As a parent, that’s one of the most important things to have.”