Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Oilers handover leadership roles to Eberle, Hall & Schultz for 2013
With head coach Ralph Krueger hinting on Monday afternoon that a possible change would be coming to the Edmonton Oilers leadership group sometime before Sunday's season opener in Vancouver, many fans were wondering if the time had come for captain Shawn Horcoff to be replaced as the club's captain.
Thankfully, the veteran centre will continue to wear the "C" on his jersey for the coming season but he will have some new recruits to share the load with. Krueger made the change official on Tuesday afternoon, announcing Jordan Eberle as the team's new full-time assistant captain, along with Taylor Hall and Nick Schultz sharing the Oilers second "A" on a game by game basis.
The organization's decision to go in a different direction, means Ales Hemsky and Ryan Whitney will no longer be wearing a letter on their sweater in 2013, nor will former alternate captain Ryan Smyth. While the moves were likely not easy for such seasoned veterans to accept, this is an organization that is in transition...both on the ice and in the dressing room.
The fact Eberle and Hall were handed a bigger responsibility on the leadership side of the equation, should really come as no surprise. It might surprise some that both received the honour of wearing a letter on their shoulder this season, the pair will undoubtedly lead this club for years to come.
As far as Schultz goes, the veteran blueliner was held in very high regard by all within the Minnesota Wild organization and more importantly, the dressing room's four walls. The collective group were absolutely devastated to see one of their "glue guys" moved during last season's trade deadline and he will go a long way in helping Edmonton give their leadership group a much needed face lift.
It was a bold move for the Oilers new bench boss to make but one he is counting on having a positive effect. The likes of Hemsky, Smyth and Whitney will still be counted on to be leaders within the room and look for defenceman Ladislav Smid to take on a bigger leadership role, as he enters his seventh NHL season.
They may not always say it publicly but make no mistake, this organization fully expects this group to take a major step forward in 2013. With that being the case, there was really no better time than the present, for the club to start making a transition within their leadership group. The time has come to start the next chapter of this story.