Reports surfaced yesterday that the Edmonton Oilers have officially named their alternate captains for the 2013 season. While Jordan Eberle will be a full-time alternate captain to the Oilers’ current captain, Shawn Horcoff (at least until his contract is bought out this summer), Taylor Hall and Nick Schultz will tag team being the other alternate captain.
You have to like this move if you are an Oilers fan because it sets things up for the 2013-2014 season and beyond. Everyone in the organization is finally recognizing that they need to buy all-in on the youth movement. Horcoff, Ryan Smyth and other remaining members of the “old guard,” so to speak–even Ales Hemsky and Ryan Whitney, who were the Oilers’ alternates last season–need to move aside and let the future of this team lead them. Either Eberle or Hall will be the perfect captain for this team, and having both of them be alternates will help facilitate this transition.
Hemsky’s career has been filled with ups and downs. The contentious renegotiation talks that went on last season between the Oilers and Hemsky’s team, when added to his often sulky or disinterested mood on the ice last season, did not make him an appropriate alternate captain option, be it last year or for any year going forward, so this is a good move.
Whitney’s removal surprises me a bit more, as he is a heart-and-soul guy just like his replacement Schultz is. Does this move say more about what the Oilers feel Schultz brings to the team, or does it say more about Whitney’s days in Edmonton being numbered as he will be a free agent after this season and has been so inconsistent during his time in Edmonton because of his injury problems? Something to keep an eye on.
So now that the Oilers have gotten this much-needed announcement out of the way with, we will see how the team responds to the new leadership. Perhaps this will be an added spark for this young team, and these moves will instill greater confidence in the young guns that are champing at the bit to lead the Oilers to greatness once again.