Florida heat: Horachek rips Matthias, tells him to ‘get out of the victim role’


Just days after Shawn Matthias carved his former organization for not doing things “the right way,” his ex-head coach responded with a blast of his own.

“He’s a talented young player, he can skate, he has all the size and tools, but he gets in his own way,” Horachek said, per the Florida Sun-Sentinel. “He went through four coaches, so nobody’s picking on him and nobody’s trying to say he can’t play in a different role.

“But there’s accountability and the ability to get out of the victim role… and just say, ‘I’m going to do whatever is needed for me to play for the team, instead of playing for the name and number on my back.'”

Horachek was responding to comments Matthias made prior to Vancouver’s 4-3 shootout win in Florida on Sunday. Matthias, acquired from the Panthers are part of the Roberto Luongo trade, suggested he only got a chance as Florida’s No. 1 or 2 center minutes when someone was hurt — and when the injured parties came back healthy, he was relegated to a bottom-six role regardless of how well he’d played.

From the Sun-Sentinel:

“I was happy to be moved and happy for the new opportunity. It’s a different atmosphere [in Vancouver], a different culture. You play hard and you play. In Florida, too many guys were given things and it’s not the right way. Here, it’s you earn your ice time.

“I think it was obvious when guys were out [in Florida], how well I played. And when they came back, nothing really changed, it seemed like it never happened. I was upset for awhile here and wanted a fair shake and now I’m in a really good situation.’’

Since joining the Canucks, Matthias is averaging 18:04 per game — up from the 12:14 he was getting in Florida — and has scored one goal and two points in six contests.

Of course, Matthias’ opportunity for expanded minutes at center came after Ryan Kesler suffered a knee injury.

Oilers go captain-less, name four alternates instead

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Edmonton’s made a fairly significant shift in its leadership group.

The big news is the Oilers won’t have a captain this season, as Andrew Ference will relinquish the “C” he’s worn for the last two years.

Ference will, however, remain part of the group and wear an “A” as part of a four-man alternate captain collective, one that also includes Jordan Eberle, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall.

The news of Ference being removed as captain doesn’t come as a huge surprise. The veteran d-man is a well-respected leader, but isn’t expected to be in the lineup every night this season.

The decision to go without a captain, though, is something of a surprise, especially given what new head coach Todd McLellan endured during his final season in San Jose.

The Sharks’ captaincy issue — stripping Joe Thornton, then going with four rotating alternates — was an ongoing problem, something that players, coaches and GM Doug Wilson had to repeatedly address until it blew up in spectacular fashion.

That said, the circumstances in Edmonton are quite different.

It’s believed the club’s intentionally keeping the captaincy vacant, on the assumption that Connor McDavid will evolve into a superstar and, subsequently, the club’s unquestioned leader.

Finally, McLellan noted that with Eberle currently sidelined, a fifth Oiler would be added to the leadership group — veteran forward Matt Hendricks, who will serve as a temporary alternate.

Brandon Sutter didn’t have the greatest preseason

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When Brandon Sutter was acquired by the Vancouver Canucks, GM Jim Benning called the 26-year-old a “foundation piece for our group going forward.”

Sutter was quickly signed to a five-year extension worth almost $22 million, more evidence of how highly management thought of the player.

Fast forward to yesterday, when Benning was asked the following question:

“What does it say that you made the trade for Sutter, you called him a ‘foundation’ player, and it took him until the final night of the preseason to find a spot (with the Sedins) on the wing, which isn’t his natural position?”

Here was Benning’s response:

“Well, [head coach Willie Desjardins] wants to try that out, he thinks that’s going to be a good fit. At various times, the Sedins played with wingers with speed, with [Ryan Kesler], who could get in on the forecheck and had a good shot. Sutter brings some of those qualities, too.”

While all that may be true, Sutter was not signed to play the wing; he was brought in to play center, specifically on the second line. He finished the preseason with zero points in five games. And as mentioned, he’ll start the season on the wing, not his natural position.

Meanwhile, youngsters Bo Horvat, 20, and Jared McCann, 19, had outstanding camps and are expected to start the regular season (tonight in Calgary) centering the second and third lines, respectively.

Though Sutter did finish the preseason with 12 shots on goal, up there with the most on the Canucks, it’s fair to say he did not look like a “foundation” player.

“I haven’t seen him play his best,” Desjardins said last week. “I see a guy who’s big and a good skater and who understands the game real well, but just hasn’t got that involved.”

Now, we are only talking about the preseason here. New players often take time to get comfortable. Perhaps playing with the Sedins can provide Sutter with some confidence.

“I know he’ll be there and I totally believe that,” said Desjardins.

But it hasn’t been the best start, and if it wasn’t for the encouraging play of the youngsters, it would be a far bigger story in Vancouver.

Related: Canucks roll the dice on rookies, waive Vey and Corrado