Darcy Hordichuk will play this coming weekend for the Oklahoma City Barons. It’s the first time he’s laced ’em up for a minor league game since Bush tax “cuts” and SARS were in the headlines. And for Darcy, it will be a bit of a church social moment in his career. Where does his loyalty lie in the face of being demoted, possibly chastised? That’s a question that he himself has the answer to, and can only give a clear one by playing as well as he possibly can.
So that brings us to fitting this square peg into a round hole. Where does the “Chuk” fit into the current Barons lineup where he makes the team better while not causing too many speed bumps along the way. Let’s discuss.
To understand the situation a bit better, I think we could look at the February 2011 AHL placement of Zack Stortini. He was a player of the similar make up of Hordichuk. Nasty at times, loved by some, poo poo’d by even more, and ultimately understanding of his current state of play. He was disappointed, took it in stride, and actually made the Barons team better. “It’s been one of the harder things I’ve had to do in my career, but I’ve had tremendous support from the guys in the locker room there and my family and friends, and there are great people here that are supportive,” he told the Daily Oklahoman after his first week of play. A bruised ego can quickly be rebuilt, if not for one reason and one reason alone – respect.
Stortini, with his new outlook on life, was placed deep in the Oklahoma City lineup where he was labeled a grinder. His centerman was typically Ryan O’Marra or Chris VandeVelde, and his wingers were usually Matt Marquardt, Greg Stewart, etc. etc. The key for Zack was staying focused on the task. And in retrospect, he did it with grace, if that’s even possible.
I’d say that Hordichuck fits that same mold circa Barons 2013. He’ll play with a deep line perhaps centered by Tanner House or maybe a Ryan Martindale. Where the heavies go, will go Hordichuk. And his wingers will likely be from a group of three – Dane Byers, Curtis Hamilton, or Erick Lizon (Tyrvainen also a candidate when he recovers from an injured back situation). The most interesting of the three would be Lizon. That would be Hordichuk, House, Lizon in a mephitic line of pain. When those three hit the ice, you katy bar the door, hit your knees, and pray you don’t end up on the receiving end of a forecheck. But I’ll back it up just a bit. Maybe, just maybe, Nelson throws him into the third line with Curtis Hamilton and Dane Byers where he wants more grit than punishment. I’m down with that.
Ultimately, Hordichuk has some things to prove – both to himself and to the organization that has seemingly curtailed his playing time in the NHL. Tough goings for him, for sure. But can he make his style of play and “intangibles” valuable to someone? We’ll see.