It’s no secret that it’s been a very rough season for the Edmonton Oilers. After two seasons at last overall in the NHL, it looks like the once-proud franchise is headed for a third consecutive lottery pick. Luckily for fans of the team, they can keep a close eye on the perpetual rebuild process of the franchise in ways no fanbase has ever had the luxury of doing: for instance, the ‘Oil Change’ documentary series is in its second season, and the team can connect with its stars Taylor Hall and Jordan Eberle via social media.

While the frivolities of NHL life are chronicled one mundane tweet at a time by 99% of NHLers who use Twitter, the Oilers’ S. Horcov, a Soviet ex-pat who captains the team, has a very eye-opening feed which takes his followers behind the scenes. Horcov, under long-term employ of the Oilers, can be quite critical of management, although in his biography he states “in Russia if you tweet wrong, it is gulag for you. Here I am free man“.

The broken English of Horcov makes for very interesting pre- and post-game reading, with his range of tweets going from analysis to answering questions from fans. @SHorcov is a very funny and informative account (and his initial forays into social media were also very insightful as well), and if you are on Twitter, he is definitely worth the follow. Here at the Backhand Shelf, we were able to land an exclusive and un-filtered interview with the Oiler centreman to introduce him to those hockey fans not yet on Twitter who are seeking a deeper look at the Oiler captain.

THE BACKHAND SHELF - First off, let me congratulate you on having one of the most candid Twitter accounts of any athlete. What made you make the jump to the online world, and how has the reception been so far?

KOMRADE HORCOV – Thank you Komrade, is kind to say. I am liking the Tweetering very much. After years of having to keep mouth shut in Soviet Union for fear of reprisal from oppressive government is excellent to be able to express self openly. Is like starving man sitting down to enormous feast.

Or something like that.

Reception has been excellent from fans of Edmonton Oilers hockey club. They like inside look at life of professional hockey player. A few fans have said nasty things but then I remind them that I make more money in one year than they do in entire life lol. Capitalism is best system I think!

Can you provide us some insight in what it’s like growing up as a young hockey player in Soviet Russia?

Was not easy Komrade. Was good to be taken by state at early age, family was poor and was not easy to live on moldy bread and wormy potatoes. But of course missed family very much and training was very hard. Still Soviet system taught me excellent hockey skills.

You’ve been very critical of the direction of the Edmonton Oilers management on your feed. What in particular irks you about Steve Tambellini’s style of management?

Is fact we finish last every year. Even when we spend to cap. Is no way to run railroad Komrade.

Your feed also tends to get pretty explicit when describing your sex life with your wife Olga. Let me just comment that this isn’t something that many pro athletes feel comfortable about discussing publicly. Do you think that pre-game sexiness, as you call it, leads to better in-game performances?

lol Komrade well we Europeans are a lot more relax about sexiness than uptight North Americans. As for pregame sexiness yes is very relax for me to play after that. When I am on road I play more with edge without it but truth is I am thinking about it by second period and distraction is too much. Plus lets face it Komrade sexiness with beautiful hot wife is always good lol. After that feel like Tsar of world like guy in boat movie. Except don’t crash into iceberg and drown.

After a poor game in Toronto recently by your teammate Cam Barker, you described a pretty vivid sequence involving a few of your other teammates acting a little violently towards the young defenseman. What can you tell us about that incident?

Is before courts Komrade, cannot comment. Lol am kidding, was not premeditated, was situation that got out of hand. Were kidding around and then Petrell brought chainsaw out and Gilbert got rope and then things got mental. Luckily as always Smytty was voice of reason and talk everyone down. Is very difficulty to have teammate who is so terrible though. Against Toronto we play good game and he killed us, so we thought maybe we return favour.

Do murder plots make the dressing room a little more awkward?

No is like assaulting bunker in Chechnya, brings everyone closer together. Well, except for Barker of course. Hey Cam if you read this maybe play better and we stop with threats.

You seem to be very envious of Ales Hemsky’s situation. He is a free agent and can set his own fate, and may even be traded this season. What can you tell me about Hemsky as a teammate?

Ales is great teammate and good friend. Is tough guy, sacrifice self for team for years. Is always facing best on other team year after year, no complaining. Plus is good player. Is having off year but starting to get healthy. What more can I say? Body language is bad though, lots of shrugging. Also slouches.

Do you think the Oilers should re-sign Hemsky?

Does Pope wear funny hat Komrade? Does Russian bear take poop in forest? Is one off year. Is 28 years old. Is point per game player. Is team that pays millions to guys to play in minors. Is hard to win when keep dumping good players. Team is worse without him.

You seem to have a good team going. You talk about your exploits with Lennart Pettrell and Ben Eager. There was a great story about the team killing a boar for sustenance, and another of Pettrell kidnapping Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. Why would you change anything about the situation you’re in?

Is true Komrade, is true band of brothers. Don’t forget about Helsinki roadttrip Petrell and I took to see Janne and Tikkanen. Was mental crazy. And eating cheesy hamburger sandwiches with Smid. Is good times. Would change nothing. Except would be nice to make playoffs. Golf game is getting very good but has been too long.

Thanks again, Komrade

Is my pleasure Komrade.