The Vancouver Canucks were back in town on Wednesday at the Jake Milford Charity Golf Tournament. While players kicked off the season with a relaxing game of golf, they were also greeted by something they love even more: the media.
Of course, Bo Horvat was front and centre as he was asked about the departure of the Sedins and the impending captaincy. With Henrik Sedin no longer at the helm, the Canucks will have a different captain (or no captain at all) this season for the first time since 2010.
“It’s definitely going to be different,” Horvat said to the scrum of reporters. “I came back to the rink yesterday and it’s like they never left. Then you take a step back and realize that they aren’t going to be here the entire year. We’re going to miss them a lot. They were a huge part of the organization, huge part of the city and they did great things for both. At the same time we’ve got a lot of young talent, a lot of great young prospects and it’s their time to prove that they can be everyday NHL players.”
Now that the organizations all-time leader in points has retired, it’s no secret that Horvat is the obvious leader to take over the reigns.
“For sure, anytime you’re in the conversation, it’s humbling to hear,” said Horvat. “I obviously have a great deal of respect for Hank and Danny. If that opportunity comes I would embrace it and be the best leader I could, but at the same time we have ten guys you could give the ‘C’ to in that room. We got a great bunch of veteran players who have been around the league. They’re great leaders, great role models in the dressing room and in the community. No matter what happens, we’re going to be in it together.”
It’s music to no one’s ears that ‘ten veteran players deserve to be captain,’ but you can’t fault Horvat for his modesty. That being said, Jim Benning and Travis Green were showing no signs of rushing to name a captain before the start of the season.
"We’re going to see the group and see who steps up. We don’t necessarily need to name a captain this year, if that’s what’s best for our team. We’ve got good leadership in the room; if we decide to go without a captain, I’m confident in that decision." - GM Benning #CanucksCamp— Vancouver Canucks (@Canucks) September 13, 2018
“I think it is important but at the same time its not everything to have a captain,” Horvat said. “There are different guys who do different things in the room, but i think it is important for somebody to take the reigns and be the guy that guys look up to, that young guys can relate to. It’s definitely is important but its tough right now. Hank and Danny did it for eight years. It’s tough to throw the ‘C’ on anyone and I think its going to take a bit of time to see who it’s going to be.”
It sounds like the toughest part for Horvat, if he were to be named captain, is facing the media every night after a loss. That’s something he said he really admired the twins for doing throughout his time in Vancouver.
“Win or loss, they’re always ready to talk and face the music. I respect them for that, some games you play so bad and things go so bad, where you just wanna walk out and go home, They just stick around and talk about it on a night to night, game to game basis.”
“The last thing you do after a loss is go and talk about it, but at the same time for them to do that, and me as a young guys seeing that, you think ‘wow,’ its all part of it and you gain a huge bunch of respect for that.”
Speaking of losses, most predict that the Canucks will see an abundance of them this year. The outside criticism of the organization and the team isn’t something Horvat is oblivious to, but he’s carrying a positive mindset with him into the season.
“We know what people are saying, we know where were at, but at the same time our main goal is to win hockey games,” he said. “We want to win to make the playoffs. There’s a bunch of teams who proved people wrong last year. Colorado and New Jesery had breakout years. It’s just putting the right pieces to the puzzle together, guys buying into the coaching staffs systems and coming together as a team. If we do that, we should be fine.”
“I’m sick of losing and I want to be in playoff contention, as I’m sure the entire team does.”
After an offseason of training, Horvat looks motivated to do his best to drag this team out of the NHL’s basement. He says he spent the offseason working on getting quicker and finishing around the net. Horvat also mentioned that he’s down to about “214 or 215 pounds,” shedding almost ten pounds off his frame compared to the beginning or last season.
If he stays healthy, he’s primed for a career year in his fifth NHL campaign.
“You try not to think about that stuff too much, but at the same time its always at the back of your mind,” Horvat told Nucks Misconduct. “You want to be better than last year, you want to keep growing as a player but I think I’m my biggest critic. I’m harder on myself because you want to get more points, more goals and more wins as a hockey team.
Here’s what Horvat said when Nucks Misconduct asked him who he looks forward to playing with next season.
“I really like playing with Sven, he said. “We had some great chemistry last year with Brock, so I’d look forward to playing with him again.
You’d predict that Horvat would welcome the opportunity to re-kindle chemistry with Sven Baertschi and Boeser. However his next answer was a little more surprising.
“Loui is another guy I’d look forward to playing with. He’s a smart hockey player and good at both ends of the ice, so we’ll see what happens at training camp.”
Horvat’s most common linemates last year were Boeser and Baertschi. He played more tan 400 minutes at even-strength with each player. After that his most common linemates were 3) Nikolay Goldobin 4) Brendan Leipsic 5) Jake Virtanen 6) Sam Gagner 7) Thomas Vanek 8) Jussi Jokinen and finally at ninth, Loui Eriksson.
That’s right, Jussi Jokinen played more last year with Horvat than Eriksson.
Eriksson, as you probably don’t remember, started in place of Boeser on right-wing with Baertschi and Horvat to start the season. After Boeser entered the lineup, Horvat and Eriksson hardly had a sniff together at 5-on-5.
Still, there’s an argument to be made that you could get the most out of Eriksson by putting him with offensive players like Horvat or Boeser. The King of Garbage goals could capitalize on burying the rebounds that Boeser leaves for him.
There are some rookies and prospects vying for ice time with the Canucks this season as well, and Horvat is looking forward to playing alongside them at camp.
“There’s so much young talent on this team and it’s pretty exciting. Obviously a lot of guys have their eyes on Pettersson and I’m excited to see what we can do at camp. A lot of the other guys like Dahlen look really good too.”
When asked about the possibility of playing with Pettersson on the power play, Horvat couldn’t help but crack a smile.
“Yeah, getting some power play time with Pettersson next year would be awesome, you can see that he’s so dangerous with the puck so it should be interesting to see what he can do for us at the next level.”