Hor­vat ready to wear the C for the Canucks

The Prince George Citizen - - Sports -

Bo Hor­vat is ready and will­ing to be the next cap­tain of the Van­cou­ver Canucks.

He’s just wait­ing for the tap on the shoulder.

The team left the role va­cant last sea­son fol­low­ing the retirement of Hen­rik Sedin and his twin brother Daniel, but Hor­vat said Thurs­day he’d be will­ing to take on the hefty re­spon­si­bil­ity in a ra­zor-fo­cused Cana­dian hockey mar­ket.

“It’d be an unbelievab­le honour to wear the ‘C’ – to wear any let­ter for that mat­ter,” the 24-year-old cen­tre said at the NHL/NHLPA North Amer­i­can Player Me­dia Tour.

“Even to be in con­sid­er­a­tion is def­i­nitely hum­bling. But it wouldn’t change who I am and it wouldn’t change the type of player I want to be. I wouldn’t let it af­fect me that way, but I’d just try to be the best leader I can be.”

Hor­vat cer­tainly had some good teach­ers.

He sat a cou­ple stalls away from the Sedins in Van­cou­ver’s locker room from the time he made the league at age 19 un­til the Swedish su­per­stars waved good­bye in April 2018.

There were lean years, but the superstar Swedes were al­ways there to face re­porters.

“Their last three years, it def­i­nitely wasn’t easy stand­ing in front of the me­dia and tak­ing the heat, and talk­ing ev­ery sin­gle day,” Hor­vat said. “Just watch­ing it, you were like, ‘How did these guys do it?’ I kind of had that re­spon­si­bil­ity last year, so I got a lit­tle bit of practice.

“I’d be ready to make that next step.”

Van­cou­ver is far from the only NHL team with­out a cap­tain – the Toronto Maple Leafs, Vegas Golden Knights, Ot­tawa Senators and Detroit Red Wings are among the other seven with­out one – but Hor­vat said it’s im­por­tant in the long run to have one voice.

“It is nice to have a guy to lean on and a guy to go to when times are tough and have some­body to set the tone,” he said. “But at the same time there’s no rush for our team or any team to name one right away. It’s ob­vi­ously up to the (gen­eral man­ager) and the coach­ing staff to de­cide who they think is the best fit.

“We have a lot of great guys in our room.”

The Canucks have missed the play­offs the last four seasons, but made a num­ber of off-sea­son ac­qui­si­tions in hopes of chal­leng­ing for a spot in the West­ern Con­fer­ence in 2019-20.

Van­cou­ver dove into free agency by sign­ing defencemen Tyler My­ers and Jordie Benn, as well as winger Micheal Fer­land, while for­ward J.T. Miller was ac­quired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Light­ning.

“I re­ally like our ad­di­tions,” Hor­vat said. “I def­i­nitely think they’re go­ing to help us make the next step.”

An­other key would be get­ting re­stricted free agent Brock Boeser in town for train­ing camp, but the star winger con­tin­ues to ne­go­ti­ate a new con­tract with the team.

Hor­vat knows what the uncer­tainty can be like af­ter wait­ing un­til Sept. 8, 2017, to sign a six-year, US$33-mil­lion ex­ten­sion with Van­cou­ver com­ing out of his en­try-level deal.

“I’ve been talk­ing to (Boeser) a lit­tle bit, just ask­ing how things are go­ing,” Hor­vat said. “I’ve been through it. It’s not easy, es­pe­cially this late in the sum­mer.

“We’d love to have Brock for camp and love to have him to start the sea­son, be­cause he’s such a huge part of our team. Hope­fully they can get a deal done.”

One player Hor­vat and his team­mates will be count­ing on from Day 1 is Elias Pet­ters­son – the slick Swede that took the NHL by storm early last sea­son on the way to cap­tur­ing the Calder Tro­phy as rookie of the year.

“I don’t think he has a ceil­ing,” Hor­vat said. “He hasn’t com­pletely filled out in his body yet – and he’s al­ready do­ing what he’s do­ing right now.”

Hor­vat – who put up ca­reer­highs in goals (27), as­sists (34) and points (61) in a break­out sea­son of his own – said it was hard to tell how good Pet­ters­son was un­til he recorded a goal and an as­sist in his very first game, and didn’t look back.

“You’re just like, ‘Wow, this kid’s a player,”’ he said. “He con­tin­ued to keep do­ing it game af­ter game af­ter game. It’s not easy. As a young guy, maybe you have a cou­ple good nights here and there, but he just seemed to keep do­ing it night in and night out.

“He’s a spe­cial player. We’re lucky to have him. He’s just go­ing to keep get­ting bet­ter as he gets older and gets more ex­pe­ri­ence and bigger and stronger. “So... look out.”

•••

The Van­cou­ver Canucks have re-signed right winger Niko­lay Goldobin to a one-year con­tract.

The team an­nounced the deal on Wed­nes­day, say­ing the re­stricted free agent had agreed to a one-way deal worth US$900,000.

Goldobin put up seven goals and 20 as­sists in 63 games for the Canucks last sea­son, his third in Van­cou­ver.

He was also a healthy scratch for sev­eral games as coach Travis Green chal­lenged him to work more dili­gently on var­i­ous as­pects of his play.

Canucks gen­eral man­ager Jim Ben­ning said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day that Goldobin has “taken steps to round out his game.”

“Niko­lay is a gifted of­fen­sive player who has shown good chem­istry with some of our other younger play­ers,” Ben­ning said. “We’re ex­cited to see con­tin­ued im­prove­ment from him this sea­son.”

The 23-year-old na­tive of Moscow was orig­i­nally taken 27th over­all by the San Jose Sharks in the 2014 NHL en­try draft.

The Van­cou­ver Canucks are set to be­gin train­ing camp in Vic­to­ria on Sept. 13.

CP FILE PHOTO

Van­cou­ver Canucks’ Bo Hor­vat walks onto the ice be­fore an NHL hockey game against the San Jose Sharks in Van­cou­ver on April 2.

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