Since joining the NY Islanders from the Vancouver Canucks in a blockbuster deal that got the pre-deadline trade frenzy started, Bo Horvat's time with the Isles has been short. While the Isles haven't brought in a big name since free agency began, Horvat, who was set to be the NHL's top free agent this summer, can be considered the organization's big off-season move.
Struggling to bring in big names, it seems as if once players get accustomed to Long Island, they and their families fall in love with the area. Earlier this week, Horvat met with Aaron Korolnek and Carlo Colaiacovo of TSN1050's First Up at the Smilzone Foundation charity golf tournament in Brampton, Ontario, and discussed Horvat's transition from Vancouver to Long Island.
"I knew anything could happen at that point when things weren't going well with Vancouver, and the talks weren't continuing at all," said Horvat. "When I got traded to the Island, I saw the facilities, the people, the organization, and everyone spoke so highly of it. When they offered me that contract, it was kind of a no-brainer, and thankfully we couldn't be more happy to be there."
Horvat signed an 8-year extension with the Islanders before appearing in a single game. It's been a bit different for the former Canucks captain, as the spotlight doesn't shine as bright on Long Island as in hockey-crazed British Columbia.
"It's a bit less magnetized [on Long Island]," said Horvat. "In Vancouver, there's only the BC Lions and Vancouver Whitecaps as the only major sports teams that everyone kind of rallies around and supports majorly, and you get zeroed in on where all the writeups are about the Canucks."
One of the first things new Islanders have to become accustomed to is the specific rules under Lou Lamoriello, most notably the need always to be clean-shaven.
"Guys don't stretch it very far - they don't test the waters," said Horvat. "I was traded during All-Star weekend and I met Brock Nelson there. I had a little scruff, so I asked, 'Is this good or is this frowned upon?' and he said, 'Yeah, you're going to have to shave."
Difficult to go unnoticed is the passion the Islanders fans bring to UBS Arena every night. Playing in front of a packed house every night is something Horvat is used to and typically brings the best out in every player.
"Those Long Island fans are passionate," said Horvat. "They chant through the game, and if you're not playing well, you hear about it. It's nothing new coming from a Canadian market but, like that intensity. You want to be in a market where they care about the game and the team, and that's where I'm at right now."
Horvat's 8-year deal begins at the start of the 2023-24 season. After putting up incredible numbers in the first half of the season, the well dried up a bit for Horvat following the trade. He'll look to return to the torrid pace he began last season, now more familiar with his new surroundings and teammates.