He may not have a letter on his chest, but there’s no debate - Bo Horvat is one of the leaders in the locker room for the NY Islanders.
Before being traded to the Islanders, Horvat spent three and a half seasons as the captain of the Vancouver Canucks, and one season prior as an alternate.
“I’m pretty sure I can put him in any situation, and something good is going to come out of it,” former Canucks Head Coach Bruce Boudreau told The Province shortly after his hiring. “As a person, he’s been so respectful and easy to approach. I ask him different things, and he gives me straight answers. And he’s really good with his teammates and brings my questions to them. His practice habits are great, which is what a coach wants. He’s a great captain.”
Coming over to a new locker room of players he’s unfamiliar with involves a bit of a learning curve. At first, Horvat needed to figure out the proper times to speak on a roster that has been together for years.
“It’s always going to take a little bit of time. You come in, you’re literally trying to get your own bearings,” Lane Lambert told The Athletic in February. “But what I’ve seen in the leadership part of it is in different situations, different things that go on on the ice, he engages with the other guys to talk. I think that’s probably the biggest thing right now, and it’s been very helpful.”
This season, his first full one with the Islanders, Horvat is among the team leaders in production. His seven points are good enough for second on the team behind Noah Dobson’s nine, and his four goals are tied for the team lead with Brock Nelson.
After the Isles blew a two-goal lead in the third period, allowing three quick goals from the Detroit Red Wings, Horvat nodded the game up at three, unleashing a one-timer from the bumper spot on an Islanders power play.
In the overtime period, Horvat mishandled a puck at his own blue line, sending the puck deeper into the Isles defensive zone. Some nifty passing between JT Compher and Lucas Raymond around a sprawling Dobson led to the game-winning goal - for which Horvat took full responsibility.
“That last one’s on me,” said Horvat. “It just blew up on me - couldn’t get a hold of it. That’s just too bad. He [Sorokin] had no chance on pretty much all those goals.”
Though he played an unfortunate part in the eventual game-winner, Horvat was far from the Islanders' biggest issues on the night. He was one of the Isles' top performers, finishing with a goal and an assist, and posting the highest CF% (Corsi for %) among all Islanders forwards. Yet, he was willing to put the burden of the loss on his shoulders while complimenting the play of Ilya Sorokin.
The consummate professional that Horvat is, a letter on his sweater doesn't define who he is. With a locker room as closely knit as the Islanders, Lou Lamoriello understood what kind of play to bring in when trading for Horvat, capable of bringing the room even closer.