The new-look Vancouver Canucks are off to a tremendous start to their 50th season, and it’s thanks to the new captain, who’s doing all the little things right.
The Vancouver Canucks went well over a calendar year without a team captain, and for good reason. The letter worn over the heart of leaders means a great amount in the Canadian market, and Canucks management was keen on finding the right fit.
Heading into the big five-o season, fans knew it was only a matter of time until Bo Horvat would be passed the torch from Canuck legend Henrik Sedin. It was the night of Oct. 9, the team’s home opener, when the franchise officially announced Horvat as the team’s new leader. He was warmly greeted at center ice by Henrik and Orland Kurtenbach to make it legit. This was followed by an outburst of pure happiness and acceptance from the fans.
With a “C” stitched to his sweater, Horvat has helped his team rise from on 0-2 start to a now 6-3-0 record, winning six of the last seven games. That’s good enough to place them third in the Pacific Division.
One thing is for certain though, the Canucks and the team around Bo are “buying in” on this squad, and clearly the captain is doing some little things right. Here’s a few takes of my own from what I’ve noticed through his first seven games as captain.
Winning at home
It was quite clear throughout the offseason that Horvat would be named the captain. But it wasn’t until he was actually wearing the “C” on his jersey that Horvat was able to start rallying this team into the next phase towards a Stanley Cup championship.
Opening night was electric, and you could really feel the energy and excitement at Rogers Arena. The entire Canucks nation stood tall behind their new leader as Horvat led his squad to a dominating 8-2 thrashing of the Los Angeles Kings.
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Horvat couldn’t have asked for a better outcome in his first official game as captain. The 24-year-old expressed how joyful he was following the win in his first game as captain.
Horvat and the new look Canucks went on to defeat the Philadelphia Flyers and the Detroit Red Wings to close out a three-game homestand all while walking away with a winning record. Talk about an amazing turn out for the new captain. It couldn’t have worked out any better.
Scoring on the road
With three games under his belt as the official captain of the Canucks, Horvat and company hit the jet and set off on a four game road trip, starting with a battle against the defending Stanley Cup champion St. Louis Blues.
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As a fan of the Canucks, I know I personally was riding high on my emotions after a perfect three game homestand where the team outscored their opponents 17-5.
Horvat played possibly one of his best games thus far this season against the Blues where he managed to score a goal (his first of the season) and help his team overcome a 3-1 deficit, as the team pulled off a 4-3 shootout victory.
Fast forward two games and Horvat pots another goal in a tight game against the Rangers to help his team win another road game. After that, the Canucks played the Red Wings, and they trailed 2-0 after 40 minutes.
Horvat must have said something right during that second intermission to get his team in gear. The Canucks entered the third period with a different energy and Horvat single handedly tied the game up with two goals of his own en route to a 5-2 victory. Horvat capped off the hat trick by adding an insurance goal in the empty net.
Now that’s what a real captain does. He digs his team out of trouble, and he comes through with the big goals on the road. Just like that, Horvat leads the team in goals with five. He simply did everything you want in a captain during that road trip.
Sticking up for the little guy
When you think of the Canucks captains throughout recent years, a tough-guy first mentality type leader hasn’t exactly been there for the franchise. Henrik ledd the team with his on-ice performances statistically and had tremendous leadership skills outside of the rink.
Roberto Luongo served as captain for two years before Henrik, but you obviously knew that you weren’t going to get a fighter out of him. The captain before him was Markus Naslund, another skilled Swede who lacked the attributes of a feisty captain like Jarome Iginla or Shea Weber.
Horvat is the type of captain that will drop the gloves when he needs to. We haven’t exactly seen that from him yet this season, but in a game against the Devils we witnessed him step between star-studded rookie defender Quinn Hughes and his opponent who was giving him a hard time.
As a fan, that was a very bright moment for this team and something this team really needs. Seeing that put a smile on my face, and it provided some extra comfort in knowing why they selected Horvat to be the captain of this team.
With Bo leading the Canucks now, I’m confident that this team and the fanbase will get behind him, and they’ll hopefully help No. 53 lead this team to its first championship. Only time will tell. But one thing is for certain: Bo Horvat is the right choice as the captain of the Vancouver Canucks.