EAST MEADOW — Bo Horvat admitted that he’s ready for the Islanders’ trip to Montreal for a Saturday clash against the Canadiens so he could just focus on hockey, but before he can do that, he has one more game of sentimentality to overcome.
First it was his Islanders debut on Monday night in Philadelphia, then it was his home debut at UBS Arena where he scored his first goal with the team, and now Thursday night at UBS Arena provides a matchup with the Vancouver Canucks — the team he spent nine years with after being drafted ninth overall in 2013, the team he captained for the last four years.
“I think it’s going to be weird,” Horvat said. “Obviously I’ve never played against Vancouver. Seeing the guys that you grew up playing with over the years and that jersey and you’re not wearing it, it’s definitely gonna be weird, I’m gonna be relieved when I get out there and the game starts going and the nerves — again, more nerves — are stopped.”
It’s been a week-and-a-half of non-stop nerves for the 27-year-old center. During his first day down in Florida for the All-Star Game — in which he participated — he discovered he was getting traded shortly after returning to his Airbnb from Disney World with his family.
From Western Canada to the east coast of the United States, Horvat has had to learn a new system, new terminology, and the tendencies of new teammates — all the while he signed an eight-year, $68 million extension to commit to the Islanders long-term. He even did a bit of house-hunting with his wife while exploring Long Island on his day off Wednesday.
“No, it feels like it was yesterday, to be honest with you,” Horvat said of his last overwhelming 10 days. “When you say 10 days, it doesn’t feel like it. I’ve only been on Long Island for three, four, five days… It doesn’t feel real yet but it’s starting to come around.”
From a strictly hockey side of things, Horvat is beginning to ease into his role with the Islanders, allowing him to assimilate that much more with his new team.
“The [first game] was just getting through the game,” he admitted. “I think learning the system a little bit and buying into my role and thinking the game a little bit more as opposed to just going and playing. So I’m going to continue to get more and more comfortable.”
The opportunities to get even more comfortable will increase drastically once big personal nights like these are out of the way.
“[I’m looking forward to when] everything’s kind of done and we can go and play hockey,” Horvat said. “There’s no more drama.”
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