In his nine-year NHL career, Bo Horvat has been to the Stanley Cup Playoffs just twice. He's currently looking for trip number three to the NHL postseason, this time with his new team, the New York Islanders.
Missing the playoffs for so many seasons with the Vancouver Canucks was frustrating for Horvat, who has a reputation dating back to junior of elevating his game in the playoffs.
“I want to win,” said Horvat after the 2020-21 season. “I'm getting tired of being out of the playoffs and not being able to fight for the Stanley Cup.”
The Islanders are not yet a sure bet to make the playoffs. They're currently in the second wild-card spot with 91 points, just one point ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins, though they do hold the tie breaker with more regulation and overtime wins. But the playoff push has still been a thrill for Horvat, who was too often well out of the playoffs by this time each season with the Canucks.
In Vancouver, Horvat was a "face" in wrestling terms. He was the good guy, the hero, the straight-laced captain who was easy to cheer for. On Saturday night, however, Horvat took an unexpected heel turn, becoming a villain to Vancouver with one short phrase.
When asked how this playoff push with the Islanders ranks with "the excitement of this building and the fans' involvement," Horvat had a mic-dropping moment.
"I mean, it's been unbelievable," said Horvat. "A lot better than Vancouver, I'll tell you that for free."
That's a stunner, but also an understandable one. Horvat took the brunt of the criticism from fans for years as the team's captain and, since he was traded, has seen fans further throw Horvat under the bus, suggesting that he was the problem in the Canucks' room. For a player that gave his heart and soul to the Canucks for years, that must have been galling to see and hear.
Also, Horvat knows which fans he needs to appeal to at this point and they're not in Vancouver. Or, as the Islanders' announcer put it, "He knows what his zip code's going to be for the next eight years."
As for Canucks fans, they can take solace in the fact that Horvat, who had 31 goals and 54 points in 49 games before the trade, has just 13 points in 27 games for the Islanders since the trade.