The Vancouver Canucks trading Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders just before the 2023 NHL All-Star Game created an interesting quandary for the NHL.
The current format of the All-Star Game divides the players into teams by division but with Horvat no longer in the Western Conference, let alone the Pacific Division, that created an unbalanced All-Star roster. Would Horvat still be going to the All-Star Game? If so, would he represent the Pacific Division? And, if so, would he be wearing a Canucks jersey one last time?
These aren’t idle questions. John Scott was removed from the 2016 All-Star Game after winning a fan vote when he was traded from the Arizona Coyotes to the Montreal Canadiens and only public pressure forced the NHL to put him back in the game, where he still represented the Pacific Division. In the Skills Competition, when every other player wore their team’s jersey, Scott participated in a generic All-Star jersey with no patch indicating team affiliation.
When Sandis Ozolinsh was traded from the Florida Panthers to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks days before the 2003 NHL All-Star Game, he was told he would still be representing the Eastern Conference and would need to wear a Panthers jersey for the Skills Competition.
In protest, Ozolinsh sat out the Skills Competition entirely and, unlike every other player at the All-Star Game, did not have a team patch on the shoulder of his All-Star Jersey for the game itself. The NHL fined Ozolinsh for missing the Skills Competition.
So, there's precedent for Horvat either being booted from the All-Star Game entirely or potentially being required to participate in All-Star events in a Canucks jersey.
According to deputy commissioner of the NHL Bill Daly, Horvat will still be going to the All-Star Game but he might look a little out of place.
“[Horvat] will be representing the Pacific Division,” said Daly in an email. “All club identifiers and intellectual property will reflect his current affiliation with the NY Islanders.”
So, Horvat will be on the Pacific Division team but he’ll be wearing an Islanders jersey for the Skills Competition and will have a patch on his Pacific Division All-Star jersey indicating he’s an Islander.
That means he’ll be wearing an Islanders jersey at All-Star Weekend before ever playing a single game for the Islanders. It also means he'll be playing in the All-Star Game in his new number with the Islanders, 14, instead of his familiar number 53.
Since he’ll still be on the Pacific Division team, he’ll get to play one last time with Elias Pettersson and, depending on how the “tournament” plays out, could end up playing against his future Islanders teammates, Brock Nelson and Ilya Sorokin.
There will be a couple of Horvats still wearing Canucks gear at the All-Star Game, however. According to Sportsnet's Iain MacIntyre, Horvat and his wife, Holly, had custom All-Star Game jean jackets made for their two kids with the Canucks logo on them.
Horvat will have the whole family in Sunrise, FL, for the All-Star Game.
"The whole family is going, mom and dad and in-laws too and my kids," Horvat said. "So, we'll have a fun weekend."