As the day Bo Horvat made his long-awaited return to Vancouver approached, the big question was how would Canucks fans at Rogers Arena respond to him.
Early in the first period, Horvat got his answer as he was booed as soon as he touched the puck for the first time.
Horvat spent the first nine years of his NHL career with the Canucks and was named their captain in 2019. But when it became clear the Canucks weren’t interested in signing him to a contract extension prior to him becoming a free agent last year, the relationship between the two parties soured.
On January 30, the Canucks traded Horvat to the Islanders, where he immediately signed an eight-year contract extension before he ever donned a blue and orange jersey.
“It’s been unbelievable here,” Horvat said in April. “It’s a lot better than Vancouver. I’ll tell you that for free.”
Horvat clarified those comments were not aimed at Vancouver fans but rather than the franchise itself. Nevertheless, the Canucks’ faithful clearly took it to heart.
When Horvat was kicked out of the face-off circle, it was met with a resounding cheer.
However, Canucks fans did show some class when it came time for a video tribute honoring Horvat during a TV timeout, giving him a standing ovation and bringing a tear to his eye.
Bo Horvat gets emotional watching his tribute video in his first visit back to Vancouver since being traded. pic.twitter.com/bHZ2qjiL38
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) November 16, 2023
But, of course, there’s still hockey to be played, as Horvat reminded the Canucks of what they’re missing by scoring a goal to push the Islanders’ lead to 3-1 in the second period.
In their first full season without Horvat, the Canucks are off to a strong start with an 11-3-1 record powered by the NHL’s top offense. Meanwhile, Horvat’s Islanders are in the midst of a five-game losing skid.
Since joining the Islanders, he has 27 points with 12 goals, including five this season.
Despite Horvat’s tally, plus two more on the power play from Pierre Engvall and Brock Nelson, the Islanders lost to the Canucks 4-3 in overtime. Quinn Hughes sniped the game-winning goal for Vancouver at 2:36 in OT to extend the Islanders’ losing streak to an even six games.
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