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Welcome mat’s out for Canucks' Bo Horvat


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Great article by the Vancouver Sun on Horvat and the Canucks.

VANCOUVER - At age 19 and still a teenager, Vancouver Canucks rookie Bo Horvat is playing in the National Hockey League with men five, 10 and 15 years older than him.

His teammates have families, business interests, charitable commitments and all manner of things pulling them in various directions. When the arena lights are off, they’re busy people.

Back in Rodney, Ont., Cindy Horvat was worried about her oldest son. She wasn’t worried about his ability to play hockey. That was a given. He could play. She was worried about Bo being in a big city, three time zones away, fitting in socially, adjusting to life on his own.

He wasn’t a junior anymore. He had moved beyond billet families, having his meals cooked for him, having teenage teammates to hang with during those down times after practice and on off-days.

“Oh, definitely, I was worried,” says Cindy Horvat. “I mean, you’re always worried knowing that he wouldn’t be billeting in Vancouver like he was in junior. I wasn’t worried about his maturity because he’s been away from home, off and on, for quite a few years now. So I wasn’t worried that way. I was just more concerned with how he’d be eating, and the laundry, and all those sorts of things that he’s never had to do before.”

Once Horvat was told in November that he was staying up with the Canucks, he had a choice to make: Share with a roommate, live with an older teammate’s family, or find his own place. His mind was made up.

“We talked with his agent (Mark Guy) and with Bo and he had pretty much decided what he wanted to do,” says Cindy, who has been visiting Bo for the past week along with husband Tim and younger son Cal. “He wanted to get his own place and we totally supported him with that decision. His agent came out and helped him look at a few different condos and stuff and then Bo went out by himself as well. He chose to rent a two-bedroom place. It’s about a 10-minute walk from the rink, which is nice and convenient.”

Although Horvat appears confident on the ice, he admits he had some trepidation about living on his own. Would he be lonely? Homesick? Bored? At loose ends?

“I think, at the beginning, maybe I was a little worried about things like who am I going to hang out with, how am I going to kill my time, and stuff like that,” Horvat says. “Even though guys are married or have girlfriends, they still made me feel really welcome. They still invited me out to dinner, or invited me over to their house for dinner. Shawn Matthias even asked me if I wanted to live with him.

“But once I found out that I was going to stay, I kind of wanted to live on my own. I wanted to try it out. I wanted to have that alone time and that escape from the rink. I’m not afraid to do stuff by myself. I think it’s been kind of nice. Maybe I was a little bit worried at the beginning but, right now, I’m really comfortable with it.

“Pretty much every day I’ll talk and text with family back home,” he says. “My dad will ask about practice and if everything is going well and stuff like that. I keep in touch with my little brother and my girlfriend back home. So I have lots of people I can contact and talk to and I haven’t been too, too lonely.”Dan Hamhuis hasn’t forgotten what it was like for him. He was a kid from Smithers and played junior in Prince George. Then at age 20, he was thrust into Nashville, Tenn., a rookie with the Predators, miles from home and living in a different country.

“It’s just really tough being away for the first time,” says the 32-year-old Hamhuis. “I remember every dinner I ever had at a veteran’s house and that’s something that my family always tries to do now, not just with the young guys but with the single guys, too. It means a lot to them because I know it meant a lot to me when I was young. I think it’s important for building a close team.

“We’ve had Bo over. He is almost closer in age to my kids — my oldest is six — than he is to me. Bo is great. We care about each other in this room as teammates and that’s one thing you can do to help out.”

Matthias, too, understands what that adjustment can mean. He grew up in Mississauga, Ont., and played junior in Belleville, just a two-hour-plus drive away. He was 20 when he appeared in his first NHL game with the Florida Panthers.

“In junior, you go from the rink to your billet house and your dinner is cooked for you and then you go to a movie, or go bowling, or play video games with your teammates,” says the 27-year-old Matthias. “You’re always hanging out together. Now you get to this level and a lot of guys have families, or live with their girlfriends, and when they get time off, they spend time with them and stuff. So you get home from the rink and it’s one o’clock in the afternoon, and you have nothing to do.

“It can be pretty tough. I think Bo has done a good job of getting to know the guys and feeling comfortable with the guys and all the guys like having him around,” Matthias adds. “But, yeah, that time away from the rink, you can get pretty lonely at times, especially for a kid who is 19 years old.”

According to Canucks head coach Willie Desjardins, the team wasn’t overly concerned about Horvat living alone, mainly because of the veteran core.

“I feel a lot more comfortable just because of our veterans in the room,” explains Desjardins. “I trust them. They have a pretty good idea of what’s going on. There are lots of different choices out there for a 19-year but, no, I wasn’t concerned about Bo fitting in socially.”

Neither was GM Jim Benning. He broke into the NHL in 1981 as an 18-year-old defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was truly on his own back then. Times have changed, Benning notes. The Canucks have a chef prepare breakfast, lunch and pre-game meals at the rink, so nutrition isn’t an issue. There are always younger teammates nearby, especially those on call-ups, who can provide company for Horvat if need be.

“With Bo, he is a mature young man and beyond his years,” Benning said. “We have no problems with him living on his own. He felt like he wanted to get his own place and live on his own and we were fine with that. Bo has made an easy transition. It’s different now than it was 34 years ago when I turned pro.”Cindy had another concern when she arrived in Vancouver last week. She found Bo hadn’t visited a grocery store lately. The cupboards in his Yaletown apartment were bare. So, like any mother would, she went shopping.

“My mom couldn’t believe that my fridge was, like, literally empty,” says a sheepish Horvat. “But we were on the road so much lately and I really hadn’t done much grocery shopping. She’s been taking care of that since she got here. She’s planning on cooking me some meals, freezing them up and leaving them for me, which is nice.”

Cindy confirmed that is indeed the case.

“That’s what I plan on doing,” says Cindy. “Bo will be well supplied.”

Once a mom, always a mom. Even in the NHL.

Do you know Bo?

Five facts about Bo Horvat

1: Named after athlete Bo Jackson (dad liked the athlete) and rock star David Bowie (mom liked the rock star). Official name is Bowie but obviously goes by Bo.

2: Was drafted ninth overall by the London Knights in the Ontario Hockey League’s priority draft in 2011 and then ninth overall by the Canucks in the NHL entry draft in 2013.

3: Wears No. 53 in honour of goalie Ian Jenkins, who was drafted into the OHL by the London Knights the same year as Bo but died days later in a truck accident. Jenkins wore 35, so Bo flipped the numbers around.

4: In his three years playing junior for the London Knights, Horvat appeared in three straight Memorial Cups. The Knights were OHL champions in 2011-12 and 2012-13 as well as host team last season.

5: Scored the Game 7 game-winning goal in the 2013 OHL championship series with 0.1 seconds left in the third period against the Barrie Colts and was named playoff MVP.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/sports/hockey/vancouver-canucks/Welcome+Canucks+Horvat/10891932/story.html#ixzz3UXEiMCvv

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mature beyond his years.. exactly. i said it when he was drafted that he would be a core player for us. it's the intangibles that will make him an amazing asset for us, in my opinion, for his entire career. our next captain. i'll never forget that last second winner in game 7, what a great moment

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I bet Bo sheds chel 15 daily. GM mode and just dishes all the vets for first round picks, builds a dynasty and leads his team to the cup every year winning the hart, art ross, conn smythe, selke. Just living the dream in his apartment by himself. BEAUTY

Obviously edits himself because the dam game doesn't give him enough credit.

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