Train of Thought: Remembering Bo Horvat – The Canuck

By: Brayden Fengler and Trent Leith / February 3, 2023  

Bo There He Goes

Joni Mitchel, and later The Counting Crows famously said “Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone“. That seems to be the case with the 14th captain of the Canucks. Patrick Allvin and Jim Rutherford made their first major trade of their new re-tool with the trade of Canuck veteran and pending UFA Bo Horvat.

The trade has been broken down, analyzed and criticized ten ways to Sunday, but what of his legacy as a Canuck? What of the vacancy he leaves off the ice? What of the heartbreak long-time fans feel? Even if this was a move to build toward the future, it doesn’t hurt less today.

We asked several Canucks fans if they could share some thoughts on Horvat, whether that was some analysis on his trade, a story from on or off the ice, or just an observation about Bo in general. What we got back was rather striking.

One thing that was unique about Bo, is it didn’t take long for most who witnessed his game and how he carried himself to realize that this kid was special. Not only did he have potential on the ice, but his leadership capabilities were evident from day one.

Brendan Kobliuk @jabo_vancouver:

“I can remember the day the trade went down at the draft in 2013. This fan base was not happy, shockingly *sarcasm*. Mike Gillis predicted, after drafting Bo, that they had just drafted the future captain. That’s what made the moment he was named captain all the more gratifying.”

“It’s a sad day seeing him get traded, but I find it funny hearing some refer to the return for him as underwhelming. As if anyone has any idea where this ends. Much like the trade that brought Horvat here, the trade that sees him leave will be fully judged years, not minutes after completion.”

For some, the memory of Bo’s time as a Canuck can best be summed up not exclusively by what he did for this team, but by how what he did on the ice impacted those who played for the teams he faced.

kwïn hüz /blm/ @riotsurvivor

“I think Horvat should be most fondly remembered for going “Kesler-against-Nashville” level beast mode in the bubble playoffs and destroying Jordan Binnington’s entire life in six games.”

Dan Machholz @DanMachholz

“I don’t have a lot to add on Bo with his time here, other than the bubble performance (which was great) I feel his time here will always be attached to one of the darkest periods in team history. I hope he has nothing but success as he reads like a great guy but he’s not an “all-time Canucks” IMO”

Yes, Bo’s bubble performance was something else, and it’s hard to reminisce on his most memorable Canuck moments without focusing in on such a dominant time in his career. However, at the end of the day, that bubble performance is really just icing on the cake in terms of what the former Canucks captain meant to this city.

Pete Edwards @pete_gas

“The first thing I see when I enter my apartment is Bo Horvat. I have a framed autographed picture of him right by my front door, followed by one of the Sedins and then Captain Kirk. Maybe it’s a reminder of a tough decade, or maybe it helps keep me grounded as a Canucks fan.”

“But really it’s because I like Bo. We talk a lot about Bubble Demko but Bubble Bo deserves equal recognition. The only Canuck to dominate a series as Bo did against the Blues was Kesler against the Preds in 2011. We knew this trade was coming, and it’s unique for Vancouver to sell high on a guy for future pieces.”

“But the time is right. I’m excited by the trade, and I’m excited to see what comes next for Bo. That video tribute when he comes back to Vancouver will be special. I’ll be sure to be there for it.”

Not only was he great on the ice, but he was also great off it too. With his poise and professionalism, he always made time to make a young reporter’s life easier, or make the day of a kid he never met who was caddying for him at a golf tournament. Bo made sure to make memories that will last a lifetime for those lucky enough to meet him.

Ally Penders @AllyPenders

“I haven’t followed the Vancouver Canucks for very long, but after moving to the city last summer I really dove into the team and fanbase. What a crazy season to start paying close attention to the organization.”

“As an aspiring writer and the idea of staying unbiased, I wouldn’t say I am a diehard fan of the Canucks, but I am a fan of a number of players throughout the league and Bo Horvat will always be near the top of that list. My favourite memory of Bo is a unique one”

“In December, I was selected as a recipient of The Botchford Project with the Canucks, and after a few sleepless nights leading up to the day, I chose the captain as my interview subject. As much as I would like to say I was calm, cool, and collected heading into that locker room for the interview, my heart was racing, and my hands were shaking.”

“The moment I walked up to him and introduced myself, I instantly felt relaxed. He spoke to me as if he had known me for years, he invited me to sit next to him, we joked and laughed, and he answered every question with so much passion and thought.”

“From what he told me in that short conversation, he loved this city and fanbase as much as, if not a little bit more, than anyone else. I feel so lucky to be able to say that he was my first professional NHL interview. Whether he stays on Long Island or moves on to somewhere else, I will always cheer for him.”

“He was everything that a captain should be, both on and off the ice and there will be a Bo-shaped hole in the organization and in the hearts of Canucks fans for many, many years.”

Clay Imoo @CanuckClay

“Even at 20 years old, we knew Bo Horvat was going to emerge as a leader and strong community figure. My son Sean had the opportunity to caddy for Bo at the annual Jake Milford Charity Invitational Golf Tournament in September 2015. Bo was 20 years old and Sean had just turned 14.”

“They spent the day on the golf course together, and Bo let Sean drive the cart for the day despite Sean being 2 years away from any sort of formal driving lesson. He sought Sean’s advice for club selection and on tricky greens, and he would have let Sean hit some shots for him but Bo’s left-handed clubs wouldn’t have worked for the righty Sean.”

“Bo took an active interest in Sean and they got to know each other pretty well. Bo was eager to share his experiences of his rookie season, his hopes of soon becoming an impact player for the Canucks, and his dream of eventually playing for Canada at a future Winter Olympics.”

“In the way that Bo accompanied Sean that afternoon, he showed great leadership, relational skills, and maturity. Those three elements became hallmarks of his captaincy.”

“Another fond memory I have of Bo was when my friends and I wrote and recorded a song called “53 Horvat Magic” as a parody to Bruno Mars’ hit “24 Karat Magic”. The Canucks video production team created an outstanding music video to go with the song, and the song eventually got to Bo himself. Speaking on After Hours on CBC, Bo said that he liked the song but wouldn’t be adding it to his playlist anytime soon.”

Horvat was a Vancouver Canuck for nearly a decade. And for some young fans, they never experienced Vancouver hockey without him. Bo was immediately a significant part of Canucks lore, and if you have only been watching for nine or fewer years, Bo Horvat was Canucks hockey. That is all about to change for a lot of young fans.

Isabella Urbani @TheChick4Stick

“The Canucks drafted Bo Horvat when I was 9 years old. It’s the first draft I can really recall – the first draft I actually tuned in to see who the Canucks would choose. I wasn’t as immersed with the team as I am now, and I had no clue who this teenager from London was.”

“What I do remember was the atmosphere. There was a buzz to the team. You could tell the tides were turning for the Canucks, and this was the first tidal wave.”

“I don’t remember much from Bo’s first season, but I remember hearing nonstop chatter about him being placed on a line with the Sedins. Bo’s time with the team was never easy. I’m about his age now, and it makes me appreciate just how much of an incredible leader and spokesperson he was for the team and the city – not only him but his wife, Holly.”

“From the time he was drafted, Bo was thrust into the spotlight. The team may not have been good, but with a fan base like ours, you’re bound to feel like someone was breathing down your neck. Bo didn’t falter.”

“He was all the franchise had to look forward to until the team could gather the next slew of young guns to support him with: Demko, Boeser, Pettersson, Hughes. Bo was the blueprint for the rebuild. He was the first integral piece of the puzzle, and he’s the closing chapter of this span of Canucks hockey.”

“Bo’s bubble theatrics are something I’ll never forget. He was captain clutch. I remember watching him score goals, sometimes multiple, and sitting and wondering, “Yeah, but what are the odds he does it again?” And he just kept doing it. It was a Cinderella story. That group of players, that mashed-up group of talent on paper, had really risen to conquer the defending Stanley Cup Champions.”

“Two seasons of playoff hockey with Bo wasn’t enough. Nine seasons of Bo wasn’t enough. Four seasons of him being captain weren’t even close enough. The only thing that would have made this trade worse was if Bo would have been traded to a conference team. I can’t stand losing Bo, I can’t even imagine having to play him more than two times a season.”

“But hey, it wouldn’t be the craziest thing if he pulled a Linden and came back to the team after they got better, right? I wish nothing but the best for Bo and his family”

Bye Horvat

Bo’s legacy as a Canuck is going to be a complicated one to reflect on in the years ahead. Horvat accomplished a lot intangibly while with the Canucks, namely bridging the gap between generations by continuing on the bedrock of the Canucks culture passed down to him by the Sedins. While controversy seemed to ravage this team in many different ways during Bo’s time as a Canuck, it never started because of or was perpetuated by him.

Horvat also accomplished a lot individually while in Vancouver, this much is evident by the demand that he had around him from other teams, once re-signing Horvat appeared to be off the table for the Canucks. Unfortunately though Horvat’s legacy as a Canuck will be overall bittersweet. A talented player, a devoted leader, stripped from this organization in a way that feels like it should’ve and could’ve had a happier ending.