COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The Blue Jackets held a press conference in which GM Jarmo Kekalainen officially introduced forward Nathan Horton as the newest member of the Blue Jackets. Here is the transcript of the press conference, which was held at Nationwide Arena.
Introduction by Jarmo KekalainenJarmo:
"Thank you for coming and being here. It’s obviously a very big day for the organization, for our team and the franchise. We went into the market looking for a scorer, a proven scorer, that can bring offensive skill and power forward type to our team. We found the number one guy on our list and got him signed. So we’re very pleased to have Nathan Horton join our team. He’s a proven scorer in the league, about 0.7 points per game in his career. He scores the goals right way. These days to get them done you need to get into the hard areas to get it done. He’s scored in the games that matter most. Great playoff performances with the Bruins when they won the Cup and this year when they fell a little short of the cup, but almost a point per game this year in the playoffs. Still a young guy, 28 years old, just come into his prime as a hockey player. So we are very pleased to have him. He brings experience of what it takes to win the cup and what it takes to win in this league which is important also. Obviously a big commitment from our ownership and again showed us the unbelievable support that we’ve had throughout my short experience here but they’re a very committed group and we’re very fortunate to have that type of support from the ownership. With that being said, I’d like to introduce you to Nathan Horton."
Nathan Horton Q&AQ:
Welcome to Columbus, first of all. This is a finish-your-career type of contract that you signed here. You had a lot of options. From reports I’ve seen you’ve visited one place, you’re here four hours or so after the deadline tells me that this is the place you circled right away. What was it about the organization that made you want to sign so emphatically with Columbus and make this be the absolute place that you may end up ending your career? Nathan Horton:
"This is the place I wanted to be. Once I heard it was an option, this is where I wanted to be. Obviously with Mr. Davidson and Jarmo, I think it’s in the hands of the right people and it’s headed in the right direction. They’ve got a lot of players that make this thing great. I’m not going to name all the players because I don’t want to leave anyone out and they mean that much to the team. For me to come in and to be a piece of the puzzle to help the team get to our goal and I’m excited to be here and it’s been a great day and I’m looking forward to a lot more." Q:
I think people in Boston are wondering why you would leave a situation like that where they had the run at the cup. Can you explain your desire to leave there and your willingness to come to a market like that seems to be on the cusp but hasn’t arrived just yet? NH:
"I’m thankful for my opportunity in Boston and I’m very thankful. I met a lot of great people, ive had great teammates, and had a great time there. To be in the city, it’s a great opportunity for me and my family to be able to be in the house, for it to be a little more quiet, that’s what I was looking for. An opportunity like that is here, and for me and my family to be here is pretty exciting." Q:
Now that it can be told, how many days did you spend in Columbus and what all did you do in that time? NH:
"I think two days, maybe one and a half. I walked around the city a little bit, you know, drove around and looked at all the places. When you’re a player you come in and you don’t get to see too much of the outside and I got to do that a little bit. From what I see it’s definitely a place I want to enjoy with me and my family. I want to be here a long time." Q:
What do you think you can bring to this team? They’ve been looking for a scorer and I’m assuming that you will be able to provide some goals for a team that was having trouble doing that early. NH:
"I think so, I think that’s just it. I want to bring what I can to the team. I think that scoring goals, battling, bringing pucks to the net, like a power forward does, that’s what I want to do. But again, I’ll do anything it takes, wherever I’m slotted and wherever the coach wants me to be, that’s where I’ll play and I’ll be happy to do it because I want to get back and be in the playoffs obviously and everyone else does. I think we’ve got the team to do it. I think that’s why we’re so excited here. There’s a buzz going around and I’ve felt it since I got here.” Q:
How extensive is the injury to your shoulder? How long will you be out? Can you give us a little detail about this? NH:
"I’ve just been kind of waiting to get it done. Im definitely going to have surgery. Hopefully in the next week, early week, we can figure that out and get something done and the sooner the better. I think the recovery is four to six months. I’m hoping four and I think everyone else would in my situation. I just want to be 100 percent and come back and never have a problem with it again." Q:
You’ve won, in the NHL, a Stanley Cup ring. Every athlete wants to win and no matter what the sport, everyone wants a ring. What are the elements here that you saw that tells you that this franchise is ready to win? NH:
"All the great pieces they have. Especially coming in at the end of last year, the run at the end of last year that they had, the buzz that was going around the city. I’ve only been here a day and I still feel it. Now that I’m here, I’ve gotten texts from almost all the players. It feels like a family and everyone seems to be getting along and that’s what you want and that’s what it takes to win. You want to play for the guy next to you and I found that out in Boston. You’ve really got to come together to get to the ultimate goal and it seems like that’s the way it is here." Q:
Youre going to go with the number 8, right? NH:
"With eight, you turn it sideways and it means forever." Q:
Was there ever a discussion with RJ Umberger who has number 18? Any negotiating back and forth? NH:
"No he’s had the number for awhile now so I’m happy to be given this number and this jersey and I’m excited."Q:
You’ve talked about your family two or three times already. It sounds like this city was part of what you wanted—less hectic, more family type atmosphere. Did you talk to other players before you came to that conclusion about how they like it here or whatever? NH:
"Yes, I’ve talked to a few guys that have been here and said great things. Obviously coming here and experiencing it and seeing what it has to offer, there’s no question in my mind that this is a place I want to be. It’s a great place for my family. Obviously when you get older and you have a family, that matters a lot to you, like the schooling. It all works out. This is the perfect scenario. Great team, a great place to live and it’s a great place to win.” Q:
When you first started playing, would you have wanted to play in a big city as opposed to more of a family-oriented team? NH:
"I was just happy to get into the NHL. Obviously you do think a little bit differently when you have a family to worry about too. It’s a nice place for my family and me and we’re excited to be here." Q:
Were the Blue Jackets the first team to contact you? How many other places did you even consider?
"I’m not sure about that. Once I heard they were, we did get in contact. I felt strongly right away. I wanted to come in and see it and I’m glad I did."
Jarmo Kekalainen Q&AQ:
You took full advantage of the opportunity to have a player come into town. How important was that for you to utilize that? How much did that impact you being able to attract him? Would it have been different if it had just started at noon as it has in previous years? Jarmo Kekalainen:
"Yeah, I’m sure it would’ve been. I think the city has a lot to offer. I’ve seen it personally with my family. I’m sure everybody with family thinks about it approximately the same way. What’s good for the kids, what’s good for the whole family, the schooling and all those things. There was a match there and once we knew he had an interest and we could show him around, a little bit, take him to the zoo, and all those different things, good things, that the city has to offer. I think it was a good day for them and the whole family. That’s definitely something that we have to use to our advantage in the future, that this is a great city." Q:
Are you done? Is there anything else you’re working on? Do you anticipate any other signings or deals? JK:
"We’re never done. That’s my favorite answer to that. We’re always looking for ways to improve. Obviously we’ve got the salary cap situation that we have to take into consideration. We still have room there, so we’re working on different options to improve our team. But we’re close to being done before the season starts, but it’s an ongoing process." Q:
Can you talk about the players you have now in the fold and what you think the prospects are for next year? JK:
"With Nathan we were able to add that scoring that we were looking for. Obviously he isn’t going to be there for the couple first months, maybe three, first months of the season. So there’s going to be opportunity for the players that we have on our team to take on a bigger role. We might be looking for something to fill that hole in the short term or the other options that we might have on the table still for the role in the top 6 of our forwards. We feel good about the draft but I’ve said many times that we don’t expect any of the players from this year’s draft to step in and make our team. I don’t think that’s a fair expectation for those kids. We’ll get a good look at some of those guys next week, that’s the first step in their pro career. Maybe somebody comes in and really surprises us and it leads to taking a closer look at him in training camp and we’ll go from there. But we feel pretty good about our group right now we have pretty much the same groups we had at the end of the year. We were winning games and everybody believed in our team from inside. We started to make believers of the people on the outside too with the way we played. We got Sergei Bobrovsky signed, obviously that was a big thing for our team. We’ve always felt that defense is one of our big strengths. We have a very solid defensive group of guys that also has some skill and puck maneuverability and size. Now we were able to add a power forward that can score goals and bring offense to our team. We feel good about our team." Q:
When we talked a week ago, you knew you had a lot of things ahead of you. You had three first round picks, you got Bob signed, now here’s Nathan standing right here. A week ago did you envision those things going as well as they did? Honestly, a week ago, did you think that that week would go by with this amount of success JK:
"I’m a dreamer, so I’m always trying to dream big. I have all kinds of fantasies, always dreaming big about things to happen. I’m the optimistic guy when everyone says that ‘you’re never going to get them’ and I say ‘well, we’ll see.’ I always had that battle with the scouts on our staff. I can remember one guy I had that every year with and said ‘we’re never going to get him’ and I said ‘I think we will.’ Sometimes you don’t, sometimes you will. I believe in that positive approach that you dream big and you go for it and hopefully things happen." Q:
You were able to add a scoring touch and the player you’re acquiring today fits the team that emerged in the last couple months of the season. How important was that? There are a lot of scorers that you could’ve gained through free agency but it seems that Nathan almost sort of furthers that tough to play against idea you came up with at the end of the season. JK:
"Absolutely. Those are big things that we’ve always talked about—the character aspect of the players that we want to have on our team. Nathan is a competetor. He goes to the right areas to score goals in today’s game which is right on that blue paint. You’ve got to go into the hard areas to score goals. Tips and rebounds and taking the beating in front of the net is part of it. He’s a big guy that is hard to move from those areas and he’s not afraid to stick his nose in there. I think he fits all those things. Obviously we’ve done our homework on what type of teammate he is and what type of character he brings to our group and all those things checked in very positive. That’s why he was the number one guy on our list. We went after our number one guy and got him and so we were very, very pleased."