|The jacket of Nathan Horton #18 of the Boston Bruins set up in the locker room before the game against the Vancouver Canucks |
They had just defeated the Vancouver Canucks, 4-0, tying the Stanley Cup Final series at 2-2, outscoring the Canucks 12-1 in the last two games.
But when the B’s players made their way into the locker room, they had a surprise waiting for them that made the entire night that much better. Nathan Horton
walked into the room.
The injured Bruins forward is going to miss the remainder of the Stanley Cup Finals with a severe concussion he suffered in the opening frame of Game 3 when Canuck defenseman Aaron Rome checked Horton in open ice.
Rome has been suspended four games and Horton has been absent from the Bruins locker room since the hit, and the moment he walked through the curtain was the first time any of his teammates had seen him.
They greeted the always smiling forward with laughter and a round of applause.
“It’s good to see him. It’s good to see him smile. He’s a great guy and friend, so it was good. I can’t describe it. Like I said, he’s a great guy and good friend so it’s really, really, really good to see him,” Horton’s linemate, David Krejci
“I was so glad he came.”
In addition to being a fan favorite, Horton is also a hit among his teammates. Horton’s big smile and always-positive attitude keeps things light in the locker room.
“He’s an unbelievable teammate, he’s so positive, he’s in such a good mood all the time. He makes everyone around him feel better about themselves. Anything we can do for him obviously we are going to try to go,” B’s forward Shawn Thornton
It’s only Horton’s first year in Boston, but he has already made a lasting impression on the Bruins organization and fan base. In just his first career Stanley Cup Playoff fun, Horton scored two series-winning goals this postseason, both in Game 7's. The tallies gave Horton ‘hero’ status among the B’s biggest fans and made him a respected member of the B’s hockey community.
But last night, Horton wasn’t at the Garden to score clutch goals. The top-line winger had a different agenda upon arrival in the locker room.
The Bruins have instilled a new tradition in their postgame locker room routine. After a win, the B’s pass around an 80's style jacket, purchased by Andrew Ference
on e-bay for $35.
The jacket is given to the Bruin who gave the best performance in the night’s game, and is handed out by the previous B to receive the honor.
With his series-clinching goal late in last week Game 7 victory against Tampa Bay, Horton was the jacket recipient. That set him up to pass along the prize after Monday’s Game 3 against Vancouver. Horton wasn’t available to give away the jacket after the 8-1 victory.
In a touching move, the Bruins players collectively make the decision to leave the jacket hanging in Horton’s stall. The Black & Gold windbreaker hung solemnly in Horton’s space, while the rest of his teammates continued their postgame routines.
“He’s the one that had the jacket before and he wasn't there to give it out. We just let him keep it there, you know. It wasn't right for someone else to give it out when he had it the last time,” Michael Ryder said.
But Wednesday, to the surprise of his teammates, Horton reappeared in the locker room, postgame and took the jacket from his stall and passed it along to Rich Peverley
“He came in the room and everyone’s pretty emotional to just be able to see him. No one has seen him since everything happened so he wanted to give it out tonight,” said Peverley.
“He was really excited to be in here I think just to see the guys, and no one was expecting to see him tonight. I think everyone was super excited, he’s an integral part of this team and you know obviously one of the best players the whole playoffs.
“So you know everyone was really excited to see him.”