During a quiet ride to the Pepsi Center for morning skate early Tuesday, between Colifax and Stout Street, Canucks GM Jim Benning looked back from the first row of the bus and called Bo Horvat to the front.
“Bo,” said Benning, waving the 19-year-old over.
The clock above the bus driver read 10:21 when Horvat sat down and 10:22 when he returned to his seat.
A normal minute to rest of the world will be forever remembered by Horvat.
What was said between general manager and rookie? Horvat wouldn’t say, but he’s been saying all the right things going into this NHL debut tonight in Denver.
He’s excited, nervous and antsy, the butterflies in his stomach are making such racket they should be charged with disturbing the peace.
Horvat, like every Canadian kid who has ever picked up a hockey stick, dreamed of one day making it to the dance and tonight he’ll salsa on a line with Derek Dorsett and Jannik Hansen against the Colorado Avalanche.
“It’s surreal,” said Horvat, encircled by reporters post-morning skate. “I had trouble sleeping last night, I was thinking about the game pretty much all night. Now that today has come, I just can’t wait to step out onto the ice.”
When Vancouver’s 1st round pick from the 2013 NHL draft does hit the ice Tuesday night for pre-game skate, he’ll do it alone in all likelihood. The Canucks are known for sending rookies out on the ice for a loner lap in their first NHL game, something teammates are looking forward to as much as Horvat’s debut itself.
“I’ve heard about that,” laughed Luca Sbisa, “but I’ve never actually seen it done. That would be pretty funny, we’ll have to see what plays out.”
As far as first game advice goes, everyone asked, including Sbisa, Daniel Sedin, Kevin Bieksa and coach Willie Desjardins, said it’ll be a memorable experience for Horvat regardless of his play or the final score, so it’s important to remember to have fun.
Horvat is just hoping to remember all his gear.
“There’s a lot going on for me,” he said. “It’s definitely emotional and exciting and I’ll be nervous, but I’m more excited than anything. I have some family here and I’m sure there will be a few more surprises today as well.”
Now Horvat plays the waiting game with a great debate on hand: does he try to calm his nerves before the game, or use that energy to hopefully have an explosive debut?
“I think I’m going to use it. The first couple of shifts I’ll be firing on adrenaline so I’ve got to make the most of that and get in on the forecheck and get those first few shifts out of the way and then calm myself down and go from there.
“I’ve played in first games before, this is definitely the best first game I’ve ever been a part of, but I’m going to have to control my emotions and just play my game.”
Wise words for such a youngster, his talk with Benning obviously went a long way.