VANCOUVER -- When Vancouver Canucks center Bo Horvat takes the ice for warmups before the game against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday there will be a different name on the back of his jersey, someone else on his mind and likely a lump in his throat.
As part of Canucks Hockey Fights Cancer Night, each player will wear lavender jerseys for warmups with the name of the person they are fighting for on the name bar.
For Horvat, that is 'John Horvat,' his grandfather, who died from colon cancer in 2010.
"He was probably one of my biggest fans ever so to wear his name on the back of my jersey is going to be special and a great way to remember him," Horvat said. "I think about him all the time and this was his dream for me as well. As much as it was my dream, it was his dream to see me playing the NHL so to wear his name on the back is going to be special."
The idea came from assistant equipment manager Brian "Red" Hamilton and the players have embraced it.
Forward Jannik Hansen is out of the lineup with fractured ribs but felt so strongly about honoring Morten Tillebaek, a childhood friend and neighbor in Denmark who lost a cancer battle "at a young age," according to Hansen, that he put the special jersey on and joined his teammates for a couple of minutes of an optional morning skate.
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"I think everyone has been touched one way or another, some more than others, by it and it's a great way to create attention, so I was a little sad knowing I wouldn't get to do it in the warmup tonight so I pushed a couple of trainers and medical staff to let me get out there," Hansen said.
"It's nice to be able to do something like this. It's something you carry very close to you."
Defenseman Ben Hutton has 'Buble' on the back of his jersey to honor Vancouver-based singer Michael Buble, whose three-year-old son Noah was recently diagnosed with cancer.
Center Brandon Sutter has 'Nicholle Anderson' on his name bar as a tribute to the wife of Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson after her recent cancer diagnosis.
"Just a way to show our support," said Sutter, who has never met the Andersons outside of hockey. "A lot of people are going through some tough things right now."
Other players chose to honor family of the team's staff. Daniel Sedin has 'D. Hamilton' on his jersey as a tribute to Brian's father Don, who died of esophageal cancer in 2003. Markus Granlund has 'De Vera' on his jersey to honor media relations coordinator Alfred De Vera's sister, Abigail, who has been battling colorectal cancer for a year and will be at the game.
"It's very touching," Alfred De Vera said. "I haven't cried in a while. I might tonight."