He's been playing on Sidney Crosby's right wing and is a fixture on the top power-play unit. Hornqvist opened the year with points in 4 straight games (4G-4A) for the first time in his career. His 8 points rank third on the team behind Crosby and Evgeni Malkin. Hornqvist has had multiple points in 3 of 6 games with the Penguins, and he recorded 12 shots on net Oct. 18 vs. NY Islanders - becoming the first Pittsburgh player to record 12 shots since James Neal on March 27, 2012 (also vs. the Islanders).
However, fans may not know a lot about the Sweden native off the ice. So he took the time to sit down with us and answer some questions.
o Hornqvist is from Sollentuna, which is just outside of Stockholm. “It’s a subdivision maybe five miles from Stockholm,” he said. “It’s not far at all. I’ve been living there almost all of my life until I moved over (to North America).”
o Central to the landscape of Sollentuna are the big lakes Norrviken and Edsviken (which is a bay area of the Baltic Sea. Hornqvist mentioned those when asked what he misses the most about his hometown. “Just to have the water around you. And being from a big town, there’s a lot of things to do. But what you miss the most when you’re over here is friends and family. It doesn’t matter where you live, those things you miss the most.”
o Hornqvist’s only sibling, his little sister Camilla – who’s 18 years old – just came to visit her 27-year-old brother in his new town. “We’re nine years apart. So I almost grew up by myself,” he said, laughingly adding, “When she (was born), I didn’t really care. I was 9 years old and this little girl came along, so I didn’t really pay attention. But now later on, obviously you get closer to her when you’re on the same page. She’s an adult now and it makes it a little easier.”
o Hornqvist met his wife, Malin, when she was a figure skater in the rink he used to play at growing up in Sweden. They had their first child, daughter Isabella, this past spring. “She’s seven months,” Hornqvist said. “Just a nice little girl. So far so good. It can change, but she’s been really good to us and we both are really happy. She’s healthy, so we can’t ask for anything more.”
o Hornqvist said what he loves the most about being a father is “just all the energy she gives me. You wake up in the morning and you know she’s always smiling. Even (after the loss to Dallas), we had a bad game and you come home and she’s awake and smiling at you. You just let the game go. I think that’s the best part to being a dad. And obviously to be part of a family is a great feeling, too.”
o Speaking of dads, Hornqvist’s father is the reason he started playing hockey. “I wanted to be like my dad. He was a goalie. Actually my first game, I was playing in net, and it didn’t really work out that well. I think we lost like 11-0,” he laughed. “So I told him I don’t want to play in net anymore. Since then I’ve been a forward. He brought me into the game and I love it.”
o While Hornqvist’s dad was “by far” his biggest influence in his career, another one of his hockey idols is Hall of Famer Peter Forsberg. Hornqvist was named Rookie of the Year in the Swedish Elite League in 2006-07 after leading junior players with 23 goals, a total which broke a record previous held by Forsberg for most goals by a junior player in Swedish Elite League history. Forsberg later set up Hornqvist’s first-ever Olympic goal in the 2010 Games. “I wish I could play like him,” Hornqvist laughed. “We were on the same line there. Obviously that’s a big moment in my career, playing with him. I always looked up to him. I think he was the first really skilled guy I played with. Just a great player.”
o Hornqvist moved from Sweden to the U.S. seven years ago to start his NHL career with the Predators, and said the hardest part was of the adjustment was off the ice. “In Europe, the team actually helped you to find an apartment and cars and all that. Here, at the rink they treat you really well but outside the rink you can do whatever you want and obviously that was tough in the start.”
Thankfully, he had someone to help him through it.
“But that’s why you have good teammates,” he continued. “I remember my first few years, I lived with Shea Weber and he really took care of me. Then when the young Swedish players came to Nashville, I took care of them and they could live with me. I’m pretty sure it’s the same here. It’s just a great culture in the room and that’s what I love about this league.”
o Hornqvist said the Predators captain is his best friend in the league, adding, “I lived with him for the first two years and he always took care of me. So it’d be fun to play against him and see how it’s going to be.”
o He’s now getting to know his new teammates here in Pittsburgh. As of now, Hornqvist’s seatmate on the plane for team road trips is defenseman Paul Martin. “We’ve only had one trip so far. I didn’t do much. I was sleeping. I was a bad, bad seatmate,” joked Hornqvist, who said he doesn’t like video games and isn’t big into movies.
o So what does he do with his free time on the road? “Just hang out with the guys. It’s what it’s all about. We have a great group of guys in here and we have a lot of fun on and off the ice.”
o Coffee is the one thing Hornqvist can’t live without, especially on game days, as it’s an integral part of his routine. After morning skate, he showers and goes into the cold tub before eating lunch and going for a nap. As soon as he gets up, he makes coffee at his home. “I really need my coffee after my nap. If I can choose one thing I really want to have, it’s my coffee when I wake up. I love coffee. That sets me in the mood to get going.”
o Obviously he can’t bring his coffeemaker with him on the road, so when the team is away, Hornqvist gets a dark roast before games.
o Once he gets to the arena, Hornqvist always participates in the pregame soccer warmup. “It’s so fun,” he said. “You can tell if the boys are on their game or not already there. It’s fun to get after people. It’s a great way to get things going.” Hornqvist, who also grew up playing soccer, admitted he tends to be one of the last guys left standing in the game. “Usually,” he smiled.
o Hornqvist’s nickname is “Horny,” which was given to him by his teammates in Nashville. “It’s been that since then. I didn’t choose it or anything,” he grinned.
o The always-smiling Hornqvist said what he loves the most about living here is “just how friendly everybody is. Everybody wants to help out. You’re never afraid to ask somebody for some help. Obviously playing in the best league in the world, that’s what I dreamed about and now I want to win.”