Acquiring Patric Hornqvist laid the foundation for Pittsburgh’s back-to-back Stanley Cup championships in 2016 and ’17, as he changed the identity of the Penguins, making them tougher to play against with his fearlessness and feistiness.

“He brought a different element to our team, and I think that was a big part of our success,” Kris Letang said. “He's the type of player that sacrificed his body and goes in front of the net, is not afraid of anything… when things didn’t go our way, he would be a spark.”

“He meant everything to this team, to the city,” Jake Guentzel said. “He was a huge locker room guy and just an unbelievable hockey player with a pretty unique style.”

During his six seasons with the Penguins, Hornqvist collected 264 points (132G-132A) in 407 regular-season games, and 38 points (22G-16A) in 66 postseason games. Hornqvist eventually got traded to Florida in 2020, and announced his retirement back in July, joining the Panthers front office as scouting and development consultant.

The Penguins are thrilled for the opportunity to celebrate the 36-year-old’s career on Friday in the Sunshine State, as the Panthers are hosting a pregame ceremony to honor Hornqvist ahead of their matchup with Pittsburgh.

“Every time you see guys kind of leaving the game, you want maybe one last chance to spend time with them, either for dinner or on the ice. So, it’s cool that we have a chance to be there for that,” Letang said.

Ahead of that night, his former teammates shared three stories that perfectly encapsulated the unique individual nicknamed ‘Horny.’


“One night, we did a poker night and some drinking games with all the guys together in the clubhouse. The next thing you know, Horny is jumping everywhere. I'm pretty mellow and calm, but he's like, jumping everywhere with his shirt off. He's grabbing me, like, I think I have bruises all over my body (laughs). It's just the type of guy he is all the time."

That’s a great example of Hornqvist’s energy. Former Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford, who orchestrated the trade to bring Hornqvist to Pittsburgh from Nashville at the 2014 NHL Draft, called him the sort of guy who never has a bad day. "Every day, when he walked into the rink, it was a great day," Mike Sullivan said. And if a teammate had one, he made it better.

“He was huge. Like, obviously, not only on the scoresheet or on the ice, but in the room as a guy that always got a good attitude, really vocal,” Letang said. “Just bringing so much energy in the room, at the restaurant, on the bus, on the plane. Just always fun to be around.”

Hornqvist, who inherited his positive outlook on life from his mother Marie – “she never sees a problem in anything,” Patric said – never lost the pure joy that came from first playing the sport as a kid. That mindset helped get the group through the emotional rough patches they faced during the course of an 82-game season and playoffs.

“Just how much fun he had playing the game, I think that's contagious,” Crosby said.


“Sid likes to have all the water bottles standing up on the bench. They have to be standing up. One night, those two are kind of yelling at each other, and Horny just went and knocked all his water bottles over because they were mad at each other. Then, like two shifts later, they go out and score together.”

Note: Letang was originally going to tell this one, but thought Crosby might have wanted to. When he heard Guentzel had already done so, Letang added a little more to it:

“Horny was just fiery coming back to the bench. Like, he knows Sid wants every bottle standing up.”

That’s a great example of Hornqvist’s intensity. All athletes, particularly professional ones, are competitive and passionate, but Hornqvist had an incomparable compete level that formed through advice that his parents gave him as a child:

“They told me that you always have to work hard for your chances, and don’t take anything for granted. You never know what is going to happen. Make sure that you come prepared to work hard.”

That’s exactly what Hornqvist did, without fail. “You never had to worry about him; he was going to be there every night,” Guentzel said.

Hornqvist wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone to strive for that same standard. If the team was sluggish in practice, or not performing up to their potential in games, Hornqvist would snap them out of it.

“I think you need guys like that, where they're gonna get upset when things don't go right, where they’re gonna wear their emotions on their sleeve,” Bryan Rust said. “Whatever the situation might be, it gets the team going. Obviously, he's the guy who wore his heart on his sleeve. Not too many guys worked harder, battled harder than him.”

While Hornqvist was intense, he was never intimidating, with Rust remembering how he would always be asking the young guys to go to dinner to make sure the team was always together doing things. Hornqvist also took a mentoring role of sorts with Tristan Jarry, constantly working with the netminder during his early call-ups to Pittsburgh from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

“He was hard on me. He pushed me in practice, he wanted the best out of everyone, just the way that he worked and the way that he pushed people,” Jarry said. “I think it brought the best out of everybody. Just the way that his character was, how hard he worked, it led him to a great NHL career. It helped all of us while he was here.”


“I have goalie gear at my house. Every time we had a Super Bowl party or something, it would always be a matter of time before he’d have the goalie gear on. He’d literally have the gloves and the pads, and that’s it, and he’d want guys to shoot pucks on him (laughs)… like, I’ve never seen anyone that was willing to do that, and he was not kidding about it. I loved when he threw the goalie gear on at my house. That’s one of my favorites.”

That’s a great example of Hornqvist’s commitment to sacrificing the body. He thrived while battling in the blue paint and making life miserable for opposing goaltenders – “he got under the skin of a lot of guys, especially goalies,” Letang said – despite never being a behemoth at 5-foot-11 and 190 pounds.

“I don’t think I’ve ever played with someone who just continued to go to the net, time after time after time, after taking a beating,” Crosby said. “I’d say him and Kuni (Chris Kunitz) are a different breed that way, where they just kept going there.”

For many Penguins fans, their lasting image of Hornqvist standing on the bench in tears as the clock ticked down in Game 6 of the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, after he scored what stood as the game-winner against his former team with just 1:35 left to play in regulation.

"The goal he scored in Nashville was vintage Patric Hornqvist. I remember like it was yesterday," Sullivan said. "It was aJustin Schultz wrist shot that went off the backboard, and Horny was at the net like he always is... and he bangs one in off the side of the net. I think 98% of the goals he ever scored came within a foot and a half of paint. That was the brilliance of his game. To see the emotion on his face when he scored was amazing."

The Penguins certainly wouldn’t have gotten to that point without him. Fellow Swede Carl Hagelin, who also retired this summer, said it best when he called Hornqvist “a true Viking” – and the sport won’t be the same without Hornqvist.