NHL

Canucks captain Horvat forced to leave wife, newborn at home ahead of Cup chase

Canucks captain Bo Horvat returned to Vancouver Sunday, a week after his wife Holly gave birth to the couple’s first child. He is preparing for the team's training camp to open Monday while his family remains in Ontario.

25-year-old returned to Vancouver for start of training camp on Monday

Vancouver Canucks forward Bo Horvat celebrates a goal during a game in 2019. The Canucks' captain returned to Vancouver on Sunday, having to leave behind his wife and newborn son in Ontario ahead of the team's training camp. (Paul Sancya/The Associated Press)

He knew it wasn't going to be easy, but Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat had no idea how hard it was going to be.

Horvat returned to Vancouver Sunday, a week after his wife Holly gave birth to the couple's first child, Gunnar John Horvat. Horvat is preparing for the Canucks training camp to open Monday while his wife and son remain in Ontario.

"I'm not going to lie, it's not easy to leave your newborn," Horvat said during a video conference Thursday. "I only got to be part of it for a week, but it was the best week of my life. We're really happy to have the little man in our life.

"I knew it was going to be tough, but you don't know until it actually happens. Leaving Sunday was probably one of the toughest things I've ever had to go through, leaving your family behind."

Adding to Horvat's angst is the uncertainty of when he might see his family again.

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The Canucks are one of 24 teams playing in the NHL's Stanley Cup tournament, with the opening rounds expected to be split between Edmonton and Toronto.

The Canucks will travel to one of the hub cities July 26 and the first round of the playoffs begin Aug. 1.

Vancouver will face the Minnesota Wild in a best-of-five opening round series.

Like any player, Horvat is focused on winning a Stanley Cup – but that is a double-edged sword. The deeper the Canucks go in the playoffs, the longer he will be separated from his wife and new child.

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The Stanley Cup winner isn't expected to be decided until October.

"I'm not going to sugarcoat it, it's not going to be easy," said Horvat, who had 22 goals and 31 assists in 69 games with Vancouver before the league paused the season March 12 due to concerns over COVID-19. "At the same time, at the beginning of the year we set out a goal to make the playoffs and have a chance at the Stanley Cup, and we have that.

"If I'm going to be away from my family ... I want to go all the way. I want to try to win this thing so it's not just a waste of time and being away form my family for no reason. Hopefully by the end of this I will be putting him in the Stanley Cup.

Refusal to opt out

Some players in the NBA, Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer have decided not to return to their teams for health or personal reasons. It's something Horvat never considered.

"Not one time have I ever thought about opting out," he said. "I want to be there for my teammates, I want to be there when the season gets going, be part of winning here."

For the time being, Horvat has to be content communicating with his family on Facetime.

"They are probably getting sick of me by now," he joked. "Hopefully they won't forget me."

Unlike most new fathers, Horvat is also enjoying a full night's sleep.

"My wife curses me out pretty much every day for that," he said.

About the Author

Jim has written about sports in Canada for more than 40 years for The Canadian Press, CBC Sports, CFL.ca and Swimming Canada. He has covered eight Olympic Games and three Paralympics. He was there the night the Edmonton Oilers won their first Stanley Cup and has covered 12 Grey Cups.

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