WILMINGTON, Mass. While the news certainly didnt come as a shock to most of Nathan Hortons Bruins teammates after watching him struggle with concussion symptoms over the last three months, the word that No. 18 wont make it for the playoffs still had gravity to it.
I was hoping he would come back in the first or second round, but now he wont be. It kind of sucks, but thats how it goes sometimes, said David Krejci. Its his life and his own body and he shouldnt be pushing it if he doesnt feel well. Theres nothing you can. Ive had concussions a few times, so I know how it is. Its not an easy situation.
You cant replace him. Hes a great player and I love playing with him. But we played close to 40 games without him, so we know how to win without him. We have great depth. Hopefully we can do it.
The Bruins seem to have moved on from the power forwards absence, but that was only after getting shut out five times in the first three weeks following his concussion suffered against the Flyers in late January. Horton had six power play goals in his half-season with Boston this year, and that along with his 6-foot-2, 210-pound frame -- will be one of the big areas that cant be readily replaced.
Horton is still last years Game 7 hero with a pair of game-winning goals against the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning during last years playoffs, and that kind of thing cant be replicated.
His clutch goals and contagious smile will be missed by his teammates. The Bruins have gone a very average 18-16-2 in the 36 games since Horton was felled by the Tom Sestito blindside hit.
Hes one of my best friends on the team and its obviously some very difficult news. He needs to do whats best for his health. Thats first and foremost, said Milan Lucic, his linemate for the last two years. But Im not going to lie to you. Were going to miss. Weve been forced to move on because hes been gone so long, but you dont replace a player like Horton.
The Bruins wont even try to replace Hortons sizestrengthscoring combo at the right wing spot alongside David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Instead theyve been using the same player there that replaced Horton when the Aaron Rome hit took him out of last years Stanley Cup Finals.
Claude Julien opted to go with speed, shiftiness and a little feistiness with Peverley, who is still getting his timing and feel around the net after missing six weeks himself with a sprained knee. In time Peverley should again mesh with Krejci and Lucic, but wasnt at the front of the Boston coachs thoughts on Wednesday.
Those were reserved for Horton, and a long summer of rest, rehab and recovery that still looms for a player waiting for his head to clear.
Number one, its unfortunate. We lose a pretty good player but we havent had him for a good long time now. For him its probably the best thing, which is most important right now, said Claude Julien. Youve got to make the right decision with those. Hes tried to come back a few times and he kept having those setbacks. You could lately he was feeling the pressure of trying to come back for the playoffs.
When youre not feeling well, thats not right. We felt as an organization it was important to let him know we were going to shut him down for the year. Hes probably a little relieved in a way because of the pressure he was putting on himself. He wanted to be able to help his teammates, but if hes not ready you cant push a guy to play. Certainly his health has always been the main concern for us.
So Horton will sit on the sidelines away from his teammates hoping to banish the foggy head and ill-at-ease feelings that come with post-concussion symptoms and perhaps once again provide an inspiration for his teammates marching toward a Stanley Cup.