Horton: 'I still don't feel like I'm myself'

577426.jpg

Horton: 'I still don't feel like I'm myself'

BOSTON -- Nathan Horton has been out of sorts for nearly the entire season, and only recently there have been modest signs of improvement.

In the seasons first 11 games there were two or three performances approaching Hortons high standards on the ice, and the top line right winger is on a Slowski Family pace for 15 goals, 37 points, a minus-22 and nearly 200 penalty minutes in a series of statistics that dont quite add up for the Game 7 hero.

One of the first steps toward fixing a problem, however, is admitting there is one to begin with. Horton finally went public with the struggles hes experienced finding his game coming off last years season-ending concussion, and related how out of sorts he feels on the ice. Horton is having major difficulty getting that crisp, quick release going off his stick and hes been out of position with and without the puck at points this season.

To be fair to Horton many of the Bruins have gone through this early in the season, but with Horton its been more pronounced and prolonged.

Im still trying to get my game back, admitted Horton, who has managed points in only four of the teams first 11 games this season. I dont feel 100 percent out there like Im myself. Im just trying to get that back.

With my timing and stuff I still dont feel like Im myself out there. I mean . . . Im fine, but I just need to be better obviously. I just need to be better. I had never had a concussion before or whatever. I didnt know what to expect. Obviously it has contributed a slow start, but Im just going to keep working through it. I have to be better, I know I can be better and I want to be better.

The player and the Bruins were both adamant there are no concussion-like symptoms remaining and physically he is feeling fine but Horton also admitted he doesnt feel like himself out on the ice.

Its very similar to the strange limbo existence Patrice Bergeron found himself mired in the season following his own severe concussion, and he knows exactly what Horton is fighting. Bergeron put up a very un-Bergie eight goals and 39 points in 63 games in and out of the Bruins lineup, and looks back at the season as a true bridge year toward getting back to his normal NHL self.

The two Bs forwards havent discussed their now shared experience yet this season, but Bergeron said his door is always open if Horton has any questions about life after the first big concussion.

That year when I came back it was more a question of timing and execution, and all that. I felt fine, but I also felt like maybe I was forcing things a little too much and putting too much pressure on myself, said Bergeron. I know what hes going through and hes going to come out of it for sure. Its not easy, but I know hes going to be fine.

The good news for Horton and the Bruins: Hortons concussion wasnt as severe as the one dealt out to Bergeron, and it shouldnt take nearly as long for the right winger to snap out of the haze. Claude Julien has seen evidence Hortons game is coming around, but the statistics and foolish frustration penalties would say otherwise at the present moment.

Last night Horton and his line played a lot better, and they competed better, said Julien. I told them today to put the stat sheet aside and look at what they did. They created some scoring chances and Lucic scored. The other two had their chances and played better. If they continue to compete like that then its only a matter of time before they start getting rewarded with goals, assists and everything else.

Horton has had a slow start to the season. I think anybody thats missed an amount of time with a concussion is going to be slow coming back. You saw Bergeron take half or of a year to come all the way back and Marc Savard when he came back too. Whether its hesitation or whatever it is, it can take some time to come back from a concussion. Its something weve noticed along the way.

Horton admitted that his Falling Down impersonation of Michael Douglas in the third period against the Carolina Hurricanes was regrettable, but he didnt have as big a problem with the cross-checking penalty in the third period against the Montreal Canadiens last weekend.

Or the boarding penalty last night against the Senators when pucks werent falling into open nets for him.

Or his decision to skip speaking with the media masses following a needed win.

Instead Horton seemed to be speaking like a man looking for a clean slate to this season after Wednesdays practice at the Garden, and its justified given the fog that hasnt quite lifted from his game after a cheap shot from Aaron Rome in the Finals.

Horton saw some of the fog start to dissipate Tuesday night against the Senators, and thats good news for a guy battling just to get back to normal on the ice again.

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.

*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.  

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.

*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.

*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.

*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?

*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.

*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.

 

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.

MORE BRUINS

But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.