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Former Canuck captain Horvat clarifies ‘better than Vancouver’ comment

‘I didn’t mean any disrespect to the fans of Vancouver, the teammates or city of Vancouver at all’
New York Islanders center Bo Horvat (14) skates with the puck during the first period of an NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Wednesday, March 29, 2023, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Bo Horvat on Monday attempted to clarify a comment he made after a weekend victory by his New York Islanders that caught the ire of fans back home in Vancouver.

Horvat was asked after the Islanders’ home win against Philadelphia on Saturday how the atmosphere and excitement of the building ranked for him and replied: “It’s been unbelievable. It’s a lot better than Vancouver, I can tell you that for free.”

The comment went viral considering Horvat played parts of nine seasons with the Canucks and served as their captain before the trade to New York in late January. Horvat said Monday he wasn’t expecting the fallout and explained it as a “heat-of-the-moment thing.”

“I didn’t mean any disrespect to the fans of Vancouver, the teammates or city of Vancouver at all,” Horvat said after the team’s morning skate before facing the Washington Capitals. “It wasn’t directed at them at all. (Islanders) fans were all excited, and I was excited to be in a playoff push and it was just kind of one of those things where my emotions got the best of me, and I was just really happy to be there.”

Less than a week after acquiring Horvat from the Canucks, the Islanders signed him to a $68 million, eight-year contract through the 2030-31 season. Talks with Vancouver on an extension last year fell through and combined with the organization’s rebuild prompted a move.

The Canucks made the playoffs only twice during Horvat’s time with them: a first-round exit during his rookie season in 2014-15 and in 2020 when the field was expanded to 24 teams. The Islanders got Horvat in the hopes of returning to the postseason after missing it last season, and he has 15 points in 28 games since the trade.

The 28-year-old center from London, Ontario, apologized and said his comment “might have come out the wrong way to a lot of people.”

“I’m just excited to be in the position right now, to be in a playoff push, to be right there,” Horvat said. “I really enjoyed my time in Vancouver. I’m not trying to disrespect them at all. I’m sorry if it offended anybody, but I’m really happy to be in this position right now. I’m really happy to be here, and I just wanted to express that.”

—Stephen Whyno, The Associated Press

READ MORE: Islanders sign Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him