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Nathan Horton gives Columbus a visit

Jul 3, 2013, 8:08 PM EDT

nathahortonsorrgetty Getty Images

Nathan Horton decided to part ways with the Boston Bruins this summer, and an explanation surfaced on Wednesday: he wants a quieter life, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun. Perhaps that explains why he made the Columbus Blue Jackets his first free agent visit, as the Columbus Dispatch reports.

(Horton’s agent Paul Krepelka confirmed his trip to Columbus.)

It’s worth noting that Horton wants to play in a non-traditional market, because the “quieter” part will draw jokes because of the team’s tradition of firing a cannon after every goal, as PHT’s own Joe Yerdon points out.

While the 28-year-old enjoyed considerable success forming the “HuLK” line and winning a Stanley Cup in three busy campaigns with Boston, he spent the first six seasons of his NHL career out of the spotlight with the Florida Panthers.

Columbus may provide a similar – if less sunny – atmosphere.

This could also be a good fit in hockey terms, too, as the Blue Jackets are aggressively attempting to improve their team.

Last summer, R.J. Umberger deftly described the group as a “team full of second-liners,” but that could change. The Marian Gaborik trade boosted the team’s star power and Sergei Bobrovsky landed the Vezina Trophy.

Horton would add considerable size to a forward group that is a little on the smaller side (according to the team’s listings, he’d be the heaviest forward, with only Jack Johnson outweighing him at 231 lbs. to 229). He doesn’t throw his weight around that frequently – Horton averaged less than a hit per game in 2013 – but that size helps him get in position to score big goals.

With significant cap space, the right market feel and a new-look front office, this could be an interesting fit. Horton is likely to draw plenty of other suitors, however.

  1. titansbro - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:24 PM

    Still can’t believe that’s his reasoning for wanting out of Boston. I thought players liked passionate fans. Never thought I’d hear a guy say he wants to play where the fans don’t care.

    • ncbruinsfan - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:42 PM

      Don’t be a knucklehead. That’s not his message. Boston was an incredible experience but he just wants a fresh start. Can’t blame him for that. At least he played out his contract and contributed unlike others who sulk and underperform and end up pushed out the door. The Bruins would love to have him back but will respect his desires.

      • tdrusher225 - Jul 4, 2013 at 12:00 PM

        Horton was great and Bruins fans should be happy for what he did, but I can’t understand his rationale for wanting a “fresh start”. Why would he want that? He consistently received 1st line minutes and PP time (even when he would coast through the regular season), and got to play with two quality players in Krejci and Lucic. Not only that he got to play in, arguably, the best hockey market in the U.S. with a team that competes for championships every year. And a guy who prefers to play in a market where the fan attention is low and the team isn’t that good, to a city like Boston is someone I wouldn’t have much respect for if he wasn’t such a valuable player for the Bruins. I respect his decision, but his rationale is a bit confusing.

  2. agellings - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Would be great to see the CBJ land Horton.

    They need a big winger that can score, he’d be a nice fit. Here’s hoping he doesn’t leave Cbus.

  3. groess - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:31 PM

    Wow. To me that translates to “I just want to go about my business and collect my big paycheck. I don’t really care if I win or not”.
    I can’t believe after getting a taste of play-off success after all those years in Florida he’d want to go back to one of these non-hockey cities and just ride off into the sunset.

    • chanceoffleury1 - Jul 4, 2013 at 12:31 AM

      He won a Cup. For so many great players, that is the only short coming of otherwise successful careers. It’s nice to win more than one, but if you win it once you can be more flexible with the rest of your career. You don’t have to worry about being an asterisk player, you can just do whatever you want. And Columbus almost made the playoffs this year. Had they had a guy like Horton and Gaborik the entire season they might have surpassed the Wild and landed the final spot. Or perhaps he just doesn’t want to be a small fish in a big pond anymore. He wants to be a big fish in a small pond. If he goes somewhere like Columbus, they don’t have as big of a fanbase as Boston, but pretty much all of their fans will love everyone who helps the team. I can say that as a Pens fan who liked the team pre-2006, I understand where Columbus is right now. I feel like that’s always why I’ve had a special place in my heart for guys like Fleury and Malone and Orpik. They provided bright spots in an otherwise dark era for the franchise. I respect them more for being a building block of the primary foundation, as opposed to somebody like Neal who has simply accessorized an already lavish piece of work. Maybe Horton just wants to be a bigger piece of somebody’s puzzle. Columbus has a lot of young talent in the system, a new GM, and next year they will be playing in a great division. They aren’t totally inept.

      • spitfisher - Jul 4, 2013 at 8:17 AM

        Well when you really think about it, yes he was part of the team winning the cup, but keep in mind he was off ice due to injury for most of it. But back on topic wouldn’t you want to play for a team that is virtually guaranteed to make the playoffs and go deep like the bruins. I smell paycheck and an easy ride for the future, perhaps even he knows he’s one hit away from palooka ville.

  4. pens5829 - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Sure it has nothing to do with the fact Boston holds down 3rd place in the Top 20 snobbiest cities in the USA…

    • dboldave - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:55 PM

      This is hysterical! I doubt Horton was known to stroll the streets of Boston looking for random citizens to chat about the state of things. The mental picture is hilarious though so thanks for that!

      And if you are going to use a news site for your “factual data” I’d probably go with something other than CNN. Not exactly the best name in news these days!

    • dudermcrbohan - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:44 PM

      still mad the bruins swept the pens, eh?

      • pens5829 - Jul 4, 2013 at 9:29 AM

        Not at all dude. Sh@t happens. Was happy to see Chicgo win though. Man that must suck to give up two goals in 17 seconds and piss the cup away?

    • supercoop8 - Jul 4, 2013 at 11:28 AM

      Qualifying factors were “tech-saviness”, “highbrow cultual offerings like classical music, artisanal coffeehouses, good looking locals, trendy food trucks, eco-consciousness, and smart people. I am pretty sure these are not the reasons Horton left.
      I am also pretty sure it is the Boston media that from the cup win till before these past playoffs have hammered him sixteen hours a day on the radio, while his play was also constantly dissected by local papers and other beat writers. The guy just wants to be left alone a bit, play some hockey.

      • supercoop8 - Jul 4, 2013 at 11:29 AM


  5. pastabelly - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:40 PM

    This whole Horton thing is too weird. There’s probably another story that hasn’t come out. Good luck to Nathan in any case.

  6. dutchman1350 - Jul 3, 2013 at 8:55 PM

    Would be a great fit in Cbus. Something to be said about having a private life. Columbus certainly offers that and a less expensive cost of living.

    • tombradymvp - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:38 PM

      Cbus? Really? Grow up

    • spitfisher - Jul 4, 2013 at 2:04 PM

      Less expensive cost of living, meaningful for a multi-millionaire.

      Puh lease!

      • contraryguy - Jul 5, 2013 at 9:48 AM

        Right, because pro athletes are so good at holding onto every dime of that contract money.

        Location aside, the Jackets need a guy like Horton; it sounds like Horton needs a team like Columbus. Let’s get these two together.

  7. jameswestphal - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:02 PM


  8. giantssb42champs - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:16 PM

    Why is it so hard to believe that maybe he just doesn’t like Boston? Or maybe the northeast in general?

    • dudermcrbohan - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:52 PM

      totally possible. If anything, I would venture a guess that the media has something to do with it. I don’t know what the coverage is like in Columbus, but i doubt they put the pressure on a person the way a Boston/New York media market does.

      He probably still wants to win and be in contention, but the media hounds likely put more of a strain on him than he wants to deal with. Probably wants to play hockey and not have mics shoved in his face all day. I can understand that.

  9. mj1783 - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:18 PM

    As a former CBJ season ticket holder and a fan of the team since day 1, I can understand everyone’s assumption that this team won’t win or be competitive. But keep in mind they’ve got a new GM, created a new position for John Davidson, and have made moves to make this team better, and yes, that includes the Rick Nash deal. No more standing around watching one guy play the game. Expectations within the organization are higher than ever and accountability seems to be there for the first time ever. I’m not saying they’re gonna win the Cup, the Conference, or the division. I’m not saying they’ll make the playoffs just yet. But let’s not assume that the fans don’t care and the players that come to play here don’t want to win. They’re gonna be a thorn in people’s sides, pushovers no longer.

  10. illadelphiasphinest - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:27 PM

    He should go to Arizona. They have a good hockey team but nobody shows up to watch. Cant ge much quiter then that… Sounds like a match made in hockey heaven.

    • jcmeyer10 - Jul 4, 2013 at 8:17 AM

      He gets interviewed by one local reporter after the game. And it’s a high school kid on an internship to pad his college resume.

  11. beaver15 - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    Honestly had CBJ made it into top 8 in Western Conference playoffs in 2013, they would’ve given CHI a run for it’s money. Bobs was hot, the team down the stretch was playing fantastic hockey. Minnesota was playing brutal down the stretch, then decided the last few games to show up. CBJ playing in East next season will be interesting. Horton would visit Boston what, 4 times?

  12. jacketsfan7 - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:51 PM

    I’m shocked , never would I have thought Horton would have any interest in Cbj , but he hasn’t signed yet so I’m not celebrating yet

  13. jacketsfan7 - Jul 3, 2013 at 9:52 PM

    @beaver14 yes , he’d visit 4 times

  14. dboldave - Jul 3, 2013 at 10:21 PM

    I honestly think Horton was upset that the Bruins didn’t try to extend him sooner. I would have liked to see him stay but I hope he has success wherever he ends up because he was a big part of the Bruins postseason success.

    • nhstateline - Jul 4, 2013 at 6:59 AM

      I agree. I also think this is all on him. The Bruins didn’t make him an offer because of what he had played like during the regular season, the last playoffs and the regular season before that. He didn’t exactly sell himself. He was great in this playoff run but what had he done before that recently to deserve big money ? Whoever gets him needs to accept the fact that he disappears for months at a time during the regular season and can do the same thing in early round playoff games. If the team can get to a game 7 or the later rounds he’s money. Before that, depends on what else is on his mind.

  15. zannjusktagg - Jul 3, 2013 at 11:24 PM

    You know Carolina has great barbecue…

    • jcmeyer10 - Jul 4, 2013 at 8:15 AM

      Someone’s ears in Memphis and Kansas City just perked up and they don’t know why.

  16. mrpinkca - Jul 4, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    It’s good to see stuff start to finally break in Columbus’s direction. The fans have certainly earned some good luck at this point.

  17. ray2013 - Jul 4, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    Capgeek says that Columbus has $7.9 million in cap space. So presumably they could afford to pay his asking price. I don’t know what’s wrong with that.

  18. matt14gg - Jul 4, 2013 at 7:39 AM

    His wife wanted out of Boston. She wants to live in a warmer climate. That’s the bottom line.

    • nhstateline - Jul 4, 2013 at 10:47 AM

      she wanted sunnier too. Wait until she spends January in Columbus. And it is cold there but in a different way than Boston. I’ve lived in both and liked both cities but I liked Boston’s weather better, especially in the winter. Way sunnier.

  19. jcmeyer10 - Jul 4, 2013 at 8:14 AM

    Don’t blame him one bit but we can’t pay him what he wants…

  20. unclemilo - Jul 4, 2013 at 9:27 AM

    I hope he considers my Islanders , he’d be a perfect fit.

  21. pupinabox - Jul 4, 2013 at 11:58 AM

    Maybe he is considering things like taxes, cost of living, crime rate, no toll roads (seriously? Pay to drive on a road built with tax money), or urban congestion. All this “fans don’t care in Columbus” and “non sports market” talk is amusing. There is a little thing here we call Ohio State football that proves that if you win here, they will come. Next time the Patriots draw 110,000 for a game let me know.

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