Bo Horvat had a great time on the ice in the NHL playoff bubble.
Scoring a league-high 10 playoff goals to help the Canucks make a surprise run to the second round, the 25-year-old was outstanding in the second playoff appearance of his career.
But off the ice, Horvat admitted, it was harder than anticipated.
The Canucks spent nearly six weeks in Edmonton, relegated to the rink, their hotel, and a few other nearby designated spots.
Family members were not allowed in the bubble, which was hard on everyone, but especially Horvat. His wife Holly gave birth to their first child in late June, and by July 13 the Canucks captain had rejoined his teammates on the ice in Vancouver for training camp.
Holly and newborn baby boy Gunnar stayed back in Ontario.
“It was tougher than I thought, mentally, being away from your family and not knowing when you were going to see them,” said Horvat. “Would I do it again? I don’t know. I think if my family could come and spend that time with us from the beginning I’d have no problem doing it.
“Being away from them for that long was tough. So if we could bring families and be able to see them sooner, that would be definitely a lot better for me.”
Nobody knows exactly what next season will look like, but it’s hard to imagine the NHL opting for a strict bubble environment again.
“It started off great, the more days you spend in the bubble, obviously the harder it does get,” said Canucks defenceman Chris Tanev, who joined Horvat on a Zoom call with reporters. “There’s a lot of highs and lows — you win a game, everyone’s happy and everyone’s together and it’s easy when everyone’s in a good mood. It’s obviously harder after a loss.”
Hockey players get paid millions of dollars to perform on the ice, but that doesn’t make them any less human.
“It was pretty emotional,” Horvat said when asked about what it was like seeing Gunnar for the first time in eight weeks. “I missed my family a lot. I missed him. I couldn’t believe how much he changed already in two months. It was pretty crazy to come back and see him the way he is now.
“Losing was obviously tough, but to know I got to come home and see my family again was really special. I’m just enjoying spending time with him right now.”