By Jeff Paterson September 17, 2016
Young centre looking forward to learning the game’s intricacies from two players whose game he’s trying to emulate.
There was excitement in the Horvat household in Rodney, Ont., this summer when news broke that the Vancouver Canucks had added Doug Jarvis to the coaching staff, although Tim Horvat had some work to do to bridge a generational gap, explaining to his son Bo just who Jarvis was, what he’d done during his distinguished NHL career, and how he’d be able to help the third-year centre with all facets of his game.
Jarvis, you see, had already been retired for seven years before Bo Horvat was born.
“My dad knows more than I do and he told me about (Jarvis), and told me he was one of the best two-way guys and defensive centremen who won big faceoffs, and did whatever he could to help the team win,” the younger Horvat said after a recent workout at Rogers Arena.
“That’s something I didn’t know, but it’s great because that’s the kind of player I want to be. I want to be the guy they put out there in key situations.
“Doug had some pretty good offensive numbers. He was just a great all-round hockey player … and I’m happy to have him on the coaching staff now.”
It goes much deeper than the addition of Jarvis for Horvat. With the news earlier this month that Manny Malhotra had rejoined the organization as a development coach and faceoff mentor, Horvat now has two resources to turn to for help with his game.
Although he’s already had plenty of on-the-job training, with 150 NHL contests under his belt, the 21-year-old knows he’s got plenty to learn, and has every intention of soaking up all he can from both Malhotra and Jarvis.
“When you have guys like that who’ve played as many years as they have and been successful as they have, you have to pick their brains,” Horvat said. “It’s the only way you’re going to get better. It’s the only way you’re going to know what to do, and how to approach the game. They both have a great knowledge of the game, and if you have a tool like that around all the time, you definitely have to use it.”
NHL rules stipulate that coaches can’t have any formal interaction with players ahead of training camp. So while Horvat has been introduced to both Jarvis and Malhotra, he hasn’t had a chance to talk X’s and O’s yet. He’s looking forward to working with them, starting next weekend at training camp in Whistler.
“I played against Manny my first year a couple of times and he was definitely one of the toughest guys I faced on the draws,” Horvat said. “To have him in the Canucks organization this year is going to help me out a lot. I skated with him in the summer the first year I got here, but I didn’t get to know him on a personal level.”
Those two will surely get to know each other better as they start to refine Horvat’s already strong two-way game. While he wants to increase his offensive contributions, Horvat knows he needs to shore up his defensive game. He also wants to be a guy the Canucks can lean on to take key draws.
Last season, he led the Canucks in faceoffs taken and faceoffs won and, at 50.9 per cent, was second only to the oft-injured Brandon Sutter (52.5 per cent) in terms of winning percentage in the circle.
As he prepares for the start of the new season, Horvat is excited about the additions to the coaching staff and the impact they will have. He’s also heartened by the overall organizational commitment to help strengthen the hockey club up the middle.
“It just shows how important centremen are and how important guys like Doug and Manny were to their teams and how important we have to be to this team,” he said. “For them to bring in guys like that to guide us and show us the way, it definitely says a lot.”
It was obvious that Tim Horvat approved of the additions to the Canucks staff from Day 1. It sounds now like the son is fully on board, too.