BOSTON — The Bruins had no idea that when they left the ice tonight after a 4-0 win in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final they’d have a surprise waiting for them.
But sure enough, there was Nathan Horton on hand to present the gaudy celebratory windbreaker, which he won back in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.
Horton was knocked out with a severe concussion in the first period of Game 3 of the Final Monday by a high hit from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome, who received a four-game suspension for the play.
Earlier today, many Bruins said that Horton was feeling better. They obviously didn’t know how much better, especially considering what the organization has seen the likes of Patrice Bergeron and Marc Savard go through in recent seasons.
“He’s a very important person on this team. He’s a good person. To see him healthy was important,” said Rich Peverley, who got the jacket from Horton after scoring twice in the series-tying victory.
After winning Game 3 Monday, the Bruins left the Andrew Ference eBay find hanging in Horton’s locker because he wasn’t around to pass it on. Goaltender Tim Thomas, who also had a windbreaker-worthy performance with a 38-save shutout, was also pleased by Horton’s visit.
“When I personally got to see him in the locker room, you know, I was incredibly happy and it gave me a big boost,” said the netminder. “He was there to pass the jacket on. We didn’t pass the jacket on the last game with him gone. I think the team would have been happy leaving it with Horty for the rest of this series, but he wanted to give it away and keep the tradition going that we’d started.
“So actually he gave it to Peverley, the guy who replaced him on the line.”
Throughout the night, signs were shown wishing Horton well and urging the Bruins to win the game — and the Cup — for their fallen teammate. In the third period, the fans chanted his name.
“Well obviously if you lose a guy, you want to play not just for him but for everybody else,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “But we know he would love to play and it’s just very unfortunate that we lost a player. And so we all are one big family. We play for each other so …”
Horton was on a Conn Smythe pace with eight goals, including three game-winners, before his injury. Even when out of uniform, he’s proved he can contribute to the Bruins’ success.