VANCOUVER — Who wouldn’t want to have a smiling Nathan Horton — the man who inspired a Twitter emoticon craze gone wild — around to inspire then regardless of what their task was.
That’s why the concussed Bruins power forward has made the trip here to root on his teammates in tomorrow night’s Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final at Rogers Arena against Vancouver.
“I was very happy to see him, and I’m very happy to have him around. I just spent some time talking to him in the locker room. He’s a positive guy,” said goaltender Tim Thomas, who’s known to be pretty positive as well. “His joy for the game and life is kind of like a little kid, and that’s a great thing, and I personally feed off of that.
“So I was happy to see him today. Actually [Monday] night on the screen [at TD Garden], I was so focused I didn’t realize he was up there until near the very end. I looked up, I hadn’t been tapping my stick or anything because I didn’t know what was going on. I’ve heard from my wife that it was pretty emotional when he was up there.”
Horton was injured in the first period of Game 3 and ruled out for the rest of the series the next day due to a severe concussion. He, in fact, did pop up on the Garden Jumbotron during the first period of the Bruins’ emotional Game 6 win, much to the excitement of his teammates and the more than 19,000 packing the house. He won’t be able to provide anything that dramatic for Game 7, but just having him in the dressing room and around the team should help.
“He certainly wanted to be here. We wanted him on this trip,” said head coach Claude Julien. “As you know, when you get this far, you’re a pretty close-knit group. Our guys wanted everybody here and they’ve got it. Marc [Savard] is probably the only one right now that’s not here and his health varies from day to day, week to week. He’s still in our thoughts and he’s part of our hockey club as well.
“We’ve got a lot of guys that are part of this and some of them are here and one of them isn’t.”