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.