After appearing in his first postseason last year — scoring two overtime winners against the Montreal Canadiens in the first round (Games 5 and 7) and the only goal in Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Finals last year against the Tampa Bay Lightning — Nathan Horton will miss the entire 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a concussion.
Returning to the lineup for the start of the 2011-12 season after sustaining a concussion from Vancouver Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, Horton played in 46 games this year tallying 32 points (17 goals, 15 assists) before sustaining another concussion from the hands of Philadelphia Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo back on Jan. 22.
To many, this comes as no surprise due to Horton’s recent history with concussions. However, GM Peter Chiarelli noted that Horton was relieved when he heard he would not play this postseason and can focus on getting healthy.
“He obviously thought that he would ultimately have to agree with [the decision] and he did,” Chiarelli said. ”I think with Nathan, he gets within a group and he looks at his contributions with this past year and last [year's] playoffs and he starts getting anxious and that probably compounds it, too. I think he felt a sense or relief,” Chiarelli continued. “And, again, talking to him over the last couple of weeks, he doesn’t look bad — he looks good actually. But he gets these bouts where the fogginess doesn’t feel right and you have to be very careful.”
It’s no secret that Horton was a vital part to the team’s Cup run and without his heroics the Black and Gold might not have even advanced to the Finals last year. And when he went down in Game 3, the Bruins could have easily caved in. But instead, they fought back and showed their resiliency to set the tone for the rest of the series.
While Horton will be a big loss, Boston has the depth to make up for the loss with guys like Rich Peverley — who will continue to fill Horton’s void on the top line with Milan Lucic and David Krejci — Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin, Chris Kelly, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg and even Chiarelli’s trade deadline additions of Brian Rolston, Greg Zanon and Mike Mottau, just to name a few.
“I think ultimately you want a goal scorer like Nathan; a guy with size who can score and shoot, you want him in the lineup,” said the Bruins GM.
“But our guys adapted to the change and I went into the deadline thinking in the back of my head ‘Boy, I better try and get somebody if Nathan doesn’t come back,’ hoping and thinking he would be back with an oversupply of players if we had to. The team has responded well, and the additions have been good so that’s all we can hope for right now.”