There’s no doubt Nathan Horton surprised everyone when he informed the Bruins over the weekend he was walking away from the team in free agency, looking for “a new beginning” somewhere else. As recently as a couple of weeks ago, indications were that the right wing still enjoyed being a member of the Bruins -- and he might have been willing to return to Boston for a little bit less money. But at the end of the day, the playoff hero walked away for a number of reasons that make sense. It’s expected that Horton would have been forced to return to Boston for less money than the $6 million per season that he might net on the open market in unrestricted free agency. The home discount terms surely didn’t sit well with Horton, who appeared to be on his way out the door before his standout postseason performance. Horton’s agent Paul Krepelka told CSNNE.com over the weekend that his client’s decision wasn’t about the money, but in pro sports it is almost always about the money when it comes to career decisions. That goes doubly so for a 28-year-old with a history of concussion issues during his final chance to bag a sizable, long-term free-agent contract. Horton will make a boatload of money based on helping lead the Bruins to a pair of Stanley Cup Finals in three years, and the 15 goals and 36 points he’s posted in 48 career playoff games. But one never got the sense Horton truly loved the attention in a big market like Boston, or truly lived and died with the game of hockey. Horton always answered the bell during the playoffs for the Black and Gold, but oftentimes appeared bored and disinterested during the regular season when things got a little monotonous. That’s normally the sign of a player that doesn’t approach the game with the urgency and emotion that’s required for consistent success. Then there’s the simple fact that Horton still lives in Florida year-round with his wife Tammy and their children, and it’s been said Horton’s wife prefers that he continue his career in a sunnier, warmer climate that’s potentially closer to their Florida residence. So Horton is likely moving on to a locale like Florida or Tampa where he can play in relative anonymity after seeing how the other half live for three years in Boston. That leaves the Bruins looking for a replacement to step into a first-line right-wing role alongside Milan Lucic and David Krejci, a spot that’s pretty critical to Boston’s overall success. “That’ll be tough," Chiarelli said of replacing Horton. "There’s obviously chemistry there. There’s different ways to look at building your lines. You guys have heard about building in pairs, and maybe that's something we look at other than getting an exact replacement for Horton. But to attempt to try and recreate the chemistry, that would be hard. You'd like to have a shooter in that line.
Bruins on the lookout for Horton's replacement
NBC Sports Boston | Jul 2