Brian Boyle used to be seen by many as one of the “bad guys” of hockey. According to hockeyfights.com, the 32-year-old has 29 career NHL fights, and eight in the AHL. Many brushed him off as just an instigator. In all of his NHL seasons but one, the center’s number of penalty minutes surpasses his number of points by a huge margin. He has never had more than 35 points in one season, and his career high for penalty minutes comes in at a whopping 74. He has played for five teams over about ten years in the league. But right now, the Hingham, Massachusetts native is changing people’s minds.
In mid-September 2017, he was diagnosed with Leukemia. While preparing for training camp, doctors saw some irregularities in his blood, and it was determined. The minute the news was dropped, there was an outpouring of support from all parts of the hockey world. As quickly as the support came in, Boyle was reassuring everyone that he was okay. He told everyone that he felt as close to normal as possible, and all he was focused on was getting to play hockey again and make his debut for the New Jersey Devils. Fast forward to about a month later, in late October 2017, Boyle was already back on the ice.
He began to practice on October 22nd and played his first game this season on November 1st when the Devils faced Vancouver. Nothing significant really happened in that game, but the fact that he was playing was amazing enough. The game ended in a phenomenal, 2-0 shutout victory for New Jersey. He got his first point of the season on November 7th against the St. Louis Blues. While this one was a 3-1 loss for the Devils, it still means so much that Boyle had a hand in setting up the only goal for his team. The next big day for Boyle came on November 9th, this past Thursday.
After a scoreless first five minutes of a home game against the Edmonton Oilers, Boyle shot… and he scored! I was in the building that night, and I can tell you firsthand that the crowd went absolutely insane. The best part, by far, was seeing that Boyle had a look of pure bliss and excitement on his face. Sure, the game ended in a 3-2 overtime loss for New Jersey, but nothing could ruin the happiness of that moment for Brian Boyle and his family. He had finally scored his first goal after his diagnosis, and his first as a New Jersey Devil.
In an interview later that night, he explained that he had never cried after a goal until then. It was evident to everyone that scoring that goal meant the absolute world to him. In the past few months, Brian Boyle went from an overlooked goon with a scoring touch to an inspiration across the country. From all of us at “Puck It Up!”, all the best to Brian Boyle.
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What were you thinking when you saw Brian Boyle score his first goal of the season? What are your thoughts on the strength he has shown thus far? Tweet us your reactions: @PuckItUpBlog.