GLENDALE – Coyotes Radio Analyst Nick Boynton is scheduled to appear at a hockey camp designed specifically for young players with diabetes on Friday to help educate them on how to manage their blood sugar levels, through nutrition and exercise, while remaining competitive in hockey.
The event is called DSkate Milton and it's being staged at the Milton Sports Center in Milton, Ontario.
"The camp is not just about hockey," Boynton said. "It's about the kids getting to meet other hockey players with Type 1 diabetes and to let them know that there are other kids in the same situation out there. At the same time, they'll get a good education on how to take care of themselves, and their parents will get a good education on how to take care of the kids."
Boynton, who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a 19-year-old, played 605 games in the NHL from 1999-2011. He was an NHL All-Star in 2004 and he won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2009-10. Last year he began his broadcasting career as a radio analyst for the Coyotes.
In addition to educating the young players on how to manage hockey and diabetes, the DSkate program also aims to build confidence in players who may feel left out or isolated because of their condition.
"It's hard," said Boynton, who will interact with the 80 players on and off the ice. "When I was diagnosed I didn't know a lot about the disease, and when you're diagnosed you're scared about what it may limit you from doing later on down the line. This is definitely a good place where these kids can get confidence because they get to see that other kids have managed it, and they get to see that there are people like myself out there who still got to realize their dream and play hockey at a high level and that it didn't stop me. It's all about having fun and coming away with a better feeling about it."
Boynton isn't the only hockey player with diabetes with ties to the Coyotes. Prospect Max Domi was diagnosed when he was 12 years old, and he has worn No. 16 throughout his hockey career as an homage to former Philadelphia Flyers captain Bobby Clarke, who, like Boynton, thrived in the NHL while managing diabetes.
"For me, it's actually been a blessing in disguise," Domi told the Globe and Mail. "I've basically had to change my eating habits in order to stay healthy while trying to be a professional hockey player at the same time."
Diabetes is a metabolic disease in which the body's inability to produce any or enough insulin causes elevated levels of glucose in the blood.