A player can get nervous as they prepare for their National Hockey League debut.
In the case of Brian Boyle, there wasn’t any time for that. Photo Gallery
“I was worried I wasn’t going to even make it to the game,” Boyle recalls. “I was really excited about my first game, but this was not exactly how I wanted it to start. I think in the end it helped out, it kind of calmed my nerves, I wasn’t thinking too much about the game.
So instead of worrying about his play, Boyle was just worried about getting to the game on time.
“I just knew I had to get there, stretch out quickly and get my gear on.”
Boyle was recalled from Manchester on an emergency basis after injuries to Ladislav Nagy and Scott Thornton decimated the Kings front line.
Only Boyle got the call around 1 p.m. for a 7 p.m. game, and he was was in Manchester, N.H., and the team for which he was to play that night was in Newark, N.J., as the Kings prepared to play the New Jersey Devils.
The Monarchs were scrambling to get Boyle to where he needed miles to the South west.
A flight was out of the question, so a black Lincoln Town car and driver were booked, and his journey to the NHL, which began at such an early age, was so close to being realized.
But just to add a few more twists in this journey, the driver got lost.
So Boyle, set to make his NHL debut, arrived at the Prudential Center about five minutes before game time.
“Everyone was already on the ice,” Boyle said. “There wasn’t much time to talk, but everyone was supportive. Guys were just trying to make light of [his trip to New Jersey] to help settle me down.”
Well it appeared to work.
Boyle tallied a goal at 8:38 of the second period to cut the Kings deficit to 2-1, taking a great pass from Jeff Giuliano, parked behind the Devils’ net, as Boyle cut toward the goal. Giuliano’s pass hit Boyle right on the tape and he beat future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur over his right shoulder. 700K
“It was a pretty cool goal. Guiliano (who played with Boyle at Manchester) made a great pass right on my tape,” he recalled. “I found myself open and I shot it as quickly as I could,
“I didn’t want to hang on to it too long.”
Four minutes later, the Kings scored to cut the deficit to 3-2, with Boyle again right in the middle of it. 700K In a play that resembled his earlier goal, but this time it was Boyle who hit Jack Johnson as he rushed to the Devils net and like that, Boyle had his first NHL assist and his first NHL multi-point game, but the Kings fell, 6-3.
“It was cool to get the goal in my first game. We crawled back into it and made it close, but then they scored again to put it out of reach. It is frustrating, just being competitive and playing sports, you always want to win.
“It was a tough loss and wasn’t the way you want to start anything, but when all is said and done, it was definitely neat to be there.”
Getting there was an interesting journey for the 6-6 Boyle.
He was selected by Kings in the first-round (26th overall) in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the same draft in which the Kings selected Dustin Brown. Brown is now in his fourth season with the Kings while Boyle completed his eligibility at Boston College, leading the Golden Eagles to the Frozen Four his senior year.
He made his professional debut with the Monarchs against the Worcester Sharks on April 14, 2007 playing in two regular season games before the playoffs began.
In Game Two vs. the Worcester Sharks, he recorded his first professional point, an assist, while scoring his first goal, on the power play, the following night against the Sharks on April 21, 2007. The biggest goal he scored, however, was the game-winning goal in double overtime to earn the Monarchs their first playoff series victory, knocking out the Sharks four games to two.
Boyle, who had played both defense and center, moved to the blueline as the Kings opened training camp for the 2007-08 season.
Sent to Manchester, Boyle tallied 21-22=43, playing half of the season on defense before making the move back to forward, being named the AHL Rookie of the Month for January.
“I looked at is as a challenge to convert to a defenseman,” he said. “It was all for the best. I love being a forward, but I got a better understanding of defense.
“I will go where they ask me to go. My goal is to get to the NHL, it doesn’t really matter how I get there.”
As long as he gets there, right?