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Boyle aiming to erase bitterness of Torino

by Dan Rosen
CALGARY -- Dan Boyle vividly remembers sitting in the stands in Torino with Jason Spezza and Eric Staal. The trio, all extras for Canada's disappointing entry at the 2006 Olympics in Italy, could only watch and wonder as their teammates fell flat, finishing seventh after originally being favored to medal.

Boyle, in fact, admitted to Monday afternoon, just hours prior to the start of Canada's National Men's Team Olympic Orientation Camp, that he is still bitter about his first Olympic experience.

"Had we won, it would have been a little bit easier, but being in the stands, it was just tough for us to watch," Boyle said. "There was nothing we could do. We all wanted to be there, so it was a frustrating thing. When you're in the stands it's always easier from up there, but we're not used to seeing a Canadian team go out like that, especially as early as we did."

Boyle hopes his skills and experience are good enough now that he won't be left sitting in the stands in Vancouver or, worse still, on his couch at home for the 2010 Olympic Games.

The San Jose Sharks' defenseman, now 33, is in Calgary this week looking to impress the powers that be. It's the first hurdle he has to clear in order to play in a tournament he's been thinking about ever since his Torino experience mercifully ended.

"Of course you think about it, but this summer it has really kind of come to reality," Boyle said. "People are talking about it now. It's one of those things I'd like to accomplish before I'm done. I have had to fight for a lot and (playing in the Olympics) would be a great accomplishment for me."

Boyle understands all too well how and when these decisions are made. Like the other 44 players who are skating here this week, Boyle knows he can't win a job with a solid performance, but it certainly can't hurt if he makes a solid impression.

This week, four of the seven defensemen that played for Canada in 2006 are not here.

"I don't know that I'm any more motivated than I would normally be," Boyle said. "I wanted it back in 2006, but it was out of my hands then and it's out of my hands now. All I control is what I do on the ice, partly in this camp, but mainly in what I do in the first half of the season. I hope they can use my skills and what I do out there."

Whether those skills can or cannot is still up in the air. Even the team's decision makers have no idea, or at least won't publicly state that they do.

"I think the competition for jobs and positions in all areas of this team are up for grabs," Canada coach Mike Babcock said. "If you thought for one second that I could tell you who would be on this team, I couldn't do that. Not even close."

Instead of worrying too much about the Olympics, and this camp in particular, Boyle has spent the better part of this summer focusing his attention and motivation to the Sharks and making good on a promise he made to himself upon arriving in the Silicon Valley last summer.

Boyle arrived in San Jose hoping to help the Sharks turn around their playoff fortunes, but after a franchise-best 53-18-11 regular-season record, Boyle and his teammates were unceremoniously knocked out of the playoffs by Anaheim after only six games.

"All year I had to answer questions about coming to San Jose and the playoff failures and I was looking to erase that," Boyle said. "Unfortunately I wasn't able to do that and I take things pretty seriously, so I'm still pretty hissed about the way things ended. I just can't wait to get going again. I'm really looking forward to that."

Patrick Marleau has taken the most heat from the fallout of the Sharks' failed playoff run, surrendering his captaincy. Boyle, who may be one of a few candidates to take over as the Sharks' captain, said he hasn't heard too much about what could or will happen because he's spent his summer in Ottawa, where all he's been hearing are rumors about where Dany Heatley might end up.

"People are talking about it now. It's one of those things I'd like to accomplish before I'm done. I have had to fight for a lot and (playing in the Olympics) would be a great accomplishment for me."
-- Dan Boyle

He did say if Marleau is OK with the organization's decision to strip him of the captaincy than he is OK with it as well. Marleau put on a good face Friday and said he understands why Sharks' GM Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan demoted him.

"It's unfortunate," Boyle said. "It was a first-place team, a Presidents' Trophy team, but when you don't make it past the first round for a few years in a row I guess it's going to cost you. There is no rush right now. Doug has an important decision to make and I don't think he's going to rush into it. I don't want to see anybody go, but I want to have the best team possible at the end of the day."

Both in San Jose with the Sharks and, of course, in Vancouver with Team Canada.

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