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Hockey Fights Cancer

Boyle using platform with Devils to raise cancer awareness

Center, being treated for leukemia, pledges to be advocate in helping fight disease

by Mike G. Morreale @mikemorrealeNHL / Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle is happy his story is gaining national headlines.

Not so much because he's been able to again play the game he grew to love after being diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) two months ago, but because it will provide others having similar cancer treatments hope for a better future.

"I've been in children's hospitals and have seen young kids and it's really unfair; cancer doesn't fight fair," Boyle said. "We have a platform as athletes to try to encourage and help raise some money that could go into research to help others with different forms of this disease or who have the situation I'm in with easier treatments (with pills) that are less evasive.

"The NHL does a good job with the Hockey Fights Cancer initiative each year. That has helped raise a lot of money and that's what we need to do."

In his fifth game back after getting treatment for his disease, Boyle scored in the first period of a 3-2 overtime loss to the Edmonton Oilers at Prudential Center on Thursday. The raw emotion after his goal was a sight to behold and one Boyle won't ever forget.

Video: EDM@NJD: Boyle pots first goal since cancer diagnosis

"There's stuff going on within our family that made that moment more emotional for me than normal," Boyle said. "There's been an outpouring of people supporting me, but my wife (Lauren) has endured more than people realize."

Boyle has two points (goal, assist), a plus-2 rating, 10 shots on goal and a 55.7 face-off winning percentage in six games. He had a big face-off win against Florida Panthers center Vincent Trochek in his own zone with 1.5 seconds remaining in the Devils' 2-1 victory Saturday. 

Boyle signed a two-year, $5.1 million contract with New Jersey on July 1 after he had 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 75 games for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs last season. Toronto acquired Boyle in a trade with Tampa Bay on Feb. 27. 


[RELATED: Henrique, Devils raising money for men's health]


He was diagnosed with CML after getting a blood test taken during his training camp physical on Sept. 19 and was given clearance to practice Oct. 21.

"My wife called me before the game (against Edmonton), and she had a good feeling about it," Boyle said. "It's as much for her as anyone because we've been through so much. She was the one to bear the brunt of it. She's behind the scenes but allowed me to play even with all the other stresses going on. She's been unbelievable."

Although the Devils lost the game, each player was happy to see Boyle celebrate one of the biggest goals of his career.

"The most amazing thing for me is his attitude through the whole thing," center Adam Henrique said. "He didn't change at all. He's probably the happiest guy in the locker room every day, which makes it great just having him around the room. He's such a presence and has been a leader on every team he's played for."

Boyle, 32, has 171 points (94 goals, 77 assists) in 630 games for the Devils, Maple Leafs, Lightning, New York Rangers and Los Angeles Kings, and 28 points (15 goals, 13 assists) in 106 Stanley Cup Playoff games in 10 NHL seasons.

He said in addition to concentrating on getting better each day, he would like to raise more awareness.

"I'm ready to do my best to be an advocate and raise more awareness, money and funds for this disease because I'm the fortunate one," Boyle said. "All the research that has gone in has given me the opportunity to take a couple of pills every day, with minor side effects. If all goes well, I get to live a normal life."

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