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Boyle still possible for Devils opener

Center was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia on Sept. 19

by Tom Gulitti @TomGulitti / NHL.com Staff Writer

WASHINGTON -- Although center Brian Boyle missed the entire preseason, it remains possible he'll achieve his goal of playing in the New Jersey Devils regular season opener.

The Devils announced on Sept. 19 that Boyle was diagnosed with a chronic myeloid leukemia, a type of cancer of the bone marrow that is largely treatable with medication. Boyle said that day he was still aiming to play in the Devils' first regular season game against the Colorado Avalanche at Prudential Center on Oct. 7 (2 p.m. ET; SN, MSG+, ALT, NHL.TV).

"There's a possibility," Devils coach John Hynes said after a 4-1 win against the Washington Capitals in their preseason finale at Capital One Arena on Wednesday. "Brian will be back with us starting [Thursday] and then we'll just kind of see where he goes over the next week. But nothing has been ruled out yet."

Boyle has been skating on his own and with extra players while going through treatments, but has yet to join the Devils for a full practice. Hynes said he didn't know if Boyle would participate when the Devils practice on Thursday. Boyle will join them on their three-day team-building trip to West Point, New York, which begins on Sunday.

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Hynes said if Boyle can begin practicing by early next week, he should have enough time to get game ready.

"I think with Brian, he knows really when he's ready," Hynes said. "We're not going to rush him. If he is ready and he can get a full week of practice in, that's probably fine. He's not going to get a preseason game, so no matter what he's going into a regular season game [first]. If he's back with us next week, we're going to have some very intense practices and if he gets a full week, I have a pretty strong feel he'll be ready to go.

"But we'll just discuss it with him and see where he's at."

Boyle, 32, signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Devils as an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Even after receiving his diagnosis, he remained optimistic that he'd be back playing soon.

"For us, we're in a good spot," he said on Sept. 19. "We think we have a good plan of attack here and I'm looking forward to getting on the ice and playing. When that happens, I don't know, but my mindset is Oct. 7. I don't like missing games."

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