NHL.com's weekly Q&A feature called "Five Questions With ..." is back for the 2013-14 season. We talk to key figures in the game today and ask them questions designed to gain insight into their lives, careers and the state of their teams.
The latest edition features San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle:
Dan Boyle has only known regular-season success and Stanley Cup Playoff disappointment in his five seasons with the San Jose Sharks. The combination has made his time in the Silicon Valley exciting, interesting and frustrating all at once.
As Boyle heads into the final year of a six-year contract, the defenseman with a Stanley Cup championship ring and an Olympic gold medal is hopeful that his team in teal can finally skate its way to the Stanley Cup Final after being ousted in the Western Conference Semifinals last season.
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Boyle spoke to NHL.com about his expectations, his goals, his contract situation, when he wants to finish his career, where and why.
Here are Five Questions With … Dan Boyle:
Expectations are the same for your team and yet you guys haven't hit all the goals yet. Are your expectations for this club the same as usual, meaning Stanley Cup or bust? If so, are your reasons any different than they have been in the past?
"Yeah, they [the expectations] are the same and no [the reasons aren't different] because it's the same core of the team. We've gotten to the [Western Conference Final] twice. We've made the playoffs the five years I've been here. Last year, I felt after we got bounced in the second round that it was probably the most complete team effort that I've seen since I've been here and that's really why they didn't make any changes in the offseason with the exception of [Tyler] Kennedy. It's pretty much the same team coming back and I think everybody was really happy with the way they played down the stretch. Had it not been for [Los Angeles Kings goalie] Jonathan Quick, we probably come out of that round with a win."
OK, so Jonathan Quick is one reason, but can you pinpoint other specific things that you guys need to change to make a Cup run, things that need to get addressed and fixed to get where a lot of people still think you can get to with this core?
"The first year I got here, we won the Presidents' Trophy and it was a little bit disappointing the way we played in the playoffs because it kind of felt like they didn't really get it, what it took to take it to that next level. I think there has been a huge improvement in that over the last three years. Guys are starting to figure out what it takes. As far as what I'd change, sometimes it's a bounce here and a bounce there. I liked our balance last year, goaltending has to be strong, you need to have four lines -- I mean, this is all the stuff you need to win it. It's really just a matter of doing it now. I wouldn't necessarily change anything; I would just want us to be clicking on all cylinders at the right time."
What can you tell us about any ongoing contract negotiations, and do you worry that any uncertainty regarding that situation could affect your play?
GOALS: 7 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 20
SOG: 97 | +/-: 3
"It's been a while. I've been on a six-year deal and the last time around my contract year was the year when a skate fell off a hook [in the dressing room], came down and slit my wrist so I missed about 45 games that year. That was a whole other situation. You know what? I've made it clear that I want to be here and hopefully they want me around. I still have a lot of miles left in this body. I know people talk about my age, but that's probably from the people that don't know me and have not seen me play, because the people that have, they know that I'm not exactly slowing down any time soon. I want to be here. In a cap world, you've gotta make it work. We'll see what happens, but I'm not too worried about it right now."
How long do you think you can play?
"There's a lot of factors, but if my health is good I think I can probably play until I'm 40. I think a lot of guys get burnt out, but for me you've gotta keep in mind that I've only played around 870 games. It's not like I'm into 1,000 and more. I got off to a late start, so I don't have as many miles as a guy who has been playing since he's 18 or 19."
If that's the case, do you look at this and say this could be your last contract?
"Yes, it could be. I think I've got about three or four more years left in me and I want them to be here. It's a two-way street too. They have to do what they have to do. The thing is I want to play, I want to compete, and I don't see this organization taking a U-turn and going in the opposite way where they are in a rebuild stage. I probably would not want to be around if that were the case. But if all is well, the team is doing well and we're going in the right direction, I would certainly welcome the idea of signing here for the rest of my career."