NEWARK, N.J. -- Brian Boyle had his family alongside him when he took the ceremonial faceoff before the New Jersey Devils played the Vancouver Canucks on Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness Night at Prudential Center on Friday.
Boyle, 32, was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia Sept. 19 and returned to the lineup Nov. 1. He said the evening would have special meaning.
"More so than ever before, I guess," said Boyle, who signed a two-year, $5.1 million contract with the Devils on July 1. "[Cancer Awareness Month] is a great initiative and something extremely important. The majority of us pay attention to this initiative and certainly think it's an opportunity for us to spread awareness and hopefully raise funds.
"From what I've seen in children's hospitals, that's of utmost importance because of what cancer can do to families and to kids and their heartbroken siblings. It's not fair; just devastating. Hopefully, we can demolish this disease."
Boyle was joined by his wife Lauren, son Declan and daughter Isabella and sister Gabrielle.
Also accompanying Boyle at the ceremonial puck drop was Jenifer Guaman, a 13-year-old cancer patient. Other youth patients from the center stood beside Devils starters for the national anthems and participated as Zamboni riders.
Devils players wore lavender jerseys with a "Boyle Strong 11" patch and used lavender-taped sticks during warmups. Boyle scored his second goal of the season in the second period of the Devils' 3-2 win.
Boyle was asked how much of an inspiration Nicholle Anderson, wife of Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson, has been during Hockey Fights Cancer Awareness month.
Video: VAN@NJD: Boyle pots PPG on Hockey Fights Cancer night
Anderson, who is serving as a Hockey Fights Cancer ambassador for the NHL, was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal carcinoma, a rare form of throat cancer, last October; on May 25, she was declared cancer-free.
"She inspires people to have the courage and to be brave," Boyle said. "I don't know much about her background, but she's got here face out there, got her voice out there and she's travelling and certainly helping the initiative and that takes courage."
Boyle was happy to first meet Anderson prior to the Devils' game at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 16.
"The fact she realizes her situation affects more than just her is amazing," Boyle said, "and I think that's obviously a wonderful thing she's doing and certainly inspiring."