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Devils rally behind Boyle's fight against leukemia

Teammates express faith veteran center will overcome disease

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / NHL.com Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Just when New Jersey Devils goalie Cory Schneider was starting to get back into a rhythm with center Brian Boyle, his old friend, new teammate and neighbor, he was rocked off-kilter by the news of Boyle's cancer diagnosis.

The Devils announced Tuesday that Boyle was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, known as CML, a type of cancer of the bone marrow that is largely treatable with medication.

Schneider, who was teammates with Boyle at Boston College from 2004-07, said he found out about the diagnosis from Boyle before the Devils went public.

Tweet from @RealStamkos91: We are all thinking of you and your family @BriBrows22. There is no doubt in my mind that you will beat this

"We've been spending a lot of time together already," Schneider said. "They live right around the corner from us. We've been getting rides to the rink and the kids have been hanging out with each other. It's been great to see him more, so I think I was as blown away as everyone else. You look at a guy, a pro athlete and a friend, obviously, they seem OK, but to have something like that, it's real heavy, especially with what his father went through." 

Boyle's father, Artie, was diagnosed with cancer in 1999. He defeated it and has been cancer free since. 

"You can't imagine the range of emotions he and his family went through," Schneider said. "Obviously, it's a scary thing and a tough diagnosis, but just the way he's carried himself and the way he's been acting already it seems like he's already beaten it. I know there's still a ways to go and a lot of work to do, but he's got a lot of faith and belief that he's going to get through this and live a normal life, and that's what we can all hope for.

"I know it's been a tough week for him and his family, but the way he's been acting about it, his optimism, it's a great thing to see. It almost makes you feel a bit better about his situation, but it's still a long road ahead and it's a big change in his life."

Tweet from @Bmarch63: Praying for @BriBrows22 for a full and healthy recovery! We're behind you man! #warrior

Dr. Michael Farber, the Devils' sports medicine internist, said they are waiting for information on the best course of treatment. In the meantime, Boyle is trying to carry on as normal.

Schneider said he saw Boyle at Prudential Center on Wednesday and it didn't appear anything was different. Boyle has been skating on his own with skills coach Pertti Hasanen putting him through the workouts. 

Boyle said his goal is to play when the Devils open the regular season against the Colorado Avalanche at Prudential Center on Oct. 7.

"Just with what his family has been through in relation to cancer, they look at it as an obstacle that through hard work and their faith that they can overcome," Schneider said. "Obviously, it's not something you want to go through and deal with, but if you're going to do it, you're going to do it head on and not shy away from it. I think that's what [Brian] does. I think that's his personality."

Forward Jimmy Hayes, also a former Boston College player who is in Devils camp on a professional tryout contract, seconded Schneider's take on Boyle's personality and added that he sees Boyle as a role model because of the way he attacks challenges in his life and how he plays the game.

Hayes, who watched his mother and father survive cancer to be healthy today, said he thinks this diagnosis is something Boyle will overcome.

"Just seeing how hard he works and his compete level, this is just a little minor setback for a guy who will just jump all over this," Hayes said. 

"I think it's just another bump in the road for him. He's always had that mindset that he's going to beat anything."

Tweet from @MichaelDelZotto: Best wishes to my old roomy and big brother @BriBrows22 and his family. There's nothing he can't overcome.

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