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Should it be the Big Four for the Tampa Bay Lightning with Dan Boyle? @NHLdotcom

TORONTO (CP) - Dan Boyle has been among the NHL's top offensive defencemen for a few years but the most attention he's ever received was when his house burned down during the 2004 Stanley Cup final.

"I've never seen so many people want to talk to me after that," he said Tuesday with a laugh. "At least I was good for one thing." He's overshadowed on his own team by the Tampa Bay Lightning's Big Three - Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Brad Richards. They're the only players on the cover of their media guide this season.

Well maybe it's time to make it the Big Four.

"We're defined by Vinny, Marty, Richie - but if you don't have someone to get you out of the end zone to get them on the offence, the club really goes nowhere and Danny Boyle has been a big part of that, a huge part of that," said Lightning head coach John Tortorella.

Boyle went into Tuesday night's game with 55 points (15-40) in 70 games, only four points behind Nicklas Lidstrom, the league leader among blue-liners.

"Dan is our No. 1 defenceman and plays a lot of minutes," said Richards. "He's our best offensive defenceman and probably our best defensive defenceman. A lot of teams have a No. 1 defenceman like that but he probably doesn't get the recognition he should for the amount of work he does for this team."

Boyle figures playing in Florida in entire NHL career, first with the Panthers and then the Lightning, has a lot to do with him staying under the radar.

"As great as it is to be in Tampa, it's not hockey central as far as media coverage and that's been part of it," Boyle said. "Also, we've got some big-name players on our team with Vinny and Marty having some great seasons. What are you going to do?"

The fiery Tortorella was livid earlier this season when Boyle wasn't selected to play in the NHL all-star game.

"Dan Boyle should have been an all-star," Tortorella said after his team's pre-game skate at Air Canada Centre. "He wasn't because of league policy of naming players from all teams to the all-star team. So he's been robbed a little bit. ...

"I'm not a big all-star guy, but when it comes to players, this is their trade and Danny works very hard at it as all NHL players do and they want to be recognized. To have a guy left off an all-star team because you have to have someone from each team, it's wrong. Don't call it an all-star team then."

Boyle, who is refreshingly candid, doesn't hide his disappoint at the snub. It hurt.

"Yeah it did," said the 30-year-old Ottawa native. "It wasn't the end of the world and I'll move on. But certainly I believe I was second in (defencemen) scoring at the time, it's just one of those things I would have liked to have added to my career, especially from where I came from.

"It's unfortunate, but it's just kind of been that way for me."

He went undrafted by NHL clubs despite starring in the NCAA at Miami-Ohio and being a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award in 1997-98.

The scouts don't always get it right.

"Not having been drafted has kind of been in the back of my mind, having to prove people wrong," said Boyle. "To think that over the course of some 12 rounds over three years, to not have been drafted was mind boggling."

Tortorella also feels Hockey Canada has overlooked his defenceman, particularly for the Turin Games last February when Boyle only made it as a taxi squad member and never dressed.

"Yeah that was tough, too," said Boyle. "On one hand they had a winning team in the prior Olympics and I don't think they wanted to break that up too much. But I did feel like I could help out, especially with Scott Niedermayer not being there and needing an offensive guy that could move the puck a little bit.

"I wasn't resentful, it was just a little upsetting."

The 2010 Olympics are in Vancouver and he'd be pumped to be part of it.

"I'd love to, to play for your country at the Olympics is a dream of mine," he said. "Hopefully I'll get a chance. I'll just keep fighting along here."

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