SAN JOSE -- Defenseman Dan Boyle lost track of the number of times he was told he was too small to play in the NHL, but he remembers specifically what one coach in the League told him.
"I had an NHL coach tell me, 'Grow 3 inches and gain 20 pounds and you can play for me,'" Boyle, 40, said at SAP Center on Wednesday after announcing his retirement from the NHL after 17 seasons. "These are the kind of things I carried with me, and it helped me to get better. It just helped me have that attitude where I'm not going to settle for this."
At 5-foot-9, 180 pounds, Boyle went undrafted but wound up playing 1,093 regular-season NHL games and 130 Stanley Cup Playoff games for the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers.
Boyle won the Stanley Cup in 2004 with Tampa Bay and was named NHL Second All-Star Team for the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons. He also won an Olympic gold medal with Canada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
Six of Boyle's best seasons in the NHL came with the Sharks. He is their all-time leader among defensemen in points (269) and assists (201), and ranks second in goals (68) and shots on goal (1,095). He finished fourth in Norris Trophy voting in 2007 and fifth in 2009.
"Huge heart, fortitude, tremendous competitor," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said of Boyle, who plans to live in the San Jose area. "And I think the greatest compliment we ever give players is, he was a hockey rat. Nobody loves the game more than this guy. When you throw a group of guys together that love the game, good things are going to happen."
Boyle is the leading scorer among defensemen for the Lightning (253 points) and Sharks. Three other players hold that distinction: Paul Coffey (Edmonton Oilers, 669 points; Pittsburgh Penguins, 440), Al MacInnis (Calgary Flames, 822; St. Louis Blues, 452) and Scott Niedermayer (New Jersey Devils, 476; Anaheim Ducks, 264).
Even after winning the Stanley Cup and an Olympic gold medal, Boyle continued being driven by past snubs.
"Coming out of college, I was undersized and overlooked and all that stuff that's kind of made me what I am today," said Boyle, who played his final two seasons with the Rangers. "I definitely had a chip on my shoulder. I probably always will. It's just what makes me, me, and that's probably what has allowed me to have the career that I had."
Boyle signed with the Florida Panthers as a free agent on March 30, 1998, after four season at Miami (Ohio) University. The Panthers traded him to the Lightning on Jan. 7, 2002, for a fifth-round choice in the 2003 NHL Draft.
Boyle said his career skyrocketed after a meeting he had with Columbus Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella, his coach with Tampa Bay.
"We sat down and I asked him, I said, 'Can you please trust me?'" Boyle said. "'I know I play the game a little differently than most, I know it might be a little risky at times, but I know what I'm doing. Just please trust me.' That's kind of when my true career took off. He trusted in me. I responded with what I thought was good hockey and responsible hockey."
Tortorella talked to Boyle on a speaker phone during his retirement ceremony.
"I don't think you ever received enough credit for what a fierce competitor you were," Tortorella said. "I witnessed it firsthand. You were the engine of our Stanley Cup team. We don't get where we go if it isn't (for) what you do at that rover position that you had, as far as just doing your thing."
Tampa Bay traded Boyle, along with defenseman Brad Lukowich, to San Jose on July 4, 2008, for defensemen Matt Carle and Ty Wishart, a first-round draft pick in 2009, and a fourth-round choice in 2010. He helped the Sharks reach the Western Conference Final in 2010 and 2011.
"He was like a one-man breakout," Sharks center Logan Couture said. "He could skate the puck out of trouble better than most guys that play this game. As a teammate, he was as competitive as they come."
Video: Dan Boyle goes coast-to-coast for breakaway
Boyle believes he paved the way for more defensemen to play that attacking style that was his trademark.
"Two of the best defensemen in the game today, Drew Doughty and Kris Letang, I remember them coming up to me and saying, 'You were the guy I emulated watching when I was younger,'" Boyle said. "That to me means more than any points I had or goals I had. ... I think I helped change the game a little bit, the position a little bit."
After the 2013-14 season, San Jose traded Boyle's negotiating rights to the Rangers, and he signed a two-year contract.
Boyle said he wasn't "pushed out" of the NHL this year and believes he physically could have continued playing.
"I think I got mentally burnt out," Boyle said. "I think that's what it was. I think physically I feel good. If I wanted to, I feel I could play and contribute, but mentally I just got burnt out. About halfway through this past season, I kind of knew."
Boyle said he would like to be involved with hockey at some point in the future, but for now he wants to spend time with his wife, Amber, and their two young daughters.
"It was just getting tougher and tougher to be on the road and away," Boyle said. "I just want to be home and be a dad and take care of my kids and be a good family man."