Panthers defenseman Nick Boynton spent the last two seasons playing in Phoenix. A draft day trade brought him back East. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Jeff McIntosh)
By Dave Joseph for floridapanthers.com
Panther defenseman Nick Boynton is hungry.
In his first three seasons as a starter in the National Hockey League, Boynton found himself in the playoffs as a member of the Bruins for three consecutive years. It continued a run of success he had experienced as a dominant defenseman in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
But during his last two seasons in Phoenix, the Coyotes failed to make the playoffs. So Boynton is anxious to get back to the post season.
“I want to win,” said Boynton, who June 20 became one of the newest members of the Panthers when he was acquired along with Keith Ballard. “I was fortunate my first couple years in the league. We made the playoffs every year. But I’m not overly proud of the fact I haven’t been back since.
“All hockey players want is a chance to win.”
Boynton will get that chance with the Panthers, a team starving to make the playoffs and entering the 2008-09 season with a new coach in Peter DeBoer and renewed enthusiasm.
The Panthers defense should be one of the strongest in the league this season boasting a top four of Boynton, Ballard, Jay Bouwmeester and Bryan Allen. And Boynton, who DeBoer refers to as a “guy with all kinds of tools,” is excited about returning to the Eastern Conference.
“I’m exciting about coming to Florida,” said the 6-2, 210-pound Boynton. “I’m looking forward to coming back to the east coast. The travel is a little different…there’s just little things that are different. You go to cities like Toronto and New York and Boston, there just seems to be more of a hockey atmosphere in those cities.”
Boynton, 29, comes to Florida with a long resume. Drafted No. 9 overall by Washington in the 1997 Entry Draft, Boynton re-entered the Draft in ’99 and was selected 21st overall by Boston. This came after a four-year junior career in the OHL where he was captain of the Ottawa 67’s Memorial Cup-winning team in 1999 and was also the tournament’s MVP.
It was during that summer, however, while working on his father’s sod farm in Nobleton, Ontario, when Boynton was diagnosed with diabetes before his first training camp with the Bruins.
“It was a little tough at first,” said Boynton, who wears an insulin pump off the ice. “But once we got everything under control, once you get used to it, it’s like second nature.”
Boynton developed as a top four defenseman during his four years in Boston. And although he was bothered by injuries in 2005-06 (knee and shoulder) and 2006-07 (fractured foot), Boynton played 79 games last season and continued his physical style of play.
When asked recently to describe his style of play, Boynton replied; “I try to work hard and be a good teammate. I try to play hard every night. Losing is not something I like. It’s not something anybody likes.”
And that’s what the Panthers are looking for, according to DeBoer.
“Nick was one of the most dominant defensemen in junior hockey during his time in the OHL,” he said. “He’s a big strong guy with all kinds of tools. Has a real gritty attitude and abrasive style, and I think we’ll fit real well with what we’re trying to accomplish.”