|Dan Boyle will make his first trip back to Tampa, a mere 116 days after being traded to the San Jose Sharks. Boyle has registered six points in his first seven games with San Jose. (AP Photo/Mark Avery) |
spent six seasons with the Tampa Bay Lightning, raising the Stanley Cup over head in 2004.
Following the 2007-08 season, however, Boyle was unceremoniously traded, along with teammate Brad Lukowich, to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for defensemen Matt Carle, Ty Wishart and two draft picks (first-round pick in 2009, fourth-round pick in 2010). While the change in scenery has certainly given Boyle a new lease on life, emotions will be high on Saturday when the 32-year-old Ottawa native pays a visit to his former home.
"I'll never forget the people who were in Tampa during my six seasons there," Boyle told NHL.com. "It was great. I think it'll be a little emotional going back there since I did spend a lot of time there and won a Stanley Cup. I'll just need to try and stay as focused as I can, go out and play hard and hope for the best.
"The bottom line is I'm with a team that's happy to have me and, honestly, I've been treated with nothing but respect. They just welcomed me with open arms since the moment I got here and it's been great."
Lukowich, Boyle's defensive partner in San Jose, is also more than willing to offer a helping hand.
"If you look across at (Tampa Bay's) roster, there are not a lot of guys left from the Cup team, but it's emotional any time you play against a former team," Lukowich said. "From my point of view, I've had to go through this several times in my career so it's nothing new to me; I'm used to it. It's not something you want to get used to, but something I've dealt with in the past. It'll probably be a little more meaningful for Dan (Boyle) for obvious reasons, so if I can help him and answer any questions or just try and keep him calm and ready for the game, that's the best thing I could do."
The 32-year-old Lukowich, who has won Stanley Cups with Dallas (1999) and Tampa, is playing for his fifth NHL team. In 59 games for Tampa Bay last season, he led the club with 153 hits and ranked third with 108 blocked shots.
The addition of Danny was a key. If you watch him closely, he's a perfect example of how a defenseman needs to play in our system. He brings the puck up ice, looks guys off and finds a way to get guys the puck at the last second. - Rob Blake
In 523 career games during eight NHL seasons with Tampa Bay and Florida, Boyle posted 76 goals, 292 points, 34 power-play goals and 338 penalty minutes. In 45 career playoff games, all with the Lightning, he has 19 assists, 22 points and a plus-6 rating. Boyle, originally signed by Florida as a free agent in '98, was named to the NHL's Second All-Star Team in 2006-07 when he finished second among defensemen in the League with 20 goals and fourth with 63 points. He also represented Team Canada at the 2005 World Championships and the 2006 Olympics.
Sharks coach Todd McLellan is certainly glad Boyle is in the mix along his stellar blue line.
"First of all, everyone zeroes in on his ability to create, but I'm impressed with his ability to play the minutes that he does and continue to go up and down the ice," McLellan said. "His conditioning is really good, he has good stamina and can play late into a shift and still be really effective. He's got good vision and a good panic threshold. By that I mean he can hold on to the puck and wait out the opposition until the very last second. He can create opportunities."
Veteran defenseman Rob Blake, who signed a one-year contract with the Sharks in July, has also been impressed with Boyle's competitive verve.
"The addition of Danny was a key," Blake said. "If you watch him closely, he's a perfect example of how a defenseman needs to play in our system. He brings the puck up ice, looks guys off and finds a way to get guys the puck at the last second. He's been very involved and that's one of the main reasons they went out and got him. He has a presence back there at the point."
"At the time of the trade, this certainly wasn’t a team that was at the bottom of the standings," Boyle said. "We (Lukowich and Boyle) came to a team that was second in the League last year so the goal coming in was to first get through the grind of a regular season and then deal with the playoffs. But certainly anything short of a Stanley Cup would probably be disappointing. Those are big expectations but I think the guys here are ready to tackle them."
Boyle's first goal as a member of the Sharks came Oct. 19 when he connected in overtime to give San Jose a 5-4 victory against the Philadelphia Flyers. He had a productive 3-point night in the triumph.
"I just wanted to get involved offensively and I knew who was on the ice," Boyle said. "Four-on-four, there's a lot of ice."
While McLellan realizes Saturday's game against Tampa Bay certainly has meaning to Boyle, he's confident the veteran will be mentally ready.
"It's exciting, nervous and hard when you go back to play your former team, especially with the roots Dan had in Tampa," McLellan said. "I'm not sure how he departed Tampa as far as relationships or anything like that, but I can tell we're certainly glad to have him on our hockey club right now."Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com.