hasn’t even been in San Jose for three complete seasons, yet, during that time he’s risen to the top of the defensive scoring chart. Twenty years of the Sharks and Boyle’s offensive prowess pushed him to first place in a very short time. That’s a testament to his puck handling skills.
With the points he acquired on the Sharks last road trip, Boyle tied and then passed Mike Rathje as the Sharks all-time leader in points by a defenseman. Rathje accumulated 155 points in his lengthy Sharks career and Boyle now has 156.
|San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) reaches in on Detroit Red Wings center Darren Helm (43) during the first period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2011, in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio) |
Sharks fans voted Boyle the club’s top offensive defenseman ever before the start of this year. Now the stats officially back up what everyone already knew. Boyle was unaware about setting the new Sharks mark until just recently.
“I didn’t even know until last night,” Boyle said, alluding to the fact he had been told he was approaching the mark about a month ago, but forgot about it after that. “I hadn’t thought about it and (Sharks Television Color Analyst) Drew (Remenda) came up on the plane and congratulated me.”
Boyle has a unique place among current National Hockey Leaguers in that he holds the career defenseman scoring record for two clubs.
“We were talking about it last night. I lead Tampa too, which is kind of cool,” Boyle said. “I have two teams that I’m pretty proud of.”
“I think it speaks well of Dan’s skill set and his commitment to both organizations,” Head Coach Todd McLellan said.
Defensemen points can go hand-in-hand with the forwards production as both feed off each other. Boyle’s presence has assisted players like Joe Thornton
, Vincent Lecavalier, Patrick Marleau
and Martin St. Louis, while at the same time their talents have allowed Boyle to shine on the other side. Boyle extends an appreciation to all of his teammates.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to be surrounded by good players,” Boyle said.
Boyle also has been graced with coaches who allow him to use his talents. In some NHL systems, there is little to no room to skate outside the standardized lines. That wasn’t the case in Tampa Bay and nor is it now in San Jose. Thus it’s no surprise that Tampa’s lone Stanley Cup came with Boyle logging a lot of minutes and that the Sharks reached their second Western Conference Finals in Boyle’s second season.
“Obviously the coaches I’ve had in Tampa and here have allowed me to play the game I want to play,” Boyle said. “If you don’t have that backing, which is a little of the scenario I had in Florida, you certainly can’t do what you do. I’m fortunate and thankful.”
|San Jose Sharks Dan Boyle (22) controls the puck as Florida Panthers Jack Skille (15) defends the play during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Sunrise, Fla., Sunday, Feb. 13, 2011. The Panthers won 3-2. (AP Photo/Steve Mitchell) |
The trust between a coach and a player can be hard to earn as skaters trying to break in can often be viewed as better if they’re safer. It’s hard to always tell with younger players, but that “risky” play isn’t always so risky with the right person making the decisions.
“I believe that’s where it’s hard to break into the League for a smaller, offensive-type defenseman,” McLellan said. “It’s hard to gain a coach’s trust to the point where you’ve established yourself and you feel good about playing your game. Danny was afforded that luxury in Tampa Bay. (Then Tampa Bay Coach) John Tortorella really believed in this guy and Danny proved him right. Coming here, we believe in what he does.”
There’s no doubting Boyle now as what would be a risk to many is almost a routine play for a skater with Boyle’s vision.
“His margin for error is maybe a little wider than some others because he’s a creative player,” McLellan said. “Sometimes his gamble is going to be the wrong one, but most of the time it’s going to be correct. You don’t see him make repetitive mistakes. He learns from it the first time. That’s the sign of a pretty intelligent player.”
Even as the points continue to rack up for the NHL All-Star, Boyle will never turn his back on the defensive side of the ice.
“I take a lot of pride in my defensive game,” Boyle said. “As an offensive defenseman, some guys will kind of slack in their own end. I love playing against the top lines. I love killing penalties. I love being out there the last two minutes. I take my defensive zone coverage very seriously.”
“He will always be recognized for his ability to move the puck and run the power play,” McLellan said. “His competiveness, his leadership and his fire on the ice are his best qualities.”
Boyle is far from done with his career and with another three years left on his current contract, he may be setting a new defenseman points mark that will be around for the Sharks 40th anniversary season.
“We’re happy to have him and he’s got a lot of years left,” McLellan said.
San Jose plays hosts to Minnesota Thursday at 7:30 p.m. and tickets can be found at www.ticketmaster.com and at the HP Pavilion Ticket Office. The contest will be on CSN California, 98.5/102.1 KFOX and www.sjsharks.com.