Has there been a more remarkable story in the NHL this season than Brian Boyle? I’ll go ahead and answer that question. No, there hasn’t. Not even close.
New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle became one the league’s biggest headlines when he showed up to training camp ready to begin a new season with a new team. However, when he took his mandatory physical, something was terribly wrong.
It was cancer. Boyle’s blood work came back negative and he was diagnosed with chronic myelogenous leukemia. While this news shocked Boyle, his family, the Devils, and the entire hockey world, the silver lining here was that this cancer is treatable with medication. With that medicine and the power of faith and prayer, Boyle vowed he would get better and play hockey again, and he did.
On November 1, 2017, after being out for roughly a month, Boyle took the ice again to an ovation from fans, and on November 9, he scored his first goal as a Devil, which he celebrated with joyous emotion. Witnessing that moment had fans everywhere emotional too, inspired by the courage and perseverance Boyle displayed. I know it made me tear up.
Since his return to the lineup, Boyle has been a mainstay on the Devils fourth line, doing his duties as big, physical checking forward, while being a part of some clutch game-winning plays. His strong play and leadership, along with his story, have made him a fan favorite in New Jersey, and the rest of the Devils’ players continue to rally behind him as they push for the playoffs.
Despite constant attention from the media, Boyle has remained humble this season, continuously stating that he’s blessed and thankful for the opportunity to continue playing, and how his goal is to help the Devils win the Stanley Cup. The NHL decided to honor and reward Boyle for his courageous efforts by naming him as the Devils representative in the All Star Game in Tampa, replacing the injured Taylor Hall.
As expected, Boyle got the biggest ovation at Amalie Arena Saturday night when the All Star rosters were being announced. Those ovations will continue as he finishes what has already been a remarkable season. When the NHL presents its annual awards at the end of the season, Boyle will likely be the recipient of the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, which is presented to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.
I used to despise Brian Boyle when he played for the New York Rangers, but no more. I don’t think there’s a single person in the hockey world who doesn’t love Boyle and his story. He has reminded us all that we need to stand united in the fight against a terrible disease that claims the lives of many every year. We are all Boyle Strong.