Dan Boyle Hangs Up the Skates After 17 Years in NHL

Dan Boyle announced his retirement from the National Hockey League during a press conference at the SAP Center in San Jose, California on Wednesday.

Boyle, the five foot nine, 180-pound defenseman played 1,093 games over 17 seasons between the San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, New York Rangers and Florida Panthers.

During the press conference, he mentioned that he has lost track of the number of times he was told that he was too small to play in the NHL, but that on one occasion he particularly remembered what one coach told him.

“He said, “I had an NHL coach tell me, `Grow three inches and gain 20 pounds and you can play for me.’ These are the kind of things that I carried with me, and it helped me get better. It just helped me have the attitude where I am not going to settle for this.”

Boyle went undrafted before beginning his 17-year career that spanned from Florida to Northern California to New York City. He won the Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. Following the 2006-2007 and 2008-2009 seasons he was named a Second Team NHL All-Star.

In 2010, he helped Team Canada take home the gold at the Vancouver Olympics. Six of Boyle’s best seasons came in the Silicon Valley, with the Sharks. He is the Sharks All-Time Leader amongst defensemen, in points (269), assists (201) and second in goals (68) and shots on goal (1,095).

In 2007 he finished fourth in the voting for the James Norris Trophy, for Best Defenseman and finished fifth in 2009.

Sharks general manager, Doug Wilson said of the defenseman, “Huge heart, fortitude and tremendous competitor. 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.”

In addition to being the leading scorer with the Sharks, Boyle, is also the leading scorer amongst Lightning defensemen, with 253 points as well. Only three other defensemen hold that distinction, Paul Coffey (Edmonton Oilers 669 and Pittsburgh Penguins 440), Al MacInnis (Calgary Flames 882 and St. Louis Blues 452) and Scott Niedermayer (New Jersey Devils 476 and Anaheim Ducks 264).

Even after winning a gold medal and a Stanley Cup, Boyle kept going strong because of the snubs.

He said, “Coming out of college, I was undersized and overlooked and all of that stuff, that is kind of what made me what I am today. I had a chip on my shoulder. I probably always will. It is just what makes me, me, and that is probably what allowed me to have the career that I had.”

After four years at Miami of Ohio University, Boyle signed as an undrafted free agent with the Panthers on March 30, 1998. The Panthers then four years later dealt him to their cross state rivals, the Lightning, for a fifth-round, draft pick in the 2003 NHL Draft on January 7, 2002.

That is about the time his career started to kick off. He sat down with head coach John Tortorella, Boyle said he told him, “Can you please trust me? I know I play the game a little differently than most, I know I might be a little risky at times, but I know what I am doing. Just please trust me.”

He added, “That is kind of when my true career took off. He trusted in me. I responded with what was good hockey and what was responsible hockey.”

During the retirement ceremony, Tortorella spoke to Boyle via speaker phone and said, “I do not think you ever received enough credit for what a fierce competitor you were. I witnessed it firsthand. You were the engine of our Stanley Cup team. We do not get to where we go if it is for not what you do at that rover position you had, as far as just doing your thing.”

On July 4, 2008, along with Brad Lukowich he was dealt to the Sharks for Matt Carle, Ty Wishart, a first-round, pick in the 2009 Draft and a fourth-rounder in the 2010 Draft. He helped lead the Sharks to the Western Conference Finals in 2010 and 2011.

Sharks center, Logan Couture said, “He was like a one-man breakout He could skate the puck out of trouble better than most guys that play this game. As a teammate, he was a competitive as they come.”

Boyle believes that he may have even paved the way for more defensemen to use the same attacking style which became his trademark.

He said, “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.’ That to me means more than any points I had or any goals I had. I think I helped change the game a little bit, the position a little bit.”

Following the 2013-2014 season, the Sharks traded his rights to the Rangers, where he signed a two-year deal. He said that he was not “pushed out” of the league this season and still feels he could have physically continued to play.

He did add though, “I think I got mentally burnt out. I think that is what it was. I think I 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 did say that he would like to become involved in the game at some point in the future, but that right now he is happy that he will be able to spend more time with his wife, Amber and their two young daughters.

He said, “It was just getting tougher and tougher to be on the road and away. I just want to be home and be a dad and take care of my kids and be a good family man.”