Hartnett: Dan Boyle Out To Prove He’s Still Got It With Rangers
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By Sean Hartnett
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Newly signed Rangers defenseman Dan Boyle isn’t feeling the pressure ahead of the latest — and perhaps greatest — challenge of his impressive career.
“I enjoy the pressure,” Boyle said Monday. “You have to prepare for that. I’ve already been forewarned. I’ve been in pressure situations before, with Stanley Cup finals and Olympic gold medal games. I actually thrive on it.”
On Saturday, Boyle will be celebrating his 38th birthday. He’s heard all the common criticisms about defensemen entering the twilight of their careers. The upcoming 2014-15 season will be his 16th year in the NHL. Many hockey pundits have questioned how much Boyle has left in the tank after he experienced a tough final season in San Jose.
Boyle finished the 2013-14 regular season with 12 goals and 24 assists for 36 points. He was a minus-eight. These are atypical numbers for a dominant, two-way defenseman, who is renowned for his offensive savvy and ability to quarterback a power play. Boyle generally hovers between 50 to 60 points per season.
He attributed last season’s drop-off in production to the lingering effects of a concussion. Boyle doesn’t buy the idea that age has caught up to him.
“Last season was unique,” Boyle said. “Obviously, I had the concussion six or seven games in. I had a rough three months where I probably wasn’t myself. A lot of people were saying it was the age factor, but I don’t buy that for a second. I keep myself in really good shape and I think anybody who watched the games down the stretch would see that I was back to myself.”
Boyle wants to be a difference-maker for a Rangers team that expects him to be just that on the power play.
“The power play was one of the spots where I hope to come in and help,” Boyle said. “It’s something I’ve been doing for many years now. Hopefully, I can help out and improve it.”
“I’m not looking to go out as a guy playing in and out (of the lineup) a few minutes,” he added. “I’m not going out like that. I’m going to make a difference. I’m one of those guys who wants the puck, wants to make plays and wants to play. That’s what I’m hoping for.”
BOYLE EMBRACING NY; EXCITED FOR REUNION WITH ST. LOUIS
In 2004, Boyle was able to capture his first career Stanley Cup as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightning alongside current Rangers teammate Martin St. Louis. Boyle admitted that the prospect of reuniting with St. Louis “was a big factor” in his decision to join the Rangers.
The pair had kept in touch over the years and throughout the playoffs.
“Him and I kept in touch,” Boyle said. “It started unfortunately with the passing of his mom. Obviously, (we) talked through that and with him going to the finals.”
Boyle also reached out to ex-Ranger Brad Richards. Despite having been bought out by the Rangers, Richards had only good things to say about the organization.
“I talked to Richie also,” Boyle said. “Obviously, that was a little bit of a tougher conversation. One minute, you’re in the finals, a week later you’re looking for a new team. But he had nothing but great things to say about the organization and the team, which was good to hear.”
Boyle said the Rangers were always a team that intrigued him.
“Once I found out I was done in San Jose, that’s the team that jumped out as the team I’ve always been curious about,” Boyle said. “New York was just where I wanted to go. You can make more money elsewhere. At the end of the day, you’ve got to be happy.”
The 37-year-old admitted that Madison Square Garden was always his favorite away arena. Now, he’ll have the chance to call MSG his home for the next two seasons.
“We do have these questionnaires every year,” he said. “For 15 years, they’ve ask you for your favorite arena to play in. Obviously, aside from the team that you’re on, Madison Square Garden was always my favorite arena to play in. It’s just a unique building. That’s another reason I wanted to come here, to get to play in MSG. It’s a famous building.”
Boyle turned down larger offers than the two-year, $9 million deal he signed with the Rangers. The Detroit Red Wings reportedly made stronger offer and Boyle admitted that the Islanders made a run for his services.
“They made a big push and a lot of effort,” Boyle said of the Islanders. “It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go to go there. It’s just that I wanted to go to the New York Rangers. At the end of the day, I wanted to be on an Original Six team, and the Rangers were the team I wanted to go to.”
Boyle believes that joining the Rangers gives him the best chance to add a second Stanley Cup ring to his collection.
“I’m there to win hockey games,” Boyle said. “Obviously, the ultimate goal is to win the Cup. That’s what I’m there for.”
Follow Sean on Twitter @HartnettHockey.
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