VANCOUVER, Canada (CBSNewYork) — A little more than a month after being diagnosed with cancer, New Jersey Devils center Brian Boyle will return to the ice Wednesday night.
Boyle, signed as a free agent in the offseason, was diagnosed in September with chronic myeloid leukemia, a treatable form of bone-marrow cancer. He returned to practice Oct. 22.
He will be in action when the Devils, off to a surprising 8-2-0 start, visit the Vancouver Canucks (6-3-2). Faceoff is at 10 p.m. Eastern time.
“I don’t know if you can tell, I’m really trying to downplay it right now, just so I can get some sleep this afternoon,” Boyle joked of his return with reporters earlier Wednesday.
“Obviously, it’s a situation you don’t want to be in, but we’ve got a pretty good handle on it, obviously — I’m able to play now,” the former Ranger added.
Boyle, 32, said he has been overwhelmed with the support he’s received.
“The hockey community and the people I’ve come across, it’s very evident that it cares very deeply about the people that are in it, and people are good people,” he said. “It’s a positive thing, a spin I’ve taken from this whole ordeal.”
Devils coach John Hynes said he’s excited about adding a player of Boyle’s caliber to his team.
“A very good player. We’re adding a guy with a ton of experience,” Hynes said. “He’s got lots of size, great competitor, very good in the faceoff circle. So we’re really looking forward to having him back in the lineup. It’s been a long road for him, it’s been a long offseason and then obviously with the cancer diagnosis and his recovery from that, so I know he’s real excited to play.”
Hynes added that Boyle has full medical clearance.
“So now it’s just going to be just seeing how the game goes and what his minutes look like and how he feels throughout the game,” Hynes said.
Boyle said he just wants to fit in nicely with a team that is playing winning hockey.