VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Brian Boyle will make his season debut Wednesday night for the New Jersey Devils after fighting cancer.
“It’s been a long road,” the 32-year-old center said after the Devils’ morning skate at Rogers Arena. “I’m excited.”
Boyle started to feel fatigued in August, and tests at the start of training camp revealed that he had chronic myelogenous leukemia, a form of blood and bone marrow cancer. The diagnosis was announced Sept. 19.
Boyle said he was blown away by the support he and his family received from teammates, the organization and the hockey community. “It was overwhelming,” he said. “It was very touching. Obviously, it’s a situation you don’t want to be in, but we’ve got a good handle on it.”
Boyle returned to practice Oct. 23, and targeted the game in Vancouver as his goal to get back in the lineup about a week ago.
Brian Boyle makes his long-awaited debut Wednesday night.
(Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images)
“Just coming on the road was a treat,” Boyle said. “I was bummed, my 2-year-old went as Batman last night. I missed all of that. He had a blast. Aside from that, I’m pretty excited.”
The six-foot-six, 245-pound Boyle has to take medication in the morning and before he goes to bed, but that’s all the treatment he needs at the moment. He signed a two-year, $ 5 million contract with New Jersey in July.
Boyle has 93 goals and 76 assists in 624 games in parts of 10 NHL seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs.
“I love this game. It’s given me so much,” Boyle said. “I met my wife in New York playing for the Rangers. Some of my closest friends, I’ve met through hockey. I’m so blessed to be able do this, and we all are.”