New York Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk has played 500 NHL games. It’s not a great way to celebrate a milestone by losing to the worst team in the league, but Johnny: “You got nothin’ to be ashamed of”.
When the New York Islanders took the ice against the Arizona Coyotes last night, it was Johnny Boychuk‘s 500th game. While it wasn’t a proud moment for the team, Boychuk has nothing to be ashamed of and should be wearing a letter on his sweater. Let’s consider…
He’s Proved Himself
Boychuk is 32 years old, with a Stanley Cup ring on his finger. He came to the Islanders in 2014 and played an enormous role in re-inventing the team’s defensive corps alongside Nick Leddy.
He had a big part in quarterbacking the Islanders to their best record in years and years in his first season with the team.
He re-invigorated the power play from the very first game he played in an Isles sweater. But has since, mysteriously seen his power play minutes dwindle significantly.
It’s almost as if Johnny Boychuk still has something to prove to a coach who has never won at any level.
He Chose to Stay
There might not be many people who appreciate this as they should but Boychuk chose to stay. As an unrestricted free agent coming off his best offensive season in 2014-15, he re-signed with a team he barely owed any allegiance to and from whom most guys have run.
The Islanders black hole of free agency saw some light and the fandom could have pulled some hope from it. Whatever people may think, he was going to get that money or more from another team. He helped build that winning season and he stayed.
Boychuk was brought in for a lot of reasons, not the least of which was his experience on defense and winning a Cup. He was also brought in for his leadership abilities. He is a guy others look to. When Mathew Barzal pretty much signed his doghouse lease with Jack Capuano, it was Boychuk who sat with the kid.
Watch close enough and it seems a little like Boychuk’s also the only one who can actually get John Tavares to not look like he’s carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders. Since Tavares is in diamond out of coal territory (thank you Ferris Bueller), that’s pretty huge.
What are their qualifications? Let’s see. Clutterbuck is a chippy, vocal leader who will bite your head off for stepping on the logo. Hamonic is Hamonic, all hail Travis who made everyone emotional last season, amen. Ladd’s won a Cup and captained a team but never played in blue and orange.
I call you-know-what, on all of them for getting a letter before Boychuk. Through 37 games this season he exhibits more leadership and more presence on the ice than anyone other than Thomas Greiss – when he dresses, that is. He makes good things happen more often than not. He gets behind these boys and displays more emotion than any of them.
I guess hindsight being 20/20 and all applies here.
Boychuk chose to stay and he’s been here, present, despite the disservice paid to him by Capuano. All things considered this season especially, it’s a pretty amazing feat.