Islanders fans waited 11 long games for Johnny Boychuk to recover from the upper body injury that sidelined him the entire month of January. But you weren’t the only ones anxious for his return.
Whenever I talk to the players about Johnny Boychuk, I can sense a shift in their aura. This week, when he was close to returning, I interviewed several of the players asking, “What it means to get him back?” Almost all of Boychuk’s teammates responded the same way. They were thrilled to have him in the dressing room and excited to get him back out on the ice.
In my mind that translates to, “He’s a great guy and a strong leader. Oh, and he’s a heck of a defenseman, too.”
I think it’s really important to have that balance. Boychuk has been in the NHL for seven years now. He won a cup with Boston and knows what it takes to win. While there are several leaders on the team, Boychuk has taken on a significant leadership role by just being himself. Over the last year and a half, I’ve been impressed with the way he has transitioned from the Bruins to the Islanders.
- Johnny Boychuk is a jokester. He’s lighthearted at the right times and keeps things fun when they need to be. I can’t count how many times I’ll be in the middle of an interview and he’ll chime in. Just last week he was ragging Brian Strait about the Patriots.
- He’s honest and straightforward without being rude. Johnny understands this is a game and he’s lucky to be playing it. But as quick as he is with a joke, he is also a guy other players look up to and listen to. If the team is down a few goals, his smile that could win a million bucks is no where to be found. Also, if he makes a mistake in the game, he owns up to it.
- Boychuk plays hard. If he gets a little nicked up, or has a bump or bruise he will do just about anything to avoid missing a shift, let alone a game. With that being said, you can imagine how tough it was for him to miss five weeks in the middle of the season.