Brian Boyle has been named the Devils’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the New Jersey chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
Boyle best exemplified the “qualities of perseverance and sportsmanship” that the trophy is awarded for. Boyle was diagnosed on September 19, during training camp, with chronic myelogenous leukemia. He vowed to play this season and he has, notching 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points in 63 games played this season. Of those 13 goals, five have come on the power play.
But beyond stats Boyle, a veteran of ten NHL seasons who was signed by the Devils as a free agent on July 1, is a leader. He wears an A as an alternate captain for a reason. As coach John Hynes told Abbey Mastracco of the North Jersey Record, “One of the things that I think has helped him have some credibilty in the locker room is what he’s done on the ice his whole career and how he goes about his business every day.”
Hynes did not stop there in his positive assessment of Boyle as a person. He told Mastracco: “I think when you look at his personality, he’s very well-spoken. He’s thoughtful before he speaks and he treats people really well. And when you do that, you can hold guys accountable, give them advice. He’s been a big part of what we’ve tried to do here.”
Mastracco mentioned that Boyle’s ultimate goal for this season is to get the Devils into the playoffs. He told her: “I’ve got a lot of motivation, I certainly want to do my part and that’s elevate my game. That’s kind of everybody’s responsibility. I want to do well in the big moments. But from what I’ve seen and the support system I’ve had, I’m certainly motivated to do my best for a lot of reasons.”
The 33-year-old native of Hingham, Massachusetts would not be the first Devil or member of the franchise to win the award, should he do so. Glenn “Chico” Resch won it in 1981-82 as a member of the Colorado Rockies and Ken Daneyko won it in 1999-2000.
This is certainly a much-deserved nomination. There has been no inspirational story on par with Boyle’s this season in the NHL. He was dealt a blow by life, but was able to overcome it and continue his playing career. And not only did he continue his career, he has contributed in a big way to a surprising Devils team.
Making the playoffs would be the big reward for him, but here’s wishing him good luck that he does take home some hardware this June.