Ask a true died in the wool Boston Bruins fan why they remember October 4, 2014, and they will tell you it is the day former Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli swung the deal that sent top-four defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the New York Islanders. In return, the Bruins received second round draft picks in 2015 and 2016 along with a conditional third round pick in 2015.
Sadly, Boston bid adieu to one of its favorite sons, who helped bring a Stanley Cup championship home in 2011.
Boychuk fit in very nicely from the start with the Islanders and has been a major reason why the franchise has been rejuvenated since acquiring him.
Personally, the big (6-foot-2) blueliner enjoyed his best season in the NHL last year, scoring nine goals, 26 assists, for 35 points. Fifteen of those points came on the power play, which was fourth highest on the club. Not only that, he finished second on the team in Time On Ice with an average of 21:40 and led New York with 149 blocked shots.
This season, Boychuk has contributed seven goals and 15 assists, totaling 22 points with a plus-15. However, according to his coach, Jack Capuano, the native of Edmonton brings more than numbers to the Islanders.
“I think the big thing is leadership,” answered Capuano when asked what it is that Boychuk contributes to the Islanders. “We talk about when we get guys, who come from a winning organization, I think you get the character, you get the leadership. I think that’s what he brings to our room.”
Boston captain, Zdeno Chara agrees with Capuano’s assessment and is happy to see his former defense partner doing well with New York.
“It’s nice to see him,” Chara said when asked about Boychuk playing in TD Garden with the Islanders. “Obviously, he was a great teammate. Everybody really enjoyed his company. He’s such a funny guy and always upbeat and smiling. He’s enjoying Long Island and, I’m sure, he’s one of the most valuable players on that team.”
Following a recent game in Boston, Boychuk spoke about how it is special for him to return to TD Garden.
His sense of humor came shining through when he, as they say in the hockey world, “chirped” this writer, who covered Boychuk for the last three years of his stay with the Bruins.
“Oh yeah, definitely, to see the guys that you played with for a long time,” Boychuk said with a smile. “It’s always good to see their faces. Even yours. The first time (returning to Boston), I barely remember it. It was emotional but coming back again is different and it’s a lot easier.”
Although he’s in New York, Boychuk keeps tabs on what is going on in Boston.
“Yup, I talk to a couple of the guys all the time and still stay in touch with them.” Said Boychuk.
The defender also had some nice words for his former coach, Claude Julien.
“Well, he deserves it,” said Boychuk about Julien recently becoming the winningest coach in Bruins history. “He’s a good coach and I’m sure he’s going to get a lot more than that. He teaches a lot of good things and plays a good system. He expects a lot out of his players and he gets it from them. It’s a big accomplishment and just congrats.”
The hockey world is full of first class people, color Johnny Boychuk one of the classiest.
Follow ESPN New Hampshire’s NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.