Former NHL defenseman Johnny Boychuk spent seven seasons as a member of the New York Islanders before an eye injury ended his playing days in the National Hockey League back in 2021. Boychuk was a fan favorite during his time on Long Island, as he played an integral part in the franchise’s turnaround after he was acquired, along with Nick Leddy, in the summer of 2014.
And although he could not play the game he loved at the NHL level, Johnny Boychuk remained with the team for the shortened 2021 season, joining his teammates for each practice and doing what he could to help head coach Barry Trotz and the rest of the coaching staff.
Technically speaking, he was still a part of the team, just on a long-term injured reserve.
In a salary-cap move this past November, the New York Islanders traded Boychuk’s contract to the Buffalo Sabers for future consideration as the Sabers needed a contract to reach the salary cap floor ($60.2 million).
Johnny Boychuk never made his way to Buffalo (why would he) as he remained in his hometown of Edmonton with his family.
After more than a year away from the New York Islanders, Tuesday night marked his return to Long Island and his first time at UBS Arena.
During the first intermission, Johnny Boychuk sat down with MSG Network’s Shannon Hogan to discuss his thoughts on the new arena and about what he’s missed since retiring from the game.
“It was unbelievable,” Boychuk said. “Just the drive up to this building, do you know? I’ve seen pictures of it online, but when you’re driving up to it, you really appreciate the effort and all the work that’s been going along with this process, and you know, it’s a beautiful arena.”
“I walked the concourse before the game started, before anybody came in, and you know everything about this building is amazing, truly amazing.”
Shannon Hogan then joked about Johnny Boychuk coming in early because if he had tried to walk around while the fans were in the arena, he would not have been able to. During the interview, fans lined up as they waited to chat with Boychuk and get autographs, which again illustrated what he meant to the fans during his time with the organization.
Boychuk left it all on the ice, each and every game, and that’s something that earned him support from the New York Islanders faithful.
“As the conversation shifted from the arena to Boychuk’s playing days, he was asked what he missed the most about playing. I think just being around the guys, you know, right after I was still part of the organization, and just being around them, being able to still be part of the team. And I just miss them, period.”
Upon his decision to hang up the skates, a few of his teammates had taken to social media, including New York Islanders captain Anders Lee and Scott Mayfield. And their messages to Boychuk showed the impact Boychuk had on his career, not just as a mentor but also as a friend.
Anyone who knows JB knows he is one of a kind in every way. He is a selfless teammate, who never backed down, shot every rimmed puck, has a heart of gold, and touch of moderns top customer. But above all he is always there for you. I’m lucky you call you my friend, Love you Beezy pic.twitter.com/qhS8Kkkm5g
— Anders Lee (@leeberr09) November 25, 2020
— Scott Mayfield (@scottmayfield2) November 25, 2020
Although playing the actual game was something Boychuk enjoyed, it was the little things that he misses the most.
“You know, you played with them for seven years, and you know, that’s all you know. And like the little routines that you have warm-ups, the games, being on the ice battling blocking shots, for the most part,” Boychuk said. And, you know, hearing the anthems before the game, giving the goalies a big hug at the end of the game, hearing the fans chant your name, you know, the
list goes on.”
“I came yesterday and seen all the guys, and you know, it’s just like I’ve never left, and it was just nice to just see their faces and make them smile.”
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