Another member of the beloved 2011 Stanley Cup champion Boston Bruins team has called an end to their career with Johnny Boychuk announcing his retirement from playing this week.
With Boychuk’s retirement, Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic are the lone regulars from that 2011 Stanley Cup team still playing in the NHL.
According to the Isles press release, “After numerous and extensive medical exams, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk‘s career has come to an end, due to an eye injury suffered during the 2019-20 regular season. The most recent injury was the second to the same eye.” Boychuk nearly lost his eye in the scary skate blade incident against the Montreal Canadiens just days before the NHL suspended regular season play due to COVID-19.
Boychuk was originally drafted by the Colorado Avalanche, but his NHL career took off after he was traded to the Boston Bruins where he become a top-4 defenseman and played in a pairing with Zdeno Chara for long stretches during his time with the Black and Gold. Boychuk was known for his rugged, physical play, his blistering “Johnny Rocket” slapshot and his toughness in playing through injuries suffered due to the hard way h played the game.
Boychuk was dealt by the Bruins to the Islanders for a pair of second round picks just ahead of the 2014-15 NHL season, and not-so-coincidentally the B’s missed the playoffs for two years in a row following the trade of the popular No. 55. The two second round picks eventually turned into a pair of bona fide NHL defensemen in Brandon Carlo and Ryan Lindgren, but it still marked the end of a successful B’s run that included Stanley Cup Final trips in 2011 and 2013.
The Edmonton native played his past six seasons with the Islanders, scoring 35 goals and 96 assists for 131 points in 404 games. Over the course of his 13-year career with the Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins and Islanders, Boychuk played in 725 games, scoring 206 points (54 goals and 152 assists).
“It’s been two months of going to doctors, so I’m not sure what to do yet. There were no plans on leaving [Long Island] but I just don’t know about the future,” said Johnny Boychuk, when asked what’s next for him. “It helps knowing that I’ve won [with the Bruins], but I wanted to win again. Hopefully I can do it again on the other side of the fence.
“Looking back on the team I won with, it was a great memory. Hopefully, I can do it again in a different way. [I want to be remembered] for being a tough player to play against and somebody that battled for everything, which is what I did. To be known off the ice as a good person and a good guy, and on the ice to be hard to play against. To be able to play for Boston and for the Island, I’m grateful for everything I got. I worked hard for everything I got. There were tough times along the way, but I’m just thankful for all of it.”
Boychuk had two years remaining at $6 million per season still left on his contract with the Islanders after signing a seven-year, $42 million contract with the Isles back in 2015. There were reports the Islanders had been trying to deal Boychuk in efforts to create salary cap space to sign Mat Barzal, but that clearly wasn’t going to be in the cards given the medical reports after sustaining the eye injuries.
In both Boston and on Long Island, Boychuk will long be remembered as an affable, tough-as-nails defenseman with a booming shot, a highly competitive nature and an infectious sense of humor.