Brian Boyle receives warm reception on return from cancer diagnosis

Brian Boyle made his debut for the New Jersey Devils in Vancouver

A cancer diagnosis during training camp put Brian Boyle’s life on hold, but on Wednesday the New Jersey Devils forward returned to the ice to resume his NHL career.

Making his first game appearance for New Jersey since signing a two-year, $5 million contract with the Devils in July, Boyle got a warm greeting from the fans at Rogers Arena in Vancouver and nothing but love from his teammates in red and black as he skated in warmup less than two months after finding out he had leukemia.


Boyle’s health issues began back in August when he started to feel increasing fatigue. A standard physical followed by additional testing at the start of training camp showed that the 32-year-old had a rare form of blood and bone marrow cancer called chronic myelogenous leukemia, which was officially diagnosed on September 19.

Since the cancer was revealed, Boyle weighed out treatment options and made a plan for his battle, eventually deciding to go the oral-medication route while working to make a comeback to his new team and the game he loves. Boyle expressed his gratitude for the support he’s received from across the hockey community to reporters after the team’s morning skate on Wednesday.

”It was overwhelming. It was very touching. Obviously, it’s a situation you don’t want to be in, but we’ve got a good handle on it,” he said.

Boyle loves the game, and he reiterated how much the sport of hockey has done for him in his life from not only a professional standpoint, but from a family one, too.

”I love this game. It’s given me so much,” Boyle said. ”I met my wife in New York playing for the Rangers. Some of my closest friends, I’ve met through hockey. I’m so blessed to be able do this, and we all are.”


Boyle continues to take medication twice a day — morning and night — and that’s the extent of his treatment at the moment. He’s played parts of 10 NHL seasons with the New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple and, now, the Devils.

The six-foot-six winger has skated in over 600 NHL games, but it’s safe to assume Wednesday’s contest will remain one of the most memorable of his hard-fought life.

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