New Jersey Devils and Former New York Ranger Forward Brian Boyle Diagnosed with Leukemia
The New Jersey Devils and Brian Boyle held a conference call Tuesday afternoon to announce that the recently signed forward was diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia.
Team doctor, Dr. Michael Farber, General Manager and Executive Vice President, Ray Shero and Boyle made the announcement during a conference call.
Farber noted that the disease, known as CML, is a cancer of the bone marrow that is largely treatable with medication.
He added that Boyle is in the early stages of the disease which was discovered from the blood tests which were taken during the team’s physicals last week as training camp opened.
The doctor said, “We are awaiting further test results which will help guide management and any possible return to play.”
Boyle said, “I feel very fortunate and very blessed. We have had a tremendous outpouring of prayers, and if there is anything that I can ask it is that that continues.”
“That is something that I have seen firsthand heal cancers and heal situations that are said to be untreatable. For us we are in a good spot. We think we have a good plan of attack here and I am looking forward to getting on the ice and continue playing.”
Boyle Looks to Get Back on the Ice Opening Day
He continued, “When that happens, I do not know, but my mindset is on October 7 [Devils home opener]. I do not like missing games. If I play poorly one night, it is because I played poorly, not because of any other reason.”
The 32-year-old forward, signed a two-year, 5.5 million-dollar contract with New Jersey as the free agency period opened on July 1.
In 75 games this past season, he put up 13 goals and 12 assists, for the Tampa Bay Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs. The Bolts dealt Boyle to the Maple Leafs right around the trade deadline last February.
In 10 seasons, between the New York Rangers, Los Angeles Kings, Lightning and Maple Leafs, Boyle has scored 93 goals and 76 assists in 624 games. He added 15 goals and 13 assists in 106 Stanley Cup Playoff appearances.
Boyle added, “The support I have gotten already, and I have not played a game yet for the Devils, I am very, very thankful that I was offered the opportunity to join the team and that I smartly took it. I have been in great hands.”
Only Noticeable Symptom: Fatigue
He also noted that the only indication of any symptoms was fatigue, but he pretty much attributed it to the late season trade, dealing with the everyday details of having a two-year-old son and new baby daughter.
He said, “Recovery time took a little bit longer. I was not sure really what it was. There were days I felt normal. There were days I felt a little bit tired and I did not really put too much into it.”
About ten seasons ago, former National Hockey League forward, Jason Blake, announced that he had been diagnosed with the same condition.
He played in all 82 games for the Maple Leafs during that season, winning the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy, for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.
Blake went on to play four more seasons before retiring four years later in 2012. Boyle hopes he can share the same success story.
He said, “It all depends now on however long this treatment process takes, but I feel good right now. I feel as close to normal as you can feel, so I am looking forward to getting back into it and learning the system of a new team and sinking my teeth into a new season.”
Treatment to Begin Soon
Farber hopes that the treatment process for Boyle can begin as soon as possible. He said, “We should have the all the rest of the data within the next few weeks, if not the next few days, and from there we would like to begin whatever course we decide almost immediately.”
Boyle who is one of 13 children, noted that his father, Artie had been diagnosed with what was thought to be a terminal cancer that had spread from his kidneys to the lungs, in 1999. A trip to the Bosnia-Herzegovina, religious pilgrimage site of Medjugorje, in 2000 helped turn up a clean scan, upon his return. The elder Boyle has been cancer-free ever since.
Boyle said, “I know that prayer can move mountains, so everybody that is going to read or hear, listen to this, any kind of support they want and prayers will always be accepted and much appreciated.”
Hockey Community Reaches Out with Words of Encouragement
After the announcement, the NHL community reached out to Boyle with words and tweets of support. The Devils press release listing the roster for the preseason game against the Rangers, included the words “We stand with Brian!”
Former and current teammates, the organizations he has been a part of and members of the hockey media, Tweeted out words of encouragement for the forward.
The Devils Tweet said, “We skate together. We fight together.” The hashtag, #BoyleStrong, also started trending throughout the hockey community and social media.
The Rangers, Lightning and Maple Leafs also joined the Devils in saying that they stood behind him and his fight against cancer.
The Hingham, Massachusetts native, drafted by the Kings, 26th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, helped lead the 2013-2014 Rangers and 2014-2015 Lightning to the Stanley Cup Final.