Could the end of the Brian Boyle era in New York be near?
According to SNYRangersblog.com, Brian Boyle was quoted as saying:
“Hopefully I can stay but I haven’t put too much thought into it. Everyone knows how I feel about the Rangers and New York and what Glen (Sather) and Schoeny (Jim Schoenfeld) have done for me. I want to make an impact, have more responsibility sometimes. There is a lot that goes into it but this is where I want to be.”
As fans, we have always had a love-hate relationship with players, but not as much Boyle has endured. After struggling the past two seasons, the big forward flourished in his new role this season. Under head coach Alain Vigneault, he switched positions from center to winger. Also, he was utilized on a top three penalty kill unit that was depended upon throughout the season. Most notably, the Rangers’ Stanley Cup run. Yet, he was somehow left unsatisfied. He let it be known that he wanted “more responsibility.” That is a little vague, but what could it mean? Does Boyle want to move up a line on the offense? Does he want to see time on the power play?
Could his desire for an expanded role include ice time on the power play? A common theme for past New York Rangers teams has been the power play. This season was no exception. During the regular season, the Rangers converted a little over 18 percent of their power play chances. That ranked them in the middle of the league. However, during the Stanley Cup playoffs, the team converted only 12.6 percent of their power play chances. This also included long droughts of more than 15 opportunities at a time. The way the team was performing with the man-advantage, a different look wouldn’t have hurt. Perhaps another big body presence, like Brian Boyle, may have been an option. He may not have had the best hands or skating ability, but he was willing to get in front of the net. He got in the workmen areas around the goalie, picking up “loose change” that came his way. I see his viewpoint, if that is the expanded role he desires.
Maybe, he desires to move up a forward line. Believe it or not, he has been a goal scorer. He’s had four seasons of 10 or more goals as a professional, including a 31-goal season for the Manchester Monarch’s of the AHL. In his second year with the Rangers, he tallied 21 goals. However, there is a problem for Boyle, if he desires to move up in lines. There is too much depth on this team. There is no room for him to move up a line. Assuming that all RFA and UFA forwards are signed, the team is solidified at every position. Honestly, I do not see Boyle leaving the fourth line. He helped form an identity and gave fans a reason to cheer that line. With Dominic Moore and Derek Dorsett as line mates, they formed a tandem that was the polar opposite of the first three lines. Whereas they were fast-paced and flashy, the fourth line embodied the blue collar work ethic: work for everything, give nothing, and occasionally score. For Boyle, changing lines may not be an option.
Perhaps it is the yearning to become more of a team leader. After all, he is one of the few that have been on the Rangers team the longest. After five years of playing for New York, Brian Boyle has seen it all. The good and the bad. The highs and the lows. Through it all, he has remained. For Boyle, this season could be described as redemption for the 6’7 forward. He has endured the wrath and praise of Rangers fans. This season, he has been part of those players who have lead by example. He has made a case for himself. However, a captaincy may not be in the cards. Often, leaders go unseen. You don’t need a “C” or an “A” on your chest. It’s what the public doesn’t see: the pep talk in the locker room, helping others find their way on the ice, ensuring that the young players are playing the right way.
If he cannot find what he is looking for with the Rangers, Brian Boyle will look elsewhere. Where though? His friend, former Rangers Brandon Prust, is in Montreal. He could reunite with him again. Combine them with Dale Weise, and you have a line of former Rangers that will certainly add punch to a city that is still not over the loss of the Eastern Conference Title. Another, landing spot would be his former employer, the Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. As we just witnessed earlier this month, the team is loaded with depth. They are capable of playing the rough and tumble game, with scoring threats up and down their lineup. Or could it be another team that desires his services? The next couple of months will certainly be interesting.
If Brian Boyle decides to leave via free agency, he will be missed. Not only does he fill a hole in the team’s lineup; but, he has adapted to a new role on the ice. Under head coach Alain Vigneault, he’s had to learn a new system, change positions from center to winger, and become a staple as centerman on the top penalty kill unit for the Rangers. His role for the Rangers is an important one. With the future looking promising, bigger and better things could be realized, if he stays.
Why would Boyle leave all this behind and start over?
Author update: On Tuesday, July 1st, Forward Brian Boyle signed a three year contract with the Tampa Bay Lightning worth six million dollars.