Veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk has announced his retirement from the NHL due to an eye injury suffered during the 2019-2020 regular season campaign.
The news comes after it was reported that Boychuk had numerous and extensive medical exams about the injury. The most recent injury was the second injury to the same eye.
On March 3, Boychuk exited a game against Montreal after an errant skate caught him in the face. The injury would require 90 stitches.
Following the NHL’s pause due to COVID-19, Boychuk rehabbed during that time and was cleared to play when New York resumed their season in the NHL’s bubble for the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs. New York would be eliminated by eventual Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
The announcement came to the Media over a Zoom call. During the announcement, Boychuk was visibly upset.
“When somebody tells you that you’re not going to ever play again – or that you shouldn’t – it’s tough,” said Boychuk. “It’s been really, really tough.”
Boychuk was a mainstay on the New York Islanders’ blueline, amassing over 400 games through six seasons. He also tallied 131 points (96 assists) during his stint with New York.
Boychuk’s career was spent playing for three teams, spread out over 13-seasons. Boychuk originally played for the Colorado Avalanche and Boston Bruins before being traded to New York in October of 2014.
The native of Edmonton, Alberta had plenty of experience in the NHL playoffs. Boychuk (36) played in 104 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, scoring 13 goals and 17 assists for 30 points. Boychuk won the Stanley Cup with the Boston Bruins in 2011 – the franchise’s first Stanley Cup victory since 1972.
Boychuk was drafted 61st overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. He played junior hockey in the Western Hockey League for the Calgary Hitmen and Moose Jaw Warriors.
On the international stage, he laced his skates for Team Canada during the World Junior Championships (U-18) in 2002. Canada would place sixth at the tournament.
Boychuk wore the “A” on his sweater for the past two seasons with New York. During his time in New York, Boychuk left it all out on the ice for his teammates. Whether it was blocking shots, throwing huge hits, or motivating the team, Boychuk was a leader inside the locker room as well as the community.
The Stanley Cup champion helped purchase 300 tickets for military members to attend Isles Military Appreciation Night, as well as driving and mentoring Noah Dobson to practice for half a season. In 2017, the Boychuk family bought 100 Thanksgiving dinners for families in need, a tradition he continues to do.
Overall, Boychuk wraps up his NHL career with 725 games played, 54 goals, and 206 points. He also racked up 331 penalty minutes, 12 game-winning goals, and 1547 shots.