After the nasty hit that Dan Boyle suffered against the boards many fans were holding their breath, both Sharks and Blues alike, hoping the San Jose defenseman would be alright. The scene was grim at first when Boyle appeared to lie motionless on the ice immediately following the hit. However, last night there was plenty of good news coming from the Sharks organization as the defenseman stayed at the hospital overnight.
Boyle himself was texting with ESPN’s Perre LeBrun talking about how he’s doing and the support he has gotten from his fans. Boyle said that “[He’s] doing ok, thank you for your concern and support…Means a lot to me. I’ve never once taken this game or any of my fans for granted. Hope to be back soon.”
The guy who hit him, Maxim Lapierre, is scheduled for an in person hearing in New York, but there is no date set as far as we know. And, while Lapierre does not have a history of suspensions during within the 18-month statute of limitations set forth by the new CBA, he most certainly has a reputation for being dirty so there will be a lot for the NHL to consider.
There have already been a number of suspensions handed out this season and most recently there was one to Patrick Kaleta of the Buffalo Sabres for targeting the head of Jack Johnson of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Brad Stuart of the Sharks just finished serving his three-game suspension for an elbow earlier this year.
Now, with Boyle out likely out for the foreseeable future, we consider what impact his loss will have on the Sharks.
Probably the biggest loss for the Sharks due to the Dan Boyle injury is his veteran and leadership presence. Things like this are hard to quantify, but for he has worn the ‘A’ on his jersey for a few years now and is no doubt one of the leaders on this team. With an influx of young guys this season that veteran role has become even more important, so his loss certainly impacts the Sharks in that aspect.
His offensive presence from the blue line is something that the Sharks will be hard-pressed to replace in the long run. Sure, right now both Jason Demers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic are putting up great numbers, but do not expect them to continue at this rapid pace of production. While Brent Burns could possibly be that guy if he were moved back to defense, I do not think that is going to happen.
Boyle himself this season only has one goal and one assist, but his greatest offensive impact is definitely on the power play which he has quarterbacked to perfection. The Sharks unit has been one of the best in the league for a few years now, and much of that is owed to Boyle. Now some of the younger guys with some talent, such as Matt Irwin or Demers, will have to step up.
Ice time will also be something that the Sharks will have to fill in his absence, and he has historically had a lot of it. This season, with the small sample size, he has only logged 19:20 per game, and that actually ranks below guys like Justin Braun and Vlasic. This is still is big chunk that now must be picked up by what is considered San Jose’s sixth/seventh defenseman on the roster, so there will not be the same type of quality minutes.
Suffice it to say, Dan Boyle will be missed. However, considering this team is dealing with plenty of injuries as it is, I think they just might be alright. The longer the injury lasts, however, the more negatively his loss will affect the team.