New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle will make his first NHL All-Star Game appearance Sunday afternoon, and given the unique circumstances that made him agree to appear in the game, it wasn’t particularly surprising that the person he thanked most wasn’t a teammate or a coach.
“I’m not playing if it’s not for my wife,” Boyle said during a Saturday press conference, while addressing his own nearly career-ending battle with chronic myeloid leukemia and his two-year-old son Declan’s recent arteriovenous malformation diagnosis. “She’s taken the brunt of this, she had so many sleepless nights in hospital beds. Everything’s fine, but it’s still scary to see.”
The “she” Boyle mentioned would be his wife Lauren, whom he says urged him to play in his first All-Star Game after he was selected to replace Taylor Hall on the Metropolitan Division roster.
According to portions of the press conference obtained by the Washington Post, Brian and Lauren Boyle noticed Declan’s chin flaring up early last week and took their son to the Boston Children’s Hospital. Declan was admitted the same day Boyle was notified by the NHL that he was selected to replace Hall in the All-Star Game.
“So there was a decision to be made,” Boyle said. “At my wife’s urging... She knows that I worked my whole life to play this game, and I just want to do my best.”
Sunday’s festivities take place in Tampa Bay, where Boyle spent two seasons as a member of the Tampa Bay Lightening. Local fans familiar with Boyle’s story gave him a standing ovation during his appearance in Saturday's skills competition.
What a moment.— Sporting News (@sportingnews) January 28, 2018
Former lightning player Brian Boyle, who was diagnosed with cancer this year, received a standing ovation at the NHL All-Star festivities in Tampa.pic.twitter.com/UAAJPCCrOa
Teammates reportedly saw Boyle rushing back to his locker for text updates from Lauren after the skills competition. The 2018 NHL All-Star Game is scheduled to air at 3:30 p.m. EST via NBC.