NEW YORK (AP) — If Dan Boyle’s time on ice goes as smoothly as his introductory conference call with the New York media, he and the Rangers will be quite happy with this free-agent signing.
Less than a week after the veteran defenseman officially parted ways with the rebuilding San Jose Sharks and agreed to a two-year, $9 million deal with a full no-movement clause with the Rangers, he discussed his decision to come to New York.
After the 15-minute chat ended, the soon-to-be, 38-year-old Boyle, seemed quite pleased with the session.
“That’s easy. Perfect,” he said Monday.
Boyle knew after the Sharks were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by Los Angeles — the team that beat the Rangers in the Stanley Cup finals — he wasn’t going back to San Jose. Earlier in June, the Sharks traded his negotiating rights to the Islanders for a draft pick, but Boyle had his sights set on the another team in the New York metropolitan area.
He even took less money to join the Eastern Conference champions.
“That’s where I wanted to go. That is the simplest way I can put it,” he said. “Once I found out I was done in San Jose, that’s the team that kind of jumped out. That’s the team that I’ve always been curious about.
“I’ve played in Florida and California — two nontraditional hockey markets. Those places were great, but I just wanted to experience something different. An Original Six team. You can make more money elsewhere, but at the end of the day you’ve got to be happy.”
Boyle’s signing on July 1 softened the blow the Rangers sustained when defenseman Anton Stralman and forwards Brian Boyle and Benoit Pouliot found richer deals elsewhere.
The 16-season NHL veteran joins a defense corps that already features stalwarts Ryan McDonagh, Marc Staal and Dan Girardi. Boyle’s right-handed shot and ability to run the power play from the point are key qualities he brings to the club looking for its first championship since 1994.
He will be counted on to replace forward Brad Richards as power-play quarterback. Richards, Boyle’s former teammate with Tampa Bay, had his contract bought out by the Rangers last month.
“I enjoy the pressure,” Boyle said. “You have to be prepared for that, and I have already been forewarned. I have been in pressure situations before with the Stanley Cup finals and Olympic gold-medal games. I actually thrive on it.”
Despite his age and an early-season concussion that forced him to miss seven games and plagued him for three months, Boyle led the Sharks in ice time and topped the club’s defensemen with 12 goals and 36 points. His goal total was his highest since the 2009-10 season.
“I’m not looking to go out as a guy playing in and out, playing a few minutes,” Boyle said. “I am going in to make a difference. I am one of those guys that wants the puck, that wants to make plays.
“Helping younger guys, that just goes with the territory. I would be happy to help, but I’m there to win. The ultimate goal is to win the Cup.”
Boyle did that in 2004 with the Lightning when he was teammates with Richards and Martin St. Louis — a key trade deadline pick up by the Rangers this season. Boyle said reuniting with the 39-year-old St. Louis was another in a long list of factors that led him to New York, especially since he won’t be the oldest guy on the team.
“We have very similar backgrounds with how we got to where we’re at,” Boyle said. “He talked about all the pressure that he put on himself early on, and how it was a little bit of a struggle for him. Once he got through that, we all saw in the playoffs what he could do.
“There is going to be lots of talk about his age and my age moving forward, but Marty and I will only thrive. That just fires us up.”
Boyle said he had nothing against any other team that pursued him, he just locked in on the Rangers and made a deal. The Sharks got a fifth-round pick from the Islanders for Boyle’s rights, as both teams looked to the future.
After talking with San Jose general manager Doug Wilson and coach Todd McLellan, Boyle knew his days there were done even before the trade.
“I don’t know that they didn’t want me,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that was shared and said behind closed doors. That’s where it’s going to stay.
“I wanted to be on an Original Six team, and the Rangers were the team that I wanted to go to.”
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