EAST MEADOW, N.Y. — There was a familiar face on the ice at Northwell Ice Center. Johnny Boychuk helped out the New York Islanders coaching staff during Saturday’s practice as the team prepared for Sunday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
Boychuk ended his 13 year NHL career in November due to an eye injury and was placed on LTIR at the start of this season. Saturday was not Boychuk’s first time on the ice for practice, having worked with the taxi squad players and he had been on the ice at times during training camp.
Boychuk has been seen around the organization publically several times this week. On Monday, the MSG broadcast caught Boychuk sitting next to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello in a suite at Nassau Coliseum.
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) January 18, 2021
His continued presence around the Islanders organization has been a welcomed one by the rest of the team.
“It’s great for us. We love Johnny,” Josh Bailey said after practice. “We’ll take him as much as we can get him. It would have been tough to just more or less go cold turkey and not see him. He’s been such a big part of our dressing room for a long time. To get to have him out on the ice with us and to see him on a daily basis has been really great.”
Additionally, Boychuk had been skating with Mathew Barzal while he and the team sorted out his new contract the first week of training camp.
Josh Bailey became the first Islander to deal head-on with a COVID-related issue this season.
The veteran forward missed a day of practice this week and was briefly on the COVID-protocol list before returning to the lineup the following day. Bailey, along with the rest of the team, has been adhering to the COVID protocols, but potentially came into contact with the virus after his youngest son’s teacher tested positive for COVID-19.
— Isles on MSG+ (@IslesMSGN) January 21, 2021
A few days later when Bailey went to check on his son he noticed that he sounded a little sick and had a bit of a cough, the Islanders forward said. They had him tested and it came back positive for the virus.
The result ended up being a false positive and Bailey’s son tested negative twice over the following two days.
“For a couple of days there it was touch and go, but at the same time it all worked out,” Bailey said.