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Lamoriello on Boychuk, ‘We’ll Just Have To Convince Him To Go To Work’

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New York Islanders Defenceman Johnny Boychuk (55) during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators
New York Islanders Defenceman Johnny Boychuk (55) during warm-up before National Hockey League action between the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators

When an athlete retires, many decide to hit the golf course and enjoy a life of relaxation. Others still have the fuel and drive to stay involved in the sport at a professional level, as a coach, a member of player development, upper management–you name it.

Former New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk, since retiring due to an eye injury after the 2019-20 campaign, seems to still have that fuel and fire.

The 38-year-old Johnny Boychuk was at the 2022 NHL Draft representing the New York Islanders organization, but there has been no announcement as to what his position is.

Our Stefen Rosner was curious and asked New York Islanders president and general manager Lou Lamoriello if there was a spot for Johnny Boychuk in the organization.

“There certainly is. You know, we just have to convince him,” Lamoriello said.  “We’ll just have to convince him to go to work.”

Lamoriello’s response brought a laugh out of everyone at the media scrum.

Following the 2021 season, Johhny Boychuk’s rights (LTIR) were traded to the Buffalo Sabres, but instead of reporting to Western, New York, Boychuk returned to his home in Edmonton, Alberta as his playing days were behind him.

It was a salary-cap clearing move, and the Sabres knew the situation.

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Despite not being around the New York Islanders during the 2021-22 campaign, Boychuk checked out UBS Arena prior to a game against the Florida Panthers on April 20. He caught up with MSG Network’s Shannon Hogan during the first intermission.

When asked about now being retired, it seems as though Boychuk still had hockey fever in him at the time. He had this to say after he was asked about what he missed most. 

“I think just being around the guys, you know, right after I was still part of the organization, and just being around them, being able to still be part of the team. And I just miss them, period,” said Boychuk.

Could Boychuk have an official title with the New York Islanders for the 2022-23 season?

With Barry Trotz and his coaching staff gone, Lane Lambert brought in his own personnel. On July 5, the New York Islanders announced that Doug Houda (defense) and Brian Wiseman (development) had been hired as assistant coaches.

Could Johnny Boychuk join the bench in a coaching role or will he find a seat next to Lamoriello?

If we had to guess over here, we would say that Boychuk, given his mentoring of Noah Dobson and other young Islanders, would be a strong addition to the coaching staff or to player development.

Looking around the league there are several great examples of former players who have transitioned over to front office roles. You have the Joe Sakic’s of the world, the Steve Yzerman’s, former players who became general managers. You have many players who go the coaching route, whether that be as an assistant or a head coach.

The most recent player-turned-head-coach move is Martin St. Louis, who was given the interim tag after the Montreal Canadiens fired Dominique Ducharme back in February.

St. Louis retired from the NHL in 2015 after a 16-year NHL career.

But not every player joins the organization for which they played, which Boychuk would be doing if he agreed to go to work every day.

Here are two examples of players who did just that.

Shane Doan, Arizona Coyotes

Shane Doan played 21 seasons in the desert for the Arizona Coyotes, donning the “C” for 13 seasons. In January of 2021, Doan joined the Coyotes’ front office staff as their chief development officer.

The two-time All-Star still has a winning heart even in the front office. “All I want is for this franchise to be successful on and off the ice,” Doan said when the organization introduced him in his new role.

Doan had the privilege to see his son Josh Doan, a sophomore right winger on the Arizona State University hockey team, get drafted by the Coyotes in the second round (37th) of the 2021 NHL Draft. A wholesome moment, to say the least, to see the Doan name live on in the desert.

The Arizona Coyotes are an organization still trying to figure out how to escape their rebuild but are slowly but surely acquiring pieces and prospects. Having Shane Doan as a member of management, a player that understands the fan base and the city, and has the desire to help get the Coyotes back to contention is critical for their turnaround.

Adam McQuaid, Boston Bruins

Adam McQuaid, a former Boston Bruins teammate of Johnny Boychuk, is serving as a player development coordinator within the organization. 

McQuaid spent 10 years as an NHL defenseman, nine coming in Boston. He hung up the skates at the start of the shortened 2021 campaign and that summer took the role. Boston had been his home for quite some time, an organization that not only gave him a chance to live his NHL dream but a fan base and city that embraced him.

For McQuaid, getting to the NHL was no easy task.

After being drafted 55th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2005, McQuaid never suited up in the Arch City. During the 2006-07 offseason, McQuaid was flipped to the Boston Bruins for a fifth-round pick and spent three years as an AHL player for the Providence Bruins before getting his chance at the NHL level in 2009.

The Bruins made his NHL dream a reality, and he spent the next nine seasons in black and gold and was part of their Stanley Cup-winning team in 2011.

After the 2017-18 season, McQuaid was dealt to the New York Rangers before ending that season back in the city that drafted him, Columbus.

“Having played there [in Boston] for a while, I got to see it firsthand, and I think I can communicate to the younger guys that are coming in, what the expectations are, [and] hopefully, help them eventually realize their goal of playing in the NHL and being a Boston Bruin,” McQuaid said in an interview with NESN. 

That fits the bill for Johnny Boychuk.

Beat Writer Stefen Rosner contributed to this story.

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