Today seems a fitting day to do Boychuk’s bio. It is after all his twenty-ninth birthday. Happy Birthday to one of the nicest people I would never ever want to meet on an ice rink.
Johnny Boychuk was drafted in the third round (61st overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. At the time of his drafting, Boychuk was in his third year playing for the Calgary Hitmen of the Western Hockey League(WHL). In his 177 games with the Hitmen, Boychuk put up some decent numbers. He recorded twenty goals, earned fifty eight assists, and acquired two hundred and for minutes in penalties. He also earned four points in the playoffs in the two seasons Calgary got into the post season.
He was traded near the end of the 2002-03 season to another WHL team, the Moose Jaw Warriors (no, I’m serious.) In a little over a season with his new club, he put up another set of respectable numbers. His fifty five points(eighteen goals, thirty five assists) were impressive for a defenseman. The one hundred and three minutes in the sin bin showed he was afraid to drop the gloves or fight hard to help his team win.
Boychuk made his professional debut with the American Hockey League(AHL) Hershey Bears at the start of the 2004-05 season. He then proceeded to spend the next four years bouncing around the AHL. In his AHL career he spent a season with the following hockey clubs: The Lowell Lock Monsters (again I’m not joking), the Albany River Rats, and the Lake Erie Monsters. His four years were productive ones. His one hundred and one points(twenty seven goals) showed to the hockey gods he was a team minded player. He soon got his chance to play at the NHL level. On January 5th, 2008, Boychuk made his NHL debut. He was playing for the Avalanche in a game against the New York Islanders.
Boychuk, a defenseman by trade was asked to move up to the forward position and play a wing. That he did so spoke volumes on his ‘team first’ playing style.
The next chapter of Johnny Boychuk started before the start of the 2008-09 season. On June 24, 2008, Boychuk was traded to the Boston Bruins in exchange for Matt Hendricks. He started out in the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Boychuk wasted no time in his new job. In the first week of the regular season, Boychuk was named AHL Player of the Week. His playing style impressed Claude Julien, and on December 1st, 2008 the soon to be minted #55 got to wear the ‘B’ for the first time. His first Boston Bruins game was a 3-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. He spent the rest of that year in Providence, amassing sixty five points(twenty goals) and won the Eddie Shore Award for being the most outstanding AHL defenseman.
The next season saw the numbers reversed. Boychuk played only two games in Providence and the rest in Boston. He earned his first NHL point with a goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 5th, 2009. The first Johnny Rocket had been launched. #55 was a man who put the team first, and he always let the fans know that he cared about them. Most players after a fight usually skate to the box or off the ice. Not Mr. Boychuk. One of his first NHL fights had him fighting Colin Fraser of the Chicago Blackhawks. After the fight, (which he won after hitting Fraser twice and watching him crumple.) Boychuk raised his hands to the fans, and the fans roared their approval. He put up a respectable fifteen points(five goals) and quickly became a fan favorite.
Boychuk spent the entirety of the next season in Boston. For those of you living under a rock. That was the year the Bruins brought the first Stanley Cup home to Boston in a generation. Boychuk was once again a team player. He put up sixteen points for the club(three goals, one of them a game winner.) He had a +/- of +15 for a defenseman, putting him among the better d-men that year. He was averaging over twenty minutes of play a game, and the “Johnny Rocket” was something to be respected and feared. Last season had #55 meeting and exceeding last years’ numbers. He scored one less point, but had increased his goal output to five and two of them were game winners. His shots on goal had increased by twenty and his shot percentage went up by an entire percentage point. His +/- exceeded his previous two years combined, and he was still averaging over twenty minutes a night.
Johnny Boychuk has become one of the faces of the franchise. He is not as fast as Brad Marchand, score happy as Tyler Seguin, or as a dominating force like Zdeno Chara. He is simply a player that puts himself above the team. His honest and solid work ethic will make him one of the people to watch this year for the Bruins. Simply put, he loves the game as much as we do, and is one of the most thankful of the Bruins to the Nation. Happy Birthday Johnny, now rocket us to the Stanley Cup.