Transcript: Brian Boyle discusses being traded from Tampa to Toronto
Transcribed for accessibility: Boyle talks about how much he enjoyed playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the growth of hockey in Tampa, and his excitement about joining the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Quick Note: For the sake of clarity and fluency, I have omitted extraneous uses of the phrases, “and,” “but,” “you know,” and “I mean.”
Chris Johnston, Sportsnet: Hi Brian. I’m wondering, I guess, just the simple stuff. What kind of emotions are you feeling? Did you expect to be moved before this [trade] deadline?
Brian Boyle: Hi Chris. Well, it’s interesting when you get woken up from a nap expecting to play and you’re no longer with that club. It’s definitely a feeling I haven’t had yet as a player in this league, but it’s - I’m pretty sure most people have gone through it and it’s a lot of different things. It’s a little bit of, “What do I do first? Do I start packing a bag? Do I take a shower?” [chuckles] It’s different. It really is a different feeling.
I’m going to miss my buddies. Something that we - we’ve had two pretty good runs in Tampa. Everybody from [General Manager] Steve [Yzerman] and Coop [Head Coach Jon Cooper] down to the players - it’s really been a pleasure to play down in Tampa. It’s been exciting. So from that stand point, it’s obviously tough to say goodbye. I think I’m a fairly loyal guy. I like to - I believed in our group but we obviously didn’t get it done.
We aren’t where we want to be this year and I go to a team that - once again, I get to play - an unbelievable opportunity to play on an Original Six team with a tremendous amount of history. A team that I think, really since the trade deadline last year, when they started playing some of the younger guys and obviously with Auston Matthews - they have some guys in there that are just phenomenal, phenomenal players that are going to be really good.
So it’s an opportunity to move up in the standings in the matter of a couple of hours. It’s exciting for me. The playoffs are obviously by far the most fun hockey I’ve been able to have a chance to play.
Johnston: Thank you.
Mike Zeisberger, Toronto Sun: Yeah, Brian. I just - can you talk a little bit about - you were kind of a leader type player in the Tampa dressing room that had a lot of kids. Do you see yourself being that kind of “leader by example” type when you get to Toronto, given how many kids they have on the roster as well?
Boyle: I’m going to do my best to play the game that I’ve been playing. I think that’s the way I prepare and try to, obviously, play my best. It’s this kind of formula - it’s always evolving. It’s always something that you have to kind of go back and look at and make sure that you’re ready to go. I think from the moment you wake up, especially on game day, you need to kind of look yourself in the mirror and get yourself ready to play.
It’s obviously a team game. There’s a lot that goes into this game. But I think for the most part you need to make sure that you’re ready. You’re prepared and you have to think about all those things as a player - and without really having to say a whole lot. I think that’s what I’ve learned from guys in the past, older guys and successful guys that have led the way on teams that I’ve been on. They were always very disciplined in how they prepared for games. It’s going to be no different for me.
I’m going to take the same approach that I have taken in the past. My focus is on playing hockey, within the team system, and doing the best I can.
Zeisberger: Thank you.
Terry Koshan, Post Media: Hey Brian. I just want to get into the emotional state, that’s the first thing. It’s a quick turnaround. Do you expect to be with the [Toronto Maple] Leafs tomorrow, with the game here in San Jose? Or later in the week? Have you been told what role you’re going to have - this sort of thing - or is that just [inaudible]?
Boyle: Well I think there’s some smart minds behind that organization in Toronto. I think they know what player they’re getting and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to do what’s asked of me, first and foremost. The game’s tomorrow night in San Jose I believe, right? That’s where hopefully I make my debut.
Koshan: Thank you.
Unidentified Reporter: Hey Brian. You mentioned that it’s a pleasure to play in Tampa. Just want to get your thoughts - when you look back at your time in Tampa and the runs you had there, any shock to your system when you saw Ben Bishop traded yesterday? You guys - the core that you guys had there for a couple of years is kind of being broken up now.
Boyle: It’s difficult to process it all. Obviously what Ben [Bishop] has done for this team is no secret. But it’s been - it’s kind of the business side of it. That’s what’s always talked about and for good reason. There’s a salary cap, it’s a hard cap. You have to make decisions based on that unfortunately sometimes. It’s a little different than the hockey. I mean Bishop’s name has come up since the draft last year. That’s just kind of - it finally went down when it went down.
Again, you can try to wrap your head around it or you can try not to worry about it, but when the phone call comes and you’re moved, you don’t really know what’s going to happen or how you’re going to react. It’s just something you kind of have to experience. [chuckles] It happened just over two hours ago for me. I’m started to try to get a little bit organized here. [chuckles]
It really is - it’s disappointing in the fact that what we had in Tampa, our expectations for this year weren’t met. That’s probably the most disappointing part of it. But again, there’s a business side to it and you don’t really know what’s going to happen, regardless. Then you just hope that if you do get moved, you go to a good place. I’m very excited about where I’m headed.
Unidentified Reporter: Hi Brian. Just a quick question about your reaction to getting to join a team with three outstanding rookies in Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Mitch Marner who have really driven the success of the team this year. What do you feel your experience down the stretch, in playoff races, and into the post-season can help bring those young guys who are largely playoff untested?
Boyle: Well, like you said, it’s going to be very exciting to watch. What those guys can do - they’re spoken very highly of within the organization, obviously - so that’s impressive. The whole team as a unit is a good group of guys, the character there. That’s a big aspect in terms of when things get tough in the playoffs, sticking together and fighting through some things, some uncomfortable times.
But again, like I said, when I came down to Tampa I was excited about the opportunity. It was a younger team, relatively untested, and we went to the [Stanley] Cup Final that year.
So the potential and the opportunity is there. I think the skill level is for sure there. I said it before. Post trade deadline last year when they started playing some of those younger guys, it was - they were a tough team to play against then. Then obviously this year as well. They’re just going to keep getting better and better with the coaching staff they have there. I think it’s just a great opportunity.
Erik Erlendsson, Lightning Insider: Thank you. Hey Brian, just real quick. In your time here in Tampa, what’s the best thing you take away from moving from New York down to what is considered a smaller market and seen the way that the place down here reacted to the team over the last few years?
Boyle: Hey Erik, good to talk to you buddy. I’ll go on to say it was a real pleasure just to be a part of that whole run, especially the first year. Getting through that first round, it was a bear. Just kind of the support we had, the energy in the building. I wasn’t quite expecting that much of it. Around town, going to the grocery store, it was all positive, obviously. I wasn’t quite expected to be as recognized - I think we all weren’t.
The support we had down here - still have - they’ve really grown accustomed to hockey. They have a passion for hockey in Tampa. It’s growing. It’s a smaller market right now, but it’s growing. It was fun to be a part of that run, especially to get that excitement in. Some really good memories from some playoff runs.
I know they had a Cup in ‘04. Those guys really deserve a ton of that credit, but we want to keep it growing - we wanted to keep it growing and continue to build that and make it a real hockey town down there. I think they’ve done a good job of that with the ownership, Mr. [Jeff] Vinik - what he’s put into this team. It’s been - it was a lot of fun to be a part of that.
Erlendsson: Thanks Brian. Good luck.
Boyle: Thanks buddy.
Joe Smith, Tampa Bay Times: Hey Brian, thanks for the time. I know you have a lot to process and a lot things you and your family are excited for this spring [Boyle and his wife are expecting their second child]. You mentioned how much you guys enjoyed playing here and living down here. Would there be a situation where you would consider coming back in free agency this summer, considering how well you guys enjoyed it and obviously the team we have down here?
Boyle: Well I mean again, we’re really thankful for Tampa - what Tampa’s done for us. We enjoyed it. We were close to her parents when we were down here. It’s always going to hold a special place in our hearts. That being said, it’s not very fair to talk about that right now.
I’m on a new team with high aspirations. I think that - that’s really really exciting. I’m really looking forward to Toronto. Playing there as a visitor is always tremendously exciting. That buzz that goes around a game - just the game itself, the knowledge they all have up there of the game and what’s going on around the league, the passion for it - it’s something I’m excited to experience.
I can’t even - I’m not really going to begin to even think about down the road. I tried not to think about - I was at church yesterday, I tried not to think about Wednesday and the trade deadline. Obviously things happened a little quicker than that. [chuckles] Right now, it’s going to be a waste of time and energy to think beyond trying to get my stuff packed up and head off to San Jose, to be honest with you.
Smith: Good to talk to you, Brian. Thanks so much for your time.
Boyle: Thanks Joe.
Unidentified Reporter: Hey Brian. I was just wondering, going back to when you left New York, there was some talk that maybe Toronto was interested in you at that point. Had you known about that? Interested in coming to the Leafs at that point? Were they a team that you looked at?
Boyle: Yeah, there were a number of teams which is, I guess, always a good thing. The decision is never really easy. You want to make the right one. No one really has a crystal ball. I was fortunate that my time in Tampa was good. Now we’re kind of onto the next phase.
When you get to free agency, hopefully you have some suitors and teams that want you. There were options, we weighed them all as a tag-team, me and my wife. We thought about it. We were actually on our honeymoon at the time. We made our decision and we were very thankful for the opportunity that we’ve had. That’s it. That was in the past.
A lot of things change over time. Especially as a player, you try to change, you want to stay relevant. It’s a lot of motivation for me to prove [Leafs General Manager] Lou [Lamoriello] and [Leafs President] Brendan [Shanahan] and the management in Toronto - to prove them right, that they made the right decision and help this team win. That’s ultimately the beginning and the end there - you want to win.