Programming note: Sharks-Bruins coverage gets underway Thursday at 3:30 p.m. with Sharks Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet California
BOSTON – Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle remembers pregame warmups in St. Louis on Oct. 15, and the start of the game against the Blues minutes later. He can also recall waking up in the back of an ambulance on his way to a local hospital shortly after the game had started.
What he doesn’t remember is getting knocked out on a hit from behind by the Blues’ Maxim Lapierre, or getting stretchered off of the ice minutes later. He had to watch the video later to see what everyone else saw in the corner of the Scottrade Center.
“I wanted to see it right away … I certainly wanted to find out how it happened,” Boyle said on Thursday at TD Garden. “I’ve been in this league for a long time, and a big reason is because I don’t put myself in those types of situations, where I’m susceptible to those kinds of hits. That’s why I wanted to see it. I still have a hard time believing that it actually happened.”
In his first public comments since the incident, Boyle expanded on one of the scarier moments in the history of the Sharks franchise, when he was unconscious for several minutes after the illegal hit.
He used the word “concussion” but later backtracked, saying that none of the doctors have used that term since the injury. Still, Boyle and the Sharks will err on the side of caution in his recovery, even though the defenseman said he would like to return to active duty before the end of the current road trip next Wednesday in Los Angeles.
“Still kind of waiting on more results from the doctors, and more feedback on what they saw,” Boyle said. “I know what you guys know. I got knocked out, and it’s just a matter of making sure that I have no symptoms, and I’m okay going forward in order to get back in the lineup.”
“Some guys get clipped, never miss a shift, and then end up feeling symptoms for months. Just because it looked worse, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be worse. I’m hoping that’s the case. It’s day-to-day. They’re just making sure that I’m not waking up with any sort of head issue, or anything like that. We’re being precautious at this point.”
Lapierre, who was suspended for five games, left a voice mail for Boyle that has yet to be returned, although Boyle didn’t want to get into much detail about the gesture.
“He left a message. I think it’s been documented that I didn’t take the call. I’ll leave it at that for now.”
Boyle relayed that it wasn’t the first time he lost consciousness competing. While playing for the Tampa Bay Lightning, he missed exactly one week after he suffered a concussion on a hit by Buffalo’s Ales Kotalik on Dec. 6, 2003.
He still doesn’t remember that hit, but recalls the trepidation associated with coming back into a live NHL game.
“I remember being pretty nervous coming back, and I ended up getting hit on the first shift. It was a pretty violent hit, but I didn’t feel anything,” Boyle said. “Not until that point could I have said I was okay, so I’m assuming it’s going to be the same kind of thing where I’ll probably be pretty nervous, and that’s natural. Until I get out on the ice and probably get hit for the first time again, hopefully some of that stress will go away and I’ll get back to normal.”
Boyle has managed to stay generally healthy during his 15-year career, except when he suffered a freak injury when a skate fell on his wrist, forcing him to miss most of the 2007-08 season.
In his Sharks career, Boyle missed just 20 games total in the previous five seasons. He doesn’t like being out of the lineup.
“I want to be playing by before this road trip ends,” he said. “It’s going to take more than one skate for me to feel comfortable and the team to feel comfortable.
"I’m not used to this, and I don’t really like it, to be honest with you. I don’t like being out. I’d like to be back sooner than later.”
He skated for approximately 75 minutes on Thursday in Boston after joining his teammates Wednesday night.
How did he feel?
“Good, I guess. I mean, obviously not great. I’ve been off so I could definitely feel – regardless of the hit or not – definitely a week [off] can take its toll on you. It was a good start, though.”