ST. LOUIS – The update was vague, but defenseman Dan Boyle is “doing OK,” according to head coach Todd McLellan, after the defenseman was the victim of a dirty hit from behind by St. Louis’ Maxim Lapierre on Tuesday.
“He left and he went to the hospital, and from what I understand he’s doing OK. They’re going to keep him tonight just for some observation, but from what I understand, he’s OK,” McLellan said, after a 6-2 Sharks win over St. Louis that was overshadowed by a frightening moment, in which Boyle was motionless for several minutes.
It was revealed earlier through a team spokesman that Boyle was “alert and moving his extremities” on his way to Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis, after he had to leave the ice on a stretcher.
His teammates were unhappy with the hit from Lapierre, to say the least.
“Things like that happen, especially when idiots are idiots,” Joe Pavelski said. “Dan’s a world-class defenseman, there’s straight numbers (from behind) – there’s guys in this league that will target that. It doesn’t matter. They just go. It sucks.”
Logan Couture said: “A player that probably shouldn’t even be in the league is taking out one of the best players in the world. That guy’s got a history. After the first shift, he’s yelling at us from their bench that he’s coming after us, and then he does that. I don’t even know. It’s pretty gutless. Then he turtles. Be a man if you make a hit like that. Don’t turtle and run behind the linesman.”
Before the postgame rage, though, there was heart-in-your-throat nervousness as Boyle was prone on the ice. Couture called it one of the scariest things he’s ever seen, and he was one of the first players to skate over to his teammate after the hit.
“He was shaking, his eyes were up at the roof. We tried talking to him and he wasn’t responding. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Couture said.
Joe Thornton said: “I’ve never seen a guy be like that before. It takes your breath away.”
Thornton said Boyle was still not moving and was unable to speak as he was wheeled off. That made it difficult for the Sharks, who were about to go on the power play, to continue the game at full speed.
“I’ve never gone through anything like that where a teammate is carted off on a stretcher, and you honestly don’t know if he’s going to walk again,” Couture said.
But, the Sharks did come around, and comfortably beat a club that had not even trailed through its first four games of the season. San Jose is now 6-0-0, and is tied with Colorado for the best record in the league. The Sharks and Avalanche are the only NHL teams remaining that have not lost yet.
A couple of power play goals from Couture and Pavelski shortly after Boyle left the game staked the Sharks a 2-0 lead after the first period, and that lead eventually doubled to 4-0 at the second intermission. Thornton and Patrick Marleau led the team with a goal and two assists each.
“It’s obviously and emotional roller coaster. You don’t know how the teams are going to respond,” McLellan said. “You don’t know what’s going to happen. The fact that we took advantage on the power play kind of put us in the driver’s seat for the rest of the night. I was happy with the way our team responded, but as soon as the game is over, your concern goes immediately to Dan and his health.”
Thornton said: “You’re kind of sitting on the bench just thinking, you know, hopefully Dan’s OK. It takes awhile to get back focused, to be honest with you, because he’s such a good friend.”
The Sharks now move on to Dallas, where they will have a day between this game and Thursday’s matchup with the Stars to regain their composure, and hope for more good news concerning their teammate.
There is, at least, some sense of satisfaction that they were able to come through on the scoreboard against a team they’ve notoriously struggled against. Especially after what transpired.
“It’s cliché, but you try and win for Boyler. Your mind is thinking about him, so it’s good to win for him,” Couture said.