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It didn’t take too long for defenseman Dan Boyle to decide where he preferred to play next after Sharks management told him that he wouldn’t be in their plans moving forward.
The soon to be 38-year-old signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the New York Rangers on July 1, and said on a conference call on Monday that the Rangers were the one club he had in mind above all others as an unrestricted free agent.
“Once I found out I was done in San Jose, that’s the team that kind of jumped out and that’s the team that I’ve always been curious about,” said Boyle, who is scheduled to make his return to SAP Center in a Broadway Blue sweater on Jan. 10.
“I’ve played in Florida and California, two non-traditional hockey markets. I wanted to experience something – and those places were great – but I just wanted to experience something different. An original six team. New York is where I just wanted to go.”
It’s been mentioned many times that Boyle, who was reportedly offered more money with other NHL teams before the signed with the Rangers, was influenced by the possibility to reunite with his good friend Marty St. Louis, who has one year left on his contract in New York and with whom Boyle won a Stanley Cup in Tampa Bay in 2004. Boyle called St. Louis a “big factor” in his decision to join up with the Rangers, and joked that he would not be the oldest guy on his team anymore, like he was with the Sharks. St. Louis just turned 39.
But, there was more to it than that.
“We have to do these questionnaires every year – favorite this, favorite that – and for 15 years, they ask your favorite arena to play in. Obviously, aside from the team that you’re on – and the Shark Tank was incredible for six years – but aside from that, [Madison Square Garden] was always my favorite building to play in,” Boyle said. “It’s just a unique building, and another reason why I wanted to come here is to get to play at MSG.”
As for his predictable end with the Sharks, Boyle repeated what he said in the past, that his discussions with general manager Doug Wilson and head coach Todd McLellan would remain private. Boyle’s rights were traded to the Islanders on June 5 for a fifth round draft pick in 2015.
“I had long, long meetings with both Doug and Todd and there’s a lot of stuff that was shared and has been said behind closed doors, and that’s where it’s going to stay,” he said.
Now, the Sharks’ all-time leading scorer among defenseman is focused on starting a new, and potentially final chapter in his impressive career in the Big Apple.
“That’s where I wanted to go. That’s the simplest way I can put it,” Boyle said.