Brad Boyes arrived Thursday morning at Islanders Iceworks ready for action.
For the last few months, the Islanders forward has been back and forth between New York, where he participated in the NHLPA meetings, and Toronto, where he worked out daily with several NHLers. With the back-and-forth traveling behind him, Boyes is on Long Island with his teammates with one thing on his mind.
“I’m looking forward to games,” Boyes said, following the team’s informal skate at Iceworks. “I’ve been practicing for about four months, so I’m getting tired of that. You can only get so excited when it comes to 4-on-4 and 3-on-3 drills, so I think when we get to real games that’ll be a little bit more fun.”
The Islanders signed the 30-year-old to a one-year contract early in the free agent signing period in July. He moved to Long Island with his wife and daughter late in the summer, but has spent most of the last three months back in Toronto, hitting the rink with other NHL players who call the area home.
“Our skates had some good pace,” Boyes said. “Last week there were about 20-25 guys, so we were getting pretty much a full team practice. It wasn’t game-like, but the intensity was getting up there probably as close as we could without getting into contact drills. As far as staying active and in the best shape possible, I think we did a good job.”
Boyes entertained the idea of playing overseas, like many NHL players did during the work stoppage, but ultimately chose to stay close to home, despite offers from teams in the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland.
“I looked into it and was close to going a few times,” Boyes said. “When you’re involved in the meetings, you’re holding off for a little bit of hope that the season comes. I’ve got a young daughter and I didn’t want to go over there if I was going to go for a week and have to bring everyone back. It was just the timing. With family and the holidays and the possibility of us ending this, I just wanted to wait it out.”
After shaking hands with some of his new teammates Thursday morning, Boyes wasted no time getting his equipment ready for the players-only practice. He was one of the first on the ice and stayed out after most of his teammates.
The eight-year NHL veteran posted career-highs with 43 goals in 2007-08 and 72 points (33 goals, 39 assists) in 2008-09 with St. Louis. His production has dipped in recent years, down to eight goals and 15 assists in 65 games with Buffalo last season.
“One of my big goals right now is just getting back on the ice and doing some of the small things that I have gotten away from,” Boyes said.
“As much as that would be an amazing opportunity, there’s depth here that is pretty impressive,” Boyes said. “That’s a little overlooked. There’s a lot of different guys that would be good to play on a line with here.”
Boyes’ practice mates Thursday included Andrew MacDonald, Frans Nielsen, Matt Moulson, Matt Martin, Marty Reasoner, Eric Boulton, Matt Carkner, Kyle Okposo, Rick DiPietro and free agent Radek Martinek. The group has increased in size every day as players trickle back to Long Island this week in anticipation of Training Camp.
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