Brian Boyle

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PHT Morning Skate: U.S. rallies, Canada dominates in Olympic women’s hockey

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• United States rallies, defeats Finland 3-1 in women’s hockey in PyeongChang. (NBC Olympics)

• Desbiens, Canada shut out Olympic Athletes from Russia (NBC Olympics)

• Meghan Duggan: ‘We’re on a mission’ (NBC Olympics)

• Could the Winter Olympics be the start for Chris Chelios’ coaching career? (Yahoo Sports)

• Team Canada needs to envoke the spirit of Gerard Gallant (Greatest Hockey Legends)

• Chris Kelly living out a dream once too big to fathom (Toronto Star)

• Pierre Dorion’s plan to get Ottawa good again is about to begin (Ottawa Sun)

• Steve Yzerman doesn’t believe that overpaying for players at the trade deadline will lead to a Cup. (Tampa Bay Times)

Be sure to visit NBCOlympics.com and NBC Olympic Talk for full hockey coverage from PyeongChang

• It’s hard to be bad with an Art Ross contender (Oilers Nation)

• PHT’s Adam Gretz asks the question: Is Phil Kessel getting enough credit for the season he’s having? (FanRag)

• Meet Jay-Sharrers, the NHL’s first black official (Sportsnet)

• Blackhawks raising season ticket prices by 4 percent amid losing season (Second City Hockey)

• What will be is what will be for the Islanders at the trade deadline (The Sports Daily)

Brian Boyle‘s mother inspired by cancer-surviving son (NHL.com)

• Tiger Williams charged with sexual assault during military flight (CBC.ca)

• Notable absence of present stars among NHL’s all-time scoring leaders (Spector’s Hockey)

WATCH LIVE: NHL All-Star Game

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CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE AT 3:30 ET

Atlantic Division

Forwards:

Steven Stamkos
Nikita Kucherov
Brayden Point
Auston Matthews
Aleksander Barkov
Brad Marchand
Jack Eichel

Defensemen:

Erik Karlsson
Mike Green

Goalies:

Andrei Vasilevskiy
Carey Price

[Best, funniest, most heartwarming 2018 Skills Competition moments]

Metropolitan Division

Forwards:

Alex Ovechkin
Brian Boyle
Sidney Crosby
Josh Bailey
John Tavares
Claude Giroux

[Alex Ovechkin fires hardest shot at 2018 All-Star Skills Competition]

Defensemen:

Zach Werenski
Noah Hanifin
Kris Letang

Goalies:

Henrik Lundqvist
Braden Holtby

[Brian Boyle ‘thankful’ to be a part of NHL All-Star Weekend]

Central Division

Forwards:

Patrick Kane
Nathan MacKinnon
Blake Wheeler
Brayden Schenn
Eric Staal
Tyler Seguin

Defensemen:

P.K. Subban
Alex Pietrangelo
John Klingberg

Goalies:

Pekka Rinne
Connor Hellebuyck

[NHL All-Star Game returns to thriving Tampa Bay market]

Pacific Division

Forwards:

Connor McDavid
Johnny Gaudreau
Brock Boeser
James Neal
Rickard Rakell
Anze Kopitar

[2018 NHL All-Star Skills Competition Fastest Skater: Connor McDavid]

Defensemen:

Drew Doughty
Brent Burns
Oliver Ekman-Larsson

Goalies:

Mike Smith
Marc-Andre Fleury

[Coolest hair wasn’t enough, Boeser wins accuracy competition]

Best, funniest, most heartwarming 2018 Skills Competition moments

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However you feel about the actual game (or recently, games) that come with the All-Star experience, you have to be a real stick in the mud not to enjoy the skills competition.

The 2018 All-Star Skills Challenge did not disappoint in that regard.

The six events and everything around them brought about some fantastic ribbing from fans to a few polarizing players, many heartwarming moments where players gave back, stupendous displays of talent, and more. Let’s take a look at some of the standout bits.

Heartwarming gestures

Alex Pietrangelo is donating the $25K he won in the passing competition to charity, and that’s likely far from the only great gesture to come from this weekend.

Rickard Rakell spent time with Katie Hawley, a fan who fought off cancer on three occasions.

Brian Boyle, feel-good story of the weekend

One of the best ovations came to former Lightning forward Brian Boyle, who is fighting cancer. Every now and then, All-Star games give us a chance for emotional moments like these.

It prompted Boyle to take a moment to thank Lightning fans specifically.

[Even more on Boyle.]

Follicle follies

As this post mentions, Brock Boeser turned heads because of his accuracy and also because he’d probably be a great spokesman for Head & Shoulders.

His Thor-like mane stole the show, but don’t sleep on Noah Hanifin. Just ask Jack Eichel, who could probably look like that dude from “Workaholics” if he really let his hair go wild.

Everyone’s favorite goofball, Marc-Andre Fleury

Only Marc-Andre Fleury would choose a song from “Frozen” to pump him up during something like the save streak …

And then win it all, edging Pekka Rinne 14-13.

Getting grief

Some of the most fascinating fan interaction moments coming during player introductions. Who will get cheered? When will we hear a pin drop? Which players will be jeered the most heartily?

You wonder if Tampa Bay fans would identify even more “villains” in the next postseason, as they may very well be in for some bitter battles during the upcoming playoffs. Still, it was noticeable that Patrick Kane and Sidney Crosby drew some heat.

Recently suspended forward Brad Marchand might have gotten it the most, or at least he received it most often, as fans booed him during introductions (which he relished) and clearly enjoyed it as Marchand struggled during the accuracy shooting.

However you feel about Marchand, few NHL players were as comfortable in this role:

Fun shots, fun moments

What’s less shocking: Connor McDavid winning the fastest skater or P.K. Subban entertaining us all?

This kid might need to get his shot in the puck control relay, honestly.

Sometimes it’s comforting to see elite athletes struggle (fooling us into thinking they’re just like us), so Marchand’s issues during the accuracy shooting and Drew Doughty‘s frustrations were memorable.

The U.S. women’s Olympic team were in Tampa, which opened up some fun photo ops, like Hilary Knight and Alex Ovechkin (via NBC’s Matt Ziance):

Erik Karlsson, you scamp.

Actually, would a pirate call Karlsson a scamp, or something else?

It’s cool seeing opponents pal around, and it also provides opportunities for old friends to see each other again, like Crosby (and Kris Letang) did with MAF:

Henrik Lundqvist speaks for most of us in simply saying that it was a lot of fun. Yes, yes it was.

More from the All-Star Skills Challenge

Great moments in the past.

Alex Ovechkin wins hardest shot; Marc-Andre Fleury takes save streak.

Brock Boeser wins accuracy competition; Alex Pietrangelo shows off his great passing.

Connor McDavid shocks no one in winning fastest skater; Johnny Gaudreau shows off puck control.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Coolest hair wasn’t enough, Boeser wins accuracy competition

Let’s be honest, it’s fun to watch great players do difficult things.

When it comes to aiming at small targets in front of an arena full of people, it’s especially fun. You get a taste of very different scenarios: virtuosic displays of accuracy and those moments where near-misses start to stack up, frustration builds, and the cringe-worthy comedy kicks in.

The tweaked passing challenge provided both ends of the spectrum.

Passing

Nikita Kucherov struggled to start things off, but Drew Doughty really hit his head against the wall, showing his frustration in a pretty funny moment while finishing last.

Alex Pietrangelo, meanwhile, was the virtuoso, winning the passing competition under one minute:

Eric Staal was excellent as well, the other passer to finish under one minute:

Accuracy

Brock Boeser‘s hair and accuracy were too much for the targets during the accuracy shooting.

If only we could all be this cool.

Brian Boyle was awfully close to winning it, too.

[Boyle thankful to be part of All-Star weekend.]

What did you think about the targets lighting up, thus adding to the challenge? Brad Marchand probably didn’t love it, as he ages to finish, and the fans let the agitating winger know it.

The accuracy competition is the best, isn’t it?

Really, the toughest question is: would Boeser win coolest hair at the All-Star Game if William Karlsson made it? Maybe we’ll get that answer in San Jose.

More on the Skills Challenge

Great moments in the past.

Alex Ovechkin wins hardest shot; Marc-Andre Fleury takes save streak.

Connor McDavid shocks no one in winning fastest skater; Johnny Gaudreau shows off puck control.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Brian Boyle ‘thankful’ to be a part of NHL All-Star Weekend

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TAMPA — Taylor Hall’s injured hand opened the door for another Metropolitan Division player to head to Tampa for NHL All-Star Weekend. And in a perfect choice, Brian Boyle, Hall’s New Jersey Devils teammate and a former member of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was selected to go in his place.

“I’m very thankful to be here. This is a tremendous honor for me,” Boyle said Saturday before the Skills Competition. “I don’t really care how I got here. This is a phenomenal event just to be here for a few hours. I got here today. The amount of support the players have gotten, the support from my family… My wife has been a rock star. I’m not playing regular games, never mind coming here, without her support. It really is just kind of a pinch-me moment. I can’t believe this is my life. I’m very thankful. I always have been. I’ve never taken it for granted to play in this league. To be here and to see all these stars, the guys, how humble they are and then how supportive they’ve been for me, throughout the year and even today, it’s been wild. It really is. I’m just going to try to enjoy it the best I can.”

Boyle was a beloved player during his two-and-a-half seasons in Tampa and the love continued inside Amalie Arena. The crowd gave him rousing ovations during warm-ups and an even bigger roar erupted during player introductions. Four months after he was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia , the 33-year-old feels great and it’s shown in his play where he currently has 11 goals and 17 points in 38 games played.

Boyle’s treatment consists of four pills a day and throughout the process he said he’s lost 12 lbs. He noted that his side effects are “nonexistent,” which is something that he’s been amazed by in regards to how money raised to fight the disease is helping those affected by it.

“It’s tremendous what they’ve been able to do,” he said. “It’s pretty eye-opening in terms of what they’ve done with research and money and funding to be able to treat what I have, instead of having to go through bone-marrow transplants and chemo and radiation. So it’s an opportunity for me now to try to get people to join me in raising some money, because if we can do that across the board with cancers, I think that’s a great thing for humanity.”

The decision to accept the All-Star invite wasn’t a easy one for Boyle. He told the media that his two-year-old son, Declan, was diagnosed with arteriovenous malformation, a vein disorder that was putting pressure and stunting bone growth in his jaw. After New Jersey’s final game before the break Thursday night, he drove to join his wife, Lauren, at Boston Children’s Hospital where Declan had been intubated for 36 hours after being operated on.

“We’ve had [to go] through [that] four times now. I’m not playing if it’s not for my wife,” Boyle said. “She’s taken the brunt of this. She’s had so many sleepless nights in hospital beds with my son. He’s going to be fine. The doctors have assured me everything’s fine. It’s just kind of scary to see. When I got the news, he was already in the hospital for some pre-op stuff. I had come down for our last game before the break, and I was going to go back up. So there was a decision to be made.”

Once they knew their son was going to be fine, Boyle’s wife urged him to go and take part in All-Star Weekend, and he’s been enjoying it so far with his dad and brother.

“Hopefully we have some clips to show [Declan] and we’ll get some swag,” Boyle said. “But yeah, it’s pretty special to be here. It’s tough because I want to be there, too, but we made the decision to come. The decision was a little harder than we thought it might be, but we think it’s the right thing.”

Now that his cancer is being taken care of, Boyle is focusing his efforts on raising awareness and money for research.

“It’s unbelievable. I’m living a fairy-tale life,” he said. “It’s a tremendous blessing for me, and I won’t take it for granted, and every year I seem to love it a little bit more.”

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.