‘More than just another game’ tonight for Boyle in San Jose

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Dan Boyle makes his return to San Jose Saturday night when the New York Rangers visit the Sharks.

It will be his first game back in the Bay Area after he was traded in June to the New York Islanders for a conditional fifth-round pick. In July, Boyle signed a two-year $9 million contract with the Rangers.

“It’s more than just another game,” Boyle told the San Jose Mercury News. “It’s a very special game for me.”

The 38-year-old appeared in 431 games over six seasons with the Sharks and is the franchise leader in points for a defenseman with 269.

With Boyle, the Sharks won three Pacific Division titles and advanced to the Western Conference final twice; however, Boyle, who won a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning, wasn’t able to reach the final in San Jose.

“There’s always gonna be the disappointing fact that we were never able to hoist the (Stanley) Cup,” he said. “But as time passes, I remember the great games, great crowds and the energy in the air of playing in San Jose.”

Boyle, who was injured in October when San Jose visited New York, has nine points and a plus-9 rating while averaging over 20 minutes in ice time in 22 games this season.

“Dan Boyle was as big a part of this team for the six years prior to this as anybody that we’ve had,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan said Friday. “We are grateful teammates, we’re a grateful organization. I’ll bet you the community is too, and the fans.

“They appreciated the effort that he gave us. I know I certainly did as a coach.”