(Photo Credit: Bleacher Report | bleacherreport.com)

The 36-year-old veteran NHL defenseman, Johnny Boychuk, is officially hanging up the skates due to an eye injury he received during the 2019-2020 season. The New York Islanders announced his retirement on Wednesday.

Boychuk suffered the injury in March of 2020 when the skate of Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen hit his face/eye region. The injury required approximately 90 stitches. Unfortunately, this was the second injury to the same eye. He returned to the ice this past summer with plenty of optimism but played in just three games. It’s also important to note that he suffered a head injury his first game back due to an illegal check to the head from Mike Matheson.

According to the Islanders, the decision to retire was decided “after numerous and extensive medical exams.”

The Edmonton native was drafted 61st overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft by the Colorado Avalanche. Before being traded to the Boston Bruins in 2008, Boychuk had anything but an easy path to the NHL. When he first joined the Bruins organization, the Providence Bruins (AHL) ended up as the fifth AHL team he played for in five seasons. During that year in Providence, Boychuk scored 20 goals and 66 points, winning the Eddie Shore Trophy as the league’s best defenseman.

After his stellar performance in Providence, Boychuk earned the opportunity to wear the Spoked-B full-time during the 2009-2010 season and never looked back. From there, Bruins fans would get to know Boychuk as “Johnny Rocket,” a nickname derived from NESN’s Jack Edwards anytime Boychuk scored a goal with his thundering slap-shot. In his second season as a Boston Bruin, he became an integral part of the team that helped capture the 2011 Stanley Cup.

(Photo Credit: National Hockey League | NHL.com)

Boychuk spent six seasons in Boston, suiting up for 317 games and contributing 19-56-75 numbers with an astounding +88 rating. He also contributed nine points and a +12 rating in 25 games during the 2011 Stanley Cup run.

Unfortunately, his time in Boston came to an end in 2014 when the Bruins traded him to the New York Islanders in exchange for Philadelphia’s second-round pick (Bruins selected Brandon Carlo) in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and a second-round pick (Ryan Lindgren) in the 2016 NHL Entry Draft. From that point, Boychuk had found his home in New York and played six seasons with the team, appearing in 404 games and producing 131 points with a +34 rating.

Throughout his 13-year tenure in the NHL, Boychuk suited up for 725 games and recorded 54-152-206 numbers with a +123 rating. From all of us here at Black N’ Gold Hockey, we wish you a very happy retirement Johnny Boychuk!