Call him bad-luck Boyce

Darryl Boyce skates at Leafs practice on Thursday. Boyce had his faced shoved into the glass on...

Darryl Boyce skates at Leafs practice on Thursday. Boyce had his faced shoved into the glass on Wednesday night by Philadelphia's Jody Shelley, breaking his nose. (ERNEST DOROSZUK/QMI Agency)

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:30 PM ET

TORONTO - If surgery, stitches and gauze were the criteria for making the NHL, Darryl Boyce should be a regular with the Maple Leafs.

But the centre is still not guaranteed a place in the lineup, despite an unfortunate penchant of ‘taking one for the team’.

Boyce had his face shoved into the glass by Jody Shelley of the Flyers at the Wells fargo Center on Wednesday, breaking his nose. He’s already endured a shoulder separation in his first NHL game that set him back a couple of seasons, as well as a freak accident with the photographer’s hole at the ACC that tore up his nose, among other close calls with serious injuries.

The Leafs’ first concern on Wednesday was that Boyce had sustained a concussion, but after going to the quiet room for a few minutes, the medical staff attended his busted beak and he returned.

“It’s the trenches that I go into sometimes,” the fourth liner said Thursday after practice at the MasterCard Centre.

“I just try and stay way from the injury bug and I’m finding that hard to do right now. It (his nose) is a little clogged right now with blood clotting and things like that. But as long as I’m able to breathe, I should be OK.

Boyce is battling newcomer Philippe Dupuis for a spot and the rapidly progressing Matthew Lombardi poses a threat to his ice time as well.

“Just like last season, you’re always fighting for your spot on the team,” Boyce said. “There are a lot of guys who can fill a lot of positions. We still have five (exhibition) games left.”

Coach Ron Wilson can’t be in the position of publicly favouring Boyce, but it’s hard not to express admiration.

“You saw what happened to his nose last year (the NHL reduced the circumference of the photo hole by an inch after the mishap). He got stitched up and came back. Not all hockey players do that, He’s extraordinary when it comes to that stuff,”

Teammates, meanwhile, can’t help but give Boyce a hard time about his luck.

“The weirdest things happen to him,” defenceman Luke Schenn said. “Whether its his nose on the glass or a stick in his face. But you have to admire his courage. He doesn’t want to take any time off. He comes back out there with blood on his jersey.”


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