Olympic challenge excites Boyle

Coaches hoping for offence from the defence

By BRUCE GARRIOCH, QMI Agency

Dan Boyle won’t just be a spectator this time around.

The Ottawa native, a defenceman for the San Jose Sharks, travelled to Torino for the Winter Olympics in 2006, but his role on the taxi squad with Eric Staal and Jason Spezza consisted of practice and watching games from the stands.

Boyle is hoping to draw on the experience he received while watching Canada finish seventh after getting bounced by Russia.

When Boyle woke up on Dec. 30 and the indicator on his cellphone told him there was a new message, he wasn’t surprised the call was from Team Canada’s Kevin Lowe to inform the 33-year-old he will be on the regular roster.

“The last time I had to put the ego aside,” says Boyle. “I can tell you it wasn’t easy. I decided to check the ego at the door, because that was the best thing to do, and go to the Olympics.

“I’m not going to say it wasn’t tough to sit in the stands. It was frustrating to watch what was happening. But I think it may help in my preparation. Just being around the whole atmosphere of the Games and understanding what it’s going to be like.”

There isn’t much doubt Boyle will get a chance to be a big part of Canada’s blue line. Coach Mike Babcock wants offence from his defence.

Boyle recently returned from an “upper body” injury that kept him out for six games. An excellent puck-mover, he will be relied on for the power play.

“The key for us is not having anybody go there and try to change the way they play,” said Boyle. “I’m not, all of a sudden, going to become a defensive defenceman. That’s not why they chose me. I have to go do what I do best. If everybody does what they do best, looking at this team, I think we’re going to be fine.”

The pressure is going to be immense. Gold isn’t just the goal, it’s expected, especially on home soil.

“It’s going to be tough to live up to the expectations, there’s no question,” said Boyle. “This is about pressure from 33 million people who want us to win gold. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s exciting.”

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