Former Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk forced to retire from NHL

Jared Wickerham/Getty Images

By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com

An eye injury suffered during the 2019-20 season will force current New York Islander and former Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk to retire from professional hockey, the Islanders announced Wednesday.

A veteran of 725 career games between the Isles, Bruins, and Colorado Avalanche, Boychuk's retirement comes as a result a Mar. 2 accident where he took a skate to the face from the Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen. The incident left Boychuk with 90 stitches on his eyelid, and though he returned to action, Boychuk admitted that it left him with what he termed optic nerve damage and a 'severe' lack of peripheral vision.

Prior to the injury, and prior to his six-season run with New York, Boychuk established himself as a fan favorite on what's been the golden age of 21st century Bruins hockey from 2009 through 2014.

A standout with the P-Bruins in 2008-09, Boychuk made his full-time jump to the NHL the following season, and was part of the team's Stanley Cup team in 2011 and on the 2013 team that came up short in the 2013 Cup Final.

Known for his throwback style and rocket of a shot, Boychuk's first playoff moment in Boston came in his first series, when he absolutely demolished the Sabres' Matt Ellis at the Buffalo blue line in Game 3 of their first-round series in 2010.

Johnny Boychuk destroys Matt Ellis w/SlowMo NESN HD 4/19/10

Johnny Boychuk throws a great open ice hit on Matt Ellis in Game 3 of the Bruins-Sabres playoff series, on April 19, 2010.

Overall, the Edmonton-born defender appeared in 79 playoff games during his Bruins career, which ranks as the eighth-most among defenders in franchise history, his 27 playoff points are ninth-most among all Boston defensemen, and his plus-20 rating over that 79-game run is the sixth-best among that group.

BOSTON, MA - MAY 27: Tim Thomas #30 and Johnny Boychuk #55 of the Boston Bruins celebrate their 1 to 0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden. (Elsa/Getty Images)

Cap problems in 2014 forced the Bruins to trade Boychuk just before the start of the regular season, however, with the Islanders pouncing on the Boychuk sweepstakes with two second-round selections sent Boston's way. (The Bruins used those picks on Brandon Carlo and the since-traded Ryan Lindgren, by the way.)

Boston crowd chants & cheers for Johnny Boychuk 10/23/14

Johnny Boychuk is cheered and his name is chanted by the crowd in Boston, on October 23, 2014.

With Boychuk retired, the Bruins' Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara (though still a free agent), David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask, Calgary's Milan Lucic, and the Stars' Tyler Seguin are the only active players who appeared in a game during the Black and Gold's 2011 run to a Stanley Cup.

The guys pay tribute to former Boychuk in the latest episode of the Sports Hub Sidelines podcast...

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.