Throughout his NHL career, Johnny Boychuk played through almost any injury.
But when it comes to serious eye injuries, there are limits to a players' ability to tough it out, and that's why the New York Islanders announced Wednesday that "after numerous and extensive medical exams" the 36-year-old defenseman's NHL career has come to a close.
Boychuk's most recent eye injury, the second to the same eye in his career, happened March 3, when he was hit by the skate of Montreal Canadiens forward Artturi Lehkonen. Boychuk needed 90 stitches to repair a cut above his eyelid. Not long after the NHL season was paused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Boychuk played just three postseason games for the Islanders when the season resumed over the summer.
"I knew there was something going on (during the playoffs) but I didn't want to think about it because I wanted to play. You try to play through everything, and I did," said Boychuk, who has two more years left on his contract at a salary-cap hit of $6 million.
During a Zoom call Wednesday, Boychuk said he had suffered optic nerve damage.
Boychuk, a second-round pick (61st overall) of the Colorado Avalanche in 2002, had his best individual seasons with the Islanders, including a career-high 35 points (nine goals, 26 assists) in 2014-15. But his best team success came during his six seasons with the Boston Bruins. Boychuk was a regular on the 2011 Stanley Cup championship team that won Boston's first title since 1972.
In a 725-game NHL career, Boychuk had 54 goals, 152 assists and a plus-123 rating.
The Islanders will likely place Boychuk on Long Term Injured Reserve when they require the space under the NHL salary cap.
--Field Level Media