Darryl Boyce was not a star by any means with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and his entire tenure with the team amounted to just 64 games in the NHL.
Yet he became a popular fourth line player last season during the team's 18-9-6 finish to the season and an unlikely success story, given the team had signed him to a minor league deal out of the Canadian university system.
But Boyce was claimed on waivers by the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday afternoon and will now join that team in time for Tuesday's game against the Detroit Red Wings.
Looking for a contract for next season, he'll have a better chance of earning one with the Blue Jackets than the Toronto Marlies.
Here are Boyce's thoughts on joining the last place team in the league and leaving an organization he's been with since 2007:
“It’s just a whole bunch of mixed emotions. But it’s awesome that there’s a team out there that really wanted you. I’m just excited to be back in the NHL. I feel I’ll get an opportunity to be in the lineup consistently and play a few [more]minutes so I’m excited to sort of prove to myself what I can do at the NHL level.
“It’s like anything - you’re going to have some uncertainty and not know how to feel when you’re leaving a place after a few years. It’s nerve-wracking leaving a city you’re so comfortable with and going to a place where you don’t know too many people. But in this line of work, we all sort of endure that.
“So there’s lots of butterflies in my stomach and I just can’t wait to get down there and get playing again.
“The best memories [in Toronto]were just last year [getting called up]and playing the games when they meant something for the city and for the organization. It just seemed like the longest time when the city really didn’t have a spark in the hockey world and at least we created that electricity. I know we were underdogs, but every game was sort of intense.
“A lot of us came up from the American League that year and maybe people weren’t thinking much of what we were going to do. But we really put something together there last year... and I’m still hoping for them to get in the playoffs this year, regardless of me leaving the team. You see a lot of guys who have put in a lot of years there and you just want them to succeed."
On finding out he was leaving:
“[Being put on waivers]was more shocking than in training camp. I knew we were in a slide, and something had to be done, but I was just sort of waiting for a trade to happen.”
"I just talked with my agent and they were telling me it was coming down to the last few minutes. They knew a couple teams were interested and we thought Columbus was going to take me.
“I talked with Burkie a half hour after, and he just wished me well. I talked with [Ron Wilson]and a couple other guys in the organization... They’ve been around this business a long time and they’ve seen players come and go. But I know with Wils and myself, we had a really good relationship and he really gave me a chance there. I was just happy that I got my shot here.
“I really respected him, the way that he coached, in a very professional way. He just sort of got me and I got him and I respected him and the way he taught the game. He was great."Report Typo/Error