SAN JOSE, Calif. — Dan Boyle sat for a moment Thursday at his locker and pondered it is almost 10 years since he won the 2004 Stanley Cup with the Lightning.
"It seems so fast to me," he said finally. "It kind of flew by."
But Boyle, in his fifth season with the Sharks, said he is not one to appreciate the accomplishment more with time because he so appreciated it when it happened: "I knew how hard it was not only to make it in the NHL but to play and to win."
But Boyle's legacy with Tampa Bay goes beyond the championship. His shadow hovers over the franchise more than most because the Lightning, since it traded Boyle to San Jose on July 4, 2008, has not been able to find a puck-moving defenseman to take his place. Marty St. Louis, the only Tampa Bay player left from the Cup team, chuckled when asked how much Boyle's absence has been felt.
"Yeah, we've had a tough go overall since then," St. Louis said before Tampa Bay and the Sharks played at the SAP Center. "He just brought so much stability back there, and poise. That was a tough transaction to see happen, especially for a guy like myself on the inside that knew how much he meant to the team and my game. We've missed him for many years."
Boyle, 37, has been invaluable to the Sharks as well. Since the 2008-09 season, his first with San Jose, his 242 points lead all league defensemen. He is the quarterback on the power play. Teammate Brad Stuart calls him "huge for us. He's still one of the better defensemen in the league."
But Boyle faces a challenge as he comes back from a concussion sustained Oct. 15, when he was knocked unconscious by a from-behind hit by Blues center Maxim Lapierre. Boyle's jaw smashed into the spot where the glass and end boards meet. He was taken off on a stretcher and did not skate for 10 days.
Boyle entered Thursday with four goals and seven points in eight games since his return, but coach Todd McLellan said he still was trying to find his game. "He's a confident individual who competes hard, and when that confidence erodes, it takes a little bit of his game with him. He's getting it back, a very important piece."
"The concussion was a setback," Boyle said. "But other than that, I felt really good."
Despite bitterness over the trade, he feels the same about his time with the Lightning. He still has a condo in Clearwater Beach.
"We kind of surprised people," Boyle said of winning the Cup. "But our locker room believed in ourselves, and different guys came through on different nights, just a team effort."