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Tampa Bay Lightning: Boyle returns to face former team

SUNRISE — When Dan Boyle talks about the Lightning, he is careful to compartmentalize his emotions.

There is obvious affection for former teammates, the Tampa Bay area and its "great" fans.

But then there are owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie, whom Boyle has said "disrespected" him before a July 4 trade to the Sharks.

"Am I ever going to be happy with the way it went down? Absolutely not," Boyle said Friday. "No way; that was the wrong way. I think most people know that. But at some point, you have to turn the page, and I've done that."

There actually is one more page to turn, tonight when Boyle for the first time faces the Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum.

Boyle, 32, did not really want to talk about it as he sat in his locker at the BankAtlantic Center. The Sharks would play the Panthers in a few hours, and that was enough to worry about.

So, for the most part, he made small talk.

San Jose is a great place to live, Boyle said, and how cool to have San Francisco so close. With two goals, including a winner, and four points in his previous two games, he finally is cashing in on his chances.

And he and his wife, Amber, late next month are expecting their first child, a girl they will name Eastin Sky.

But the conversation always drifted back to the Lightning, the team with which Boyle, in six seasons, morphed from an unknown to one of the league's best puck-moving defensemen and won a Stanley Cup.

The association ended badly.

Boyle played just 37 games last season after two surgeries to repair three tendons in his left wrist, severed in September 2007 by a skate that fell off a hook above his locker.

In February he signed a six-year, $40-million contract extension with a no-trade clause. But new ownership believed the deal an economic liability. Boyle said he was threatened with waivers if he did not agree to a trade. Koules and Barrie declined to comment for this story but denied at the time there were threats.

Boyle, with his consent, was sent to the Sharks with defenseman Brad Lukowich for defenseman Matt Carle, defensive prospect Ty Wishart and first- and fourth-round draft choices.

Boyle said "it's only natural" to want to play well against a former team. "I'm like anybody else." He was more direct with San Jose's Mercury News.

"I'm not going to sit here and lie and say that it doesn't mean anything," he told the paper. "As a player, as a competitive person, you want to stick it to 'em. I want to win, and I want to win bad. I want to go out there and have a good game and win decisively."

He said his wrist is "100 percent," and he entered Friday tied for fifth among league defensemen with six points on two goals and four assists. His average 23:42 of ice time was third among Sharks blue-liners. One blip: At minus-3, he was the only one among the top 11 defensive scorers not to be at least even.

Coach Todd McLellan said Boyle has fit "like he belongs here."

"I knew he was competitive, but now, what I see is there's a fierce competitiveness in him," McLellan said. "There's nothing sloppy about his approach to the game."

"It'll be exciting to see him," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "He's a great player, one of the best in the league. We'll have to try to contain him because we know he'll come hard."

But Boyle, who had an assist Friday for five points in his past three games, insisted he is not coming to Tampa to even a score. "I know it's cliche, but it's about us playing a hockey game. It's more about that than me versus the owners."

Tampa Bay Lightning: Boyle returns to face former team 10/24/08 [Last modified: Monday, October 27, 2008 11:42am]
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