Brian Boyle is back in the NHL.
After failing to earn a contract in 2020, the 36-year-old's comeback bid officially ended in success on Tuesday morning, as the Pittsburgh Penguins signed the veteran centre to a one-year contract worth $750,000.
It's hard not to root for Boyle wherever he goes. The man is a cancer survivor, having been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in September 2017, somehow still playing and racking up an impressive 23 points in 69 games for the New Jersey Devils that year before beating his initial timeline for remission by six months. Boyle announced that his cancer was in full remission in October 2018. And, for his indescribable bravery, was awarded the 2018 Bill Masterton Trophy
Needless to say, don't tell Brian Boyle he can't do something. He'll prove you wrong.
Boyle attended Penguins camp this year on a PTO, hoping to prove there was still a place for him in the league that passed over him entirely last season. As it turns out, he was right. And he's not just there to watch from the sidelines, either.
With both Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin set to miss the first few weeks of the regular season, the Penguins are in quite the pickle, desperately seeking depth up the middle with particular focus on their bottom-six. Boyle can give them exactly that, providing solid value in the face-off dot while absorbing a large chunk of the team's defensive zone starts in order to afford Pittsburgh's top-six some more favourable usage.
Boyle is far from the player he once was. That's just the harsh reality of this thing we call age. It comes for us all. But he's been a solid possession driver over the past few seasons, particularly during his stints with the Devils and Nashville Predators. In a purely defensive role with a penalty kill draw or two, the veteran still has something to give.
And for someone who's defied the odds all his life, it wouldn't be smart to bet against him.