He is a Stanley Cup champion, an Olympic gold medalist, and a veteran of over 1,200 National Hockey League games.
But of course, it seems like yesterday when Dan Boyle was just beginning to make his mark as a mobile, puck-rushing defenseman in the NHL and a friend told him about a martial arts guru and his workout.
“My first reaction,” chuckles Boyle, a Greco disciple for 15 years now, “was that it didn’t sound like exactly what I needed.”
So it took him a year to get to a Greco club, but not nearly as long to realize that connecting with Greco workouts “was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”
Boyle is six months into his retirement from 17-years in professional hockey with the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, San Jose Sharks and New York Rangers. For most of his career, he returned to his native Ottawa during the summer, and spent his offseason training at Greco.
Boyle announced over the summer that he had skated his final laps, and although the spotlight on him has dimmed, there are still physical and athletic challenges he gets excited about.
“Even now, I was just in Ottawa and I did three days of Lean & Fit,” said Boyle. “Tony wasn’t there, but you could feel his energy and his creativity. Greco’s workouts are exciting—something to look forward to.
“Tony is such a great motivator and he puts the passion for what he does into his programs. Most people will find they get more from a 45-minute Greco workout than they would two hours anywhere else.”
As a defenseman always counted on to produce offense and quarterback a power play, Boyle’s role demanded agility, quickness and explosive strength . After his summer workouts, Boyle said he always stepped onto training camp ice each fall “feeling overall stronger, and physically prepared for the season.
“There’s still an old-school mentality that says the guy who can bench the most is in the best shape for a hockey season, but that’s nowhere near the case.”
Another hallmark of Boyle’s career was remarkable durability. If not for a skate cut to his wrist, and a concussion, he practically enjoyed 17 years of full 82 game seasons. He credits his commitment to fitness for his iron-man run of health. Up until his mid-30s, Boyle was a workhorse, logging up to 30 minutes of action per game. As he played less over his last few years, he made up for it by training harder off the ice.
Still, there was Boyle, jumping into holes offensively for the New York Rangers, right up until the end of his career, when he was just months shy of his 40th birthday. “I probably worked out more over the last three or four years than I did the previous 10 years,” added Boyle, who recorded 605 points in 1,093 regular season games, including a career-high 62 with San Jose in 2006-07.
Boyle may have gone undrafted, but was undaunted. After a sterling four-year collegiate career at Miami (Ohio) University in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association, he signed as a free agent with the Panthers in 1998. His next big break came when he got traded to the NHL’s other Florida franchise, the Tampa Bay Lightning. Boyle didn’t have to change his license plates, but he changed his legacy in the game by helping the Lightning to a Stanley Cup in 2004. He made another appearance in the Cup finals with the Rangers in 2015.
After retiring, Boyle joked to his wife that he was giving himself permission to gain 20 pounds. Shortly after Christmas this year, Boyle stepped on the scale and was happy to see he’d put on all of six pounds.
Of course, he still gets to a gym five days a week and goes for three long runs.
“Fitness remains a bit part of my life,” he says, “and it always will be.”