When Darryl Boyce and Jay Rosehill were placed on waivers Friday afternoon, there was much speculation as to whether this move was to open up a roster spot for a young player from the Toronto Marlies or perhaps to pave the way for a trade.
At about noon on Saturday, Boyce was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets. Less than an hour later, winger Matt Frattin was recalled from the Marlies. Rosehill cleared waivers as expected.
Boyce, a native of Summerside, P.E.I., played in 17 games with the Leafs this season, recording one goal and one assist. He has played 64 career NHL games, all with the Leafs, recording a total of six goals and nine assists.
A tough grinder who was willing to drop the gloves if necessary, Boyce was a valuable member of the Leafs' bottom-six group. Here was a guy who you could knock down, but you could never keep down.
On February 3rd, 2011, when the Leafs were facing the visiting Carolina Hurricanes, Boyce just missed a Carolina player with a check and slammed into the end boards.
He went down and stayed down.
It looked bad, but it wasn't clear to anyone exactly how bad it was until later, when it was discovered that Boyce had part of his nose almost severed because he had actually crashed face-first into a photographer's camera hole.
Photos that surfaced of his injury were gruesome, and nobody expected him to be in the lineup anytime soon.
Less than 48 hours later, Boyce was suited up and ready to play against the Buffalo Sabres. It was a testament to his strength and character that he was able to return to the ice so soon after suffering such a horrific injury.
Few other players on the Leaf roster played with as much determination and passion on a regular basis as Boyce did.
The loss of the feisty winger via waivers was a tough, but perhaps necessary move, as the Leafs prepare to stop their losing ways and make one last desperate push to make the playoffs.
In Frattin, the Leafs get speed and some extra offense. The young rookie has five goals and five assists in 37 games for the Leafs this season.
The Leafs' fourth line of Mike Brown, David Steckel and either Colby Armstrong or Joey Crabb is pretty solid, so Frattin will likely play on the third line alongside Matthew Lombardi and Tim Connolly.
Again, it was tough to lose Boyce, but it may have been necessary to waive him in an attempt to infuse some life into a team that has been struggling mightily of late.
If each member of the Leafs can play as hard down the stretch as Boyce did every single game, the team will be guaranteed to make the playoffs this year.
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