On Day 61 of the NHL lockout, Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk is heading abroad to play in Austria, according to a tweet from CSNNE's Joe Haggerty. Boychuk is the 11th Bruin to seek ice time abroad.
He has signed with EC Red Bull Salzburg, which currently sits in ninth place in the 12-team Erste Bank Eishockey Liga. Winnipeg Jets defenseman Tobias Enstrom and New Jersey Devils forward David Clarkson each spent a few weeks with the team, but have since returned to North America.
Boychuk is the first to Bruin to sign in Austria, joining nine other NHL players. Tyler Myers and Thomas Vanek of the division rival Buffalo Sabres headline the group of NHLers who have played in the country this fall, which also includes Austrian-born starlet Michael Grabner.
Boychuk is coming off of a career year. He finished eighth overall in plus-minus, with an excellent plus-27 rating. His superb defensive play and monster slap shot formed a cornerstone of the Boston defense.
So far, a number of Boston Bruins have thrived in Europe. Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci have each averaged more than a point per game. Meanwhile, Tuukka Rask has excelled in the Czech Extraliga with spectacular numbers across the board.
As the lockout becomes increasingly bleak, players will continue to flee towards Europe in droves. Bruins fans will hope that Boychuk matches the overseas success of his Boston teammates while returning healthy and prepared for an NHL campaign.