Don Smith/Getty Images
Despite a slew of rugged, less heralded Sharks defensemen, there's simply no denying Dan Boyle's combination of leadership and on-ice production.
I tried, please believe me, I tried. I didn’t want to go with two current defensemen. I was entirely prepared to make Dan Boyle the fodder for comments.
But as I sat comparing defensemen of San Jose’s past, they all left something to be desired. Mike Rathje’s career was riddled with injuries. Sandis Ozolinsh, despite logging the best season ever by a Sharks defenseman, only played the one full season for San Jose. And I didn’t want Marcus Ragnarsson to simply be a token representative of the early years.
I had finally settled on Scott Hannan as a perfect mix of new and old but could not honestly answer the question: “How can Hannan be better than Boyle?”
Despite his defensive shortcomings, in a league where offensive defensemen are essential to team success, this second spot simply can’t not belong to Boyle.
He leads all Sharks defensemen in goals, assists and points. Since his arrival in 2008, Boyle has led the Sharks in ice time each season and quarterbacks a power play that has never finished a season below 20 percent.
But Boyle’s contributions go beyond the stat line. He is a fierce competitor and a vocal leader both on and off the ice for a team that has lacked one in recent years. His fluid skating and on-ice direction provides organization to the team defensively any time he's on the ice.
Honorable Mentions: Mike Rathje, Scott Hannan, Marcus Ragnarsson, Sandis Ozolinsh