Eye injury ends Islanders' Johnny Boychuk's NHL career

Justin Cuthbert
·2 min read
UNIONDALE, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 29:  Johnny Boychuk #55 of the New York Islanders skates against the Boston Bruins at NYCB Live's Nassau Coliseum on February 29, 2020 in Uniondale, New York. Boston Bruins defeated the New York Islanders 4-0. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
New York Islanders defenceman Johnny Boychuk is stepping away from the NHL due to an eye injury. (Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)

The New York Islanders announced Wednesday that veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk’s career “has come to an end” due to an eye injury suffered last season.

Boychuk told Newsday back in July that he had nearly fully recovered from the injury suffered when he was cut by the skate blade of Montreal’s Artturi Lehkonen just before the NHL’s season was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March.

Ninety stitches and plastic surgery was required in order to prepare the damage and set Boychuk on a path toward recovery, an intervention which allowed the 36-year-old to dress in three postseason games for the Islanders once the NHL’s summer restart rolled around.

Boychuk told reporters shortly after the announcement that he picked up on issues related to the eye injury upon his return to the lineup, but only felt that something was seriously wrong after beginning to work out again in preparation for the upcoming season. “After numerous and extensive medical exams” on an eye that he had seriously injured previously in his career, it’s been determined that Boychuk has optic nerve damage, among other issues.

He says he made the “life choice” to step away.

Boychuk has not officially retired, and will instead likely be placed on injured reserve. That means the Islanders will are expected to bury the complete $6 million salary Boychuk is set to receive for the next two seasons.

At current moment, negotiations between the Islanders and restricted free agent star Mat Barzal have remained at a standstill with less than $4 million in cap space available to the organization for the 2020-21 season before the Boychuk LTIR calculation.

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