Johnny Boychuk sat in an unfamiliar place on Thursday morning - the visitor's locker room at TD Garden. Making his first return to Boston after his surprise trade to the New York Islanders just prior to the season, Boychuk was greeted by a throng of reporters, many of whom revealed a special surprise they had in store for the ex-Bruin.
At least a dozen Boston beatwriters welcomed Boychuk back by showing off freshly inked tattoos they had designed in his honor, saluting his six years in the black-and-gold. Ranging in size from a small name and number 55 across a forearm to full back tattoos depicting Boychuk fighting off dragons and Montreal Canadiens like a medieval knight, the body art is a tribute to Boychuk's stature among the Bruins fanbase.
"For Johnny, it's the least we could do," CSN New England writer Joe Haggerty said through an interpreter. "He had such a huge impact on this team and on this city that we wanted to find a way to remember him forever. These wicked tats are a sign of much respect."
Boychuk was clearly moved by the gesture, as reporter after reporter bodied their way up to his locker stall to show him their tattoos. The affable D-man smiled throughout, but blushed a little as receiving line continued.
"I've never seen my face in so many different places," Boychuk said. "Some of those places, I wish I hadn't seen, to be perfectly honest. But, um, thanks, guys."
Boychuk is enjoying a successful first few games as an Islander. He has helped his new team on the power play, something he never was given a chance to do in Boston, with two goals and three assists through six games. He has also been a steadying, veteran presence on a young Islanders roster that is showing rare signs of improvement for the mostly downtrodden and forgettable club.
There has already been talk about whether Boychuk, and unrestricted free agent after this season, will sign a contract extension with the Islanders. So far, both parties are open to discussions.
Meanwhile, the Bruins seem to be missing a little something so far this season, and multiple reports say the loss of Boychuk has upset the balance of the locker room. GM Peter Chiarelli traded Boychuk to get his team under the NHL's salary cap, and may already regret not making different moves to achieve that goal.
But even if he isn't a Bruin, the rugged and ready Boychuk will still maintain a presence at their games in tattoo form forever.
"We can't be with Johnny that much any more, but we can still see him every day," said WEEI writer D.J. Bean. "My tattoo sleeve of Johnny hoisting the 2011 Stanley Cup is a constant reminder of all the good times we had together."
Boychuk will always have a special place in Boston's heart, as well as the many ankles, necks, chests, biceps, lower backs and other body parts his visage has been tattooed on permanently.
"Johnny is a great person and was a great Bruin. We miss him," Haggerty said. "By getting this ink, it's like I have a little bit of his blood coursing through my veins. When I laugh, when I cry and when I'm asleep, I can feel him comforting me from the inside because I know deep down, he will always have this unbreakable bond."
This is fake it is not real I mean look at that picture come on. None of the quotes are real (I think).