Devils C Brian Boyle has been feeling "better and better" since being diagnosed with Chronic Myeloid Leukemia in September.
Boyle spoke with the media for the first time since the diagnosis, and he immediately brought up how shocked he was by the support he's seen from the NHL community.
"I've been floored by it, my wife [Lauren], too," Boyle told NorthJersey.com's Andrew Gross. "We've gotten so many calss. Pittsburgh sent a letter signed by everyone, a little note from Sully [coach Mike Sullivan, Boyle's former assistant coach with the Rangers] and Sid [Crosby]."
The support has only boosted Boyle's efforts to fight off the cancer, and get back on the ice.
"It's motivated me especially, that I'm doing everything and I can beat this thing and get over it," he said. "From a few dark days where I was down as I've ever been to some decent news at the doctor to the outpouring of everybody, it's really been a 180 and I feel pretty good about it."
Boyle, who joined the Devils at the U.S. Military Academy for a three-day, team-bonding trip is being treated with medication instead of chemotherapy. He is scheduled for an evaluation on Tuesday, where he will get news as to whether or not he is allowed to practice.
"The bottom line is it is progressing," Boyle said. "I said I wanted to play on opening night because I think everybody does. But it's progressing. It's not necessarily the be all and the end all. If I'm cleared, I need to get in my own training at some point and actually be put in situations that are real instead of skating. I can skate for days now at this point but I haven't really bumped anyone or hit anyone. That's a huge part of your conditioning."
Boyle was able to participate in the team-building exercise on Sunday where small groups were tasked with carrying a heavy rock to the top of a mountain. He enjoyed being a part of the time besides team meetings.
"I want to be a part of it, I want to participate," Boyle said. "Yesterday was cool, I didn't have to sit on the sidelines."
The Devils open their 2017-18 season against the Avalanche, and though Boyle is expected to be present for that, it is unsure whether he will be allowed to travel with the team to Buffalo Monday or Toronto Wednesday.
"I trust them," Boyle said on the coaching staff. "I don't know how they do things, it's my first year here. I already feel I'm a little high maintenance with what's going on and I haven't played a game yet. I'll do as much as I can until I get cleared for the next hurdle."
The 32-year-old Boyle signed a two-year, $5.5 million contract with the Devils this offseason. He split the season with the Lightning and Maple Leafs last season where he tallied 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) in 75 games.