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Boyd Right At Home On The Ice

Panthers 2010 seventh rounder RJ Boyd pursues his dreams to become first Florida raised player to play for Florida team.

Friday, 07.29.2011 / 1:45 PM ET / News
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Boyd Right At Home On The Ice
R.J. Boyd skates recently in a practice at Panthers Development Camp (Glenn Odebralski)
By Yana Loftus-Farren for floridapanthers.com

Despite growing up in the Sunshine State, R.J. Boyd is comfortable on the ice. 

Boyd was a talented young athlete, playing both baseball and lacrosse as a child, but it was his involvement in roller hockey that eventually led him down the path of becoming a pro hockey player. 

“I played roller hockey and then they built an ice rink near my house so I just decided to switch over,” said Boyd.

The development of the new facility in his hometown of Sarasota, Florida motivated Boyd to join the Florida Eels Ice Hockey organization at the age of 12. According to Eels General Manager Frank Scarpaci, their primary mission is to develop players for college hockey, so when one of their players gets drafted to the NHL it’s considered “icing on the cake.”

Although Boyd got off to a late start in comparison to most hockey players, as a defenseman he possessed the talent, skating ability, speed and size to work his way up the ranks of professional hockey. However when asked during the recent Panthers Development Camp what his biggest difficulty has been in making it to his current standing, Boyd answered honestly.

“Definitely the fact that I haven’t been playing my whole life…A lot of these guys in here have been skating since they were two years old, and they come from a huge family background of hockey," said Boyd. "My parents never played hockey; they were football and volleyball players.”

This is not to say he wasn’t familiar with the game as a child. Growing up in Detroit, Boyd’s father was an avid Red Wings fan and the family often drove throughout the state of Florida to attend Panthers and Lightning games.

In 2007, Boyd took his talents to Cushing Academy in order to further his advancement in hockey. The college preparatory boarding school, located in Massachusetts, is recognized for its prestigious academic program as well as a thriving athletics department. The Cushing ice hockey team has produced a number of notable National Hockey League players including Keith Yandle and Zach Bogosian. 

By the time senior year rolled around, Boyd had the stats to catch and hold the attention of professional scouts; he scored four goals and chipped in 18 assists in 31 games during his fourth year at Cushing. It was at that point where his thoughts on hockey as a future changed.

“The Panthers had started talking to me more and I figured I might be drafted," said Boyd. "That eventually changed my vision for my life and what I wanted to pursue in life.”

Soon after the close of the 2010 season, Boyd was selected by the Panthers with the third pick in the seventh round (182 overall). In that moment not only did he get one step closer to realizing his dreams of playing in the NHL, Boyd also made hockey history by becoming the first Florida raised player to be drafted by a Florida team.

After a less than satisfying 2010-2011 season, which he started at Sacred Heart University and finished with the Chicago Steel of the United States Hockey League, Boyd remains motivated and positive about the future. He was recently traded to the Indiana Ice (also of the USHL), leaving him optimistic for the upcoming season.

“Indiana will be a great team and I hope to win the league in the USHL,” said Boyd.

Although it will be some time before he potentially hits the ice as a Panther, Boyd expressed excitement to return to Florida for several reasons: he will have the chance to represent his home state on the ice and he will once again live in close proximity to his family and friends that reside in the area.

As the Panthers look forward to his potential arrival to South Florida, the excitement is mutual.




1 p - NYR 82 53 22 7 248 187 113
2 y - MTL 82 50 22 10 214 184 110
3 x - TBL 82 50 24 8 259 206 108
4 x - WSH 82 45 26 11 237 199 101
5 x - NYI 82 47 28 7 245 224 101
6 x - DET 82 43 25 14 231 211 100
7 x - OTT 82 43 26 13 232 208 99
8 x - PIT 82 43 27 12 217 204 98
9 BOS 82 41 27 14 209 201 96
10 FLA 82 38 29 15 198 213 91
11 CBJ 82 42 35 5 227 248 89
12 PHI 82 33 31 18 212 223 84
13 NJD 82 32 36 14 176 209 78
14 CAR 82 30 41 11 183 219 71
15 TOR 82 30 44 8 206 257 68
16 BUF 82 23 51 8 153 269 54


J. Huberdeau 79 15 39 10 54
J. Jokinen 81 8 36 -2 44
N. Bjugstad 72 24 19 -7 43
A. Ekblad 81 12 27 12 39
B. Boyes 78 14 24 11 38
A. Barkov 71 16 20 -4 36
J. Hayes 72 19 16 -4 35
B. Campbell 82 3 24 4 27
B. Pirri 49 22 2 6 24
D. Bolland 53 6 17 4 23
R. Luongo 28 19 12 .921 2.35
A. Montoya 6 7 2 .892 3.01

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