The 28-year-old centre signed with the JYP Jyvaskyla team in the Finnish Elite Hockey League on Monday, and was scheduled to leave Toronto on Tuesday night for the 13-hour trip to Helsinki.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to see what the options were with the NHL coming back,” said Boyce in a phone interview with the Journal Pioneer on Tuesday morning. “Things are still not far enough along in the NHL to see what their teams are like and what they have, and I need to get back to playing. This opportunity came about and I decided to go.”
What does Boyce know about the league and the JYP team?
“I don’t know too much,” he answered. “A couple of guys I know have played there, and I have read some things about guys who went over to play there at the start of the year.
“The only thing I know about Finland is there is not too much sunlight. They only get three or four hours a day of sunlight, and it is pretty dark.
“The competition level they say is just as high as anywhere, and that’s the part I’m most excited about.”
Boyce played in 37 National Hockey League games with the Columbus Blue Jackets and Toronto Maple Leafs last year. He started this season on a 25-game pro tryout with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the American Hockey League, but was released after recording one goal and six assists in 22 games.
“The last couple of weeks I’ve been trying to see what the options were with the NHL coming back. Things are still not far enough along in the NHL to see what their teams are like and what they have, and I need to get back to playing. This opportunity came about and I decided to go.” - Darryl Boyce
“It’s been quite a boring month of not playing hockey,” said Boyce. “It was nice to get an extended Christmas break, but after you have been sitting home for more than five weeks you get a little restless, and you miss that competition of playing professional hockey. . .
“It’s not the life I’m cut out for, especially now when I’m young and sort of coming off the best year of my life. Sitting around is definitely not the way I want to be living right now.”
Boyce “tried to stay in skating shape” by skating about five times a week with a couple of teams during the past few weeks.
Boyce said he could make his debut with JYP as early as Thursday.
“Hopefully I’m not too jet-lagged from the travel,” chuckled Boyce. “It will be nice to get thrown right into the fire. I just want to get playing hockey.”