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Lightning’s Brian Boyle set to play the villain against Islanders

in Sports/Top Headlines by

The noise will start when he enters the building. It will continue through warmups. It will linger until game time.

Brian Boyle of the Tampa Bay Lightning has become public enemy No. 1.

And furthermore, boo.

Oh, he wasn’t guilty of a cheap shot. Even the NHL shrugged when it saw footage of his hit on Thomas Hickey in Game Three. He was cleared before lunch, no matter how loudly New York Islanders’ coach Jack Capuano complained. Of course, Capuano is the coach who blew a lead with 38 seconds to go while at home. Don’t you think he wants the public to be talking about something else?

But it won’t matter. Boyle has become a place for the Islanders to vent their frustrations, their scorn, their anger. He is Darth Vader. He is Hannibal Lecter. He is Justin Abdelkader.

In a way, it’s right out of pro wrestling. Fans love a villain.

Remember the way the fans of the Philadelphia Flyers booed former Lightning coach John Tortorella. It’s going to be like that.

For Boyle, a role player with some grit, it’s going to be a little different. He played in New York where, like here, he was known for being a good teammate, but not a star. He has scored only twice in the playoffs. Only 13 times all year.

Tonight, however, he gets it from the cheap seats (provided there are any in the playoffs). Capuano will doubtless use it as an excuse that those roughnecks from Tampa are rampaging through Brooklyn. Grrr. Hey, why not?

If you’re Capuano, it beats having people talk about your coaching.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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