February 23, 2016

Lyndon Byers

Lyndon Byers played in an impressive 279 career NHL games, almost all with Boston with a brief conclusion in San Jose.

With 28 goals and 1081 penalty minutes in 10 NHL season, it does not take much imagination to figure out what his role was.

Byers was a rambunctious tough guy. Byers had 92 fighting majors in his career, including an amazing 24 in one season. He could be an effective forechecker and cornerman, but he was there mostly to be released for occasional shifts to create mayhem.

It was not always that way. He twice scored 32 goals with the Western Hockey League's Regina Pats and played for Team Canada at the 1984 World Junior Hockey Championships.

That, as much as his willingness to play the physical game, got him drafted in the second round (39th overall) by the Bruins.

As a rookie under coach Gerry Cheevers in 1984, Byers scored eight points in eleven games while playing on a line with Tom Fergus and Geoff Courtnall. But he blew his knee out, and then got himself in trouble in Boston. The money - a paltry sum by today's standards - came a little too easy for Byers.

"I proceeded to party myself out of a job. I was a young guy and the city of Boston, it's a great city to be young and I took full advantage of it," said Byers in Greg Oliver and Richard Kamchen's book Don't Call Me Goon.

Byers was demoted to the minor leagues where, when healthy, he played primarily for the next three seasons. He suffered serious injuries to both knees and both shoulders, costing him much time.

Through the constant setbacks and pain of his injuries, Byers matured and appreciated what it meant to be a pro hockey player. He worked tirelessly at rehabbing and returning to the NHL.

In the 1987-88 season, under coach Terry O'Reilly, Byers enjoyed his best NHL season. Playing on a rough and tumble line with Jay Miller and Bill O'Dwyer, Byers scored 10 goals and 24 points to go along with 236 minutes in penalties.

"I was lucky enough to have Jay Miller on my side," Byers explained. "Jay and I'd be up, and Jay'd always ask, 'Well, who do you want?' Well, I'm not stupid, I'd say, 'I want the lesser tougher guy that you're gonna fight.' And Jay always stepped up to take the heavyweights."

The injuries returned, not surprisingly. He missed much of the 1990-91 season with a badly broken foot. The next season his career came in Boston came to a close after suffering a broken neck and back after a clean hit from Quebec's Normand Rochefort.

Looking at his medical history, the Bruins opted not to tender Byers a contract. Byers would sign with the expansion San Jose Sharks, playing in 18 more games and scoring four more goals.

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