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October 07, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Bob Joyce

A product of Saskatchewan's famous Notre Dame Hounds, Joyce joined the University of North Dakota in 1984 where he quickly established himself as on of the best hockey players in American college hockey. By 1986-87 he scored 52 goals in 48 games, earning a berth on the WCHA First All-Star Team, NCAA West First All-American Team, and NCAA All-Tournament Team.

Joyce dropped out of school a year earlier in order to play under Dave King with the Canadian National team. It was a great opportunity for Joyce to learn to play under one of the best coaches in hockey, and also gave him a chance to play for his country in the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Canada. Joyce learned the defensive aspects of the game under King and his skating improved on the big ice surface. He scored 12 goals and 10 assists in IIHF sanctioned events and appeared in 4 Olympic matches, scoring one goal.


Joyce lost his spot in the Olympic line up to Jim Peplinski, who was parachuted in after being loaned to the Olympic program from the Calgary Flames.


"I was disappointed. I worked a long time to play and I didn't get much of a chance during the Olympics, but that's the way hockey goes. It was a coach's decision. That's hockey."
"It was a different kind of game and maybe I didn't adapt as well as I should and that's why I didn't play more," he said.
Joyce seemed to be a young player who lost his confidence by this stage. He was a goal scorer who was turned into a checker and that became a polarizing analysis of both Joyce and Dave King's plans.

"We have to get him out of there and deprogram him," said Boston Bruins boss Harry Sinden of his prized prospect and his change of game. 

"Personally it was tough," Joyce said. "It was frustrating because you want to play in the other team's end. That's the fun part. With the Olympic team it was one man in, two men back," he explained. "Here it's two in and you grind it out down low. That's kinda the way I played all my life.

But through it all, Joyce knew King was right.


"We would never have beaten the Russians if we didn't play the style we did," he said. "You tend to lose a little bit of the offence, but the coach has do what he has to in order to win and we beat the Russians two out of three."
And he only grew to appreciate his time with the nation team as time passed.
"There's no greater pressure situation than the Olympic Games," he said. I'm a more well-rounded person because of the Olympic experience and able to handle it better.
"The further I'm away from it the more I appreciate having the opportunity to play with the Olympic team. It was more than being on the ice. It was the whole atmosphere. I learned a lot from coach King and the bunch there and I appreciate it."
Joyce was Boston's 4th choice, 82nd overall in the 1984 Entry Draft. He joined the Bruins after the 1988 Olympics, scoring 7 goals and 5 assists in only 15 games. He added 8 more goals and 6 assists in 23 playoff contests helping the Bruins advance to the Stanley Cup finals against the mighty Edmonton Oilers. Along side Joyce was another Bruin prospect who also played in the Olympics. New Englander Craig Janney had a strong Olympic tournament for Team USA and chipped in 7 goals and 16 points in his 15 post-Olympic NHL games. He also added 16 points in the playoffs.

In a calendar year, the St. John, New Brunswick native went from being a top college hockey player to an Olympian to playing in the Stanley Cup Finals and was the talk of Boston. Needless to say, there was a lot of expectations placed upon the young winger after that season.

Joyce had a somewhat disappointing season in his official rookie season of 1988-89. He scored 18 times and added 31 assists for 49 points. He had a strong playoff scoring 5 goals in 9 games. To make matters worse, Boston's other hot rookie Craig Janney was emerging as the NHL star people expected him to be. Joyce was not.

Joyce had a terrible start to a forgettable 1989-90 season. He battled injuries and the coach's dog house as he struggled to a 1 goal, 2 assist performance in 23 games. Clearly Joyce had lost all his confidence and a change of scenery was needed for all involved. So the Bruins sent him to Washington in exchange for NHL veteran Dave Christian.

Joyce finished the season with Washington but by early in the 1990-91 campaign he found himself playing in the American hockey league. In the summer of 1991 he was included in a 6 minor league player swap between Washington and Winnipeg.

Joyce would only play two games with the Jets in two years. He spent most of those two seasons playing in Moncton, New Brunswick with the Jets farm team. He enjoyed his two most productive professional seasons with the Moncton Hawks.

Joyce was let go by the Jets in 1993 and there were no takers for his services. He signed a two year deal with the IHL's Las Vegas Thunder and followed that up with a two year contract with the Orlando Solar Bears, also of the IHL. His 4 seasons in the IHL were largely unproductive He headed to Europe at the end of the 1997 season, playing three more seasons in Germany.

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