By: Jake Reiser
When Minnesota Wild coach Mike Yeo thinks of Charlie Coyle, he thinks of the prototypical power forward.
“He’s a guy that’s got great size for one, but when you think of a power forward, you think of a guy who can finish checks, a guy who can be physical on the forecheck,” Yeo said. “But I think more than, I think of a guy who can be a really tough guy to contain and to defend. He’s a guy that, when he’s playing big, it’s almost impossible to get the puck off of him.”
For all his success in the NHL, Coyle comes from humble beginnings, right here in Massachusetts. He played at Boston University for a year and a half, then made the decision to move the Saint John Sea Dogs of the QMJHL.
On Wednesday, the Wild practiced at Agganis Arena in preparation for their game tomorrow against the Boston Bruins, and Coyle found it nostalgic to be back in a rink that prepared him for a bright hockey future.
“It’s always nice. I had a good time here, brings back good memories, just nice to be in this building again.” Coyle enjoyed some success in his time as a Terrier, with 26 points in 37 games in 2010-11 and 14 points.
But it was his 23 games with the Sea Dogs that propelled Coyle to much higher on the NHL draft board. In that span, he scored 15 goals and 23 assists to give him 38 total points. In just 17 playoff games later that year, he put up almost the same amount of points, the same 15 goals and a similar 19 assists for 34 total points.
“Every league helped me to get to where I am,” said Coyle. “Going to Saint John, it was more of an NHL type schedule, playing more games, more touches of the puck, and working on my defensive game a little more.”
Into the Wild: Charlie Coyle and the NHL
The NHL took notice of where the forward was even before he attended BU, as the San Jose Sharks drafted Coyle 28th overall in the 2010 Entry Draft. Not even 24 hours after being drafted, he was sent to the Wild for Brent Burns, Devin Setoguchi and a first round pick in the 2011 draft.
Coyle split time between the then Houston Aeros and the Wild themselves, scoring his first NHL goal against the Calgary Flames. In his third full NHL season, Coyle is learning how to put up points, with nine points (4G, 5A) in 17 games played.
“You’re always growing as a player, you’re aiming to get better and better, and I think I definitely took some steps. I still feel like I’ve got a ways to go, but I feel like I’m headed in the right direction. It just comes with confidence and experience, and I have a few years under my belt now. I’m still looking to get better but I think I’ve come a long way.”
Coyle sits in a place where he’s been able to look at two major hockey hotbeds, Boston and Minnesota, and he sees many similarities in both.
“Both are great, growing up in the Boston area, you always take pride, great hockey here, and Minnesota is no different. You go to high school hockey games there, and they pack our arena every night. You can tell by that it’s just a hockey community. The crowds we get out there, its unbelievable. Hockey in Minnesota and Boston are so similar, it’s great to see fans like that, passionate, people taking pride in hockey.”
The Wild sit with 23 points in the Western Conference, the first wildcard spot, and prepare to take on the Bruins Thursday night at TD Garden.