Charlie Coyle had learned to deal with hearing his name in trade rumors. So when Minnesota Wild general manager Paul Fenton called him in February and told him he had been traded, it wasn’t too big of a surprise.
The only surprise was that Fenton was unable to tell him where exactly he had been traded. The GM rushed to call Coyle so he didn’t get on a plane with his Wild teammates as they were set to depart on a two-game road trip to New York and Detroit.
“[I]t was a weird moment where I didn’t know I was being traded and I wasn’t on a team,” Coyle told NBC last week. “I didn’t know what team I was on for a couple hours. When I found out it was Boston I was pretty happy.”
After spending parts of seven seasons with the Wild, Coyle was coming home. The East Weymouth, Mass. native and Boston University alum played his youth hockey in the area and even led his high school team to the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association finals, which took place TD Garden, home of the Bruins, during his freshman year.
Growing up, Coyle had those same dreams that every hockey player in Massachusetts does: winning the Stanley Cup in a Bruins jersey.
“You think about it now, it gets closer and closer and you are that much closer to doing it,” he said. “You know, headed into the third round here, it’s become a reality. There is still a long way to go, but yeah, you go to bed every night and your mind wanders and that is where it wanders to, mostly to just thinking about what it is going to be like and just envisioning that. I think that helps.”
Now Coyle was entering a room full of idols, including players like Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, whom he watched as they won the 2011 Stanley Cup. But there was no time to think about that; he had to get to Las Vegas to meet his new teammates to enjoy an off day.
“I think as you get older you learn to just focus on the task at hand,” Coyle said. “You know, I can’t be in awe of you, I have to make sure I do my part here. I think when you’re younger you get that more and as you get older, more experience and more comfortable in this league, it kind of dies down. You just play. They are your teammates now and you are both fighting for the same thing and you both need each other on the same page, but they help out a lot.”
[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
Coyle got off to a slow start with the Bruins. He scored only twice in 21 games following the trade and was playing nearly a minute less than during his time in Minnesota. But in the postseason, the 27-year-old has found his groove. During their Round 1 series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, he scored three times and recorded four points. He opened Round 2 against the Columbus Blue Jackets in fashion with a pair of goals, including the game winner, during a 3-2 victory in Game 1.
While another local boy, Matt Grzelcyk of Charlestown, Mass., starred in the Bruins’ win in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against the Carolina Hurricanes, Coyle also made an impact with three assists.
Through 15 games in the 2019 postseason, Coyle is tied for fifth in scoring among all players with six goals and 12 points. His six goals are tied for first on the Bruins and he’s tied for second on team in points behind David Pastrnak‘s 15.
Coyle has become an integral part of the Bruins’ secondary scoring, which has helped put them two wins away from reaching the Stanley Cup Final. Following the February trade, it didn’t take his teammates long to figure out that his skillset would be a welcomed addition.
“He’s a big guy, strong powerful forward who is not easy to play against,” said Chara. “Having him as a hometown player gives us kind of a boost because those types of players who are playing for their hometowns are always welcome.”
“I feel very fortunate to be in this position and playing for such a great organization,” Coyle said. “Then you throw on top of it being from here and growing up and going to these games and wonder what it would be like playing with the spoked B on one day. So you throw all that in with my family being here and coming to more games, seeing me play live… I think just in life you want to be close to your family, spend as much time with your family as possible. For me, to do what I love every day and get to see them, they are right down the street pretty much, you can’t ask for much better.”
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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.