Bruins center Charlie Coyle has attended a championship parade — multiple, in fact.
While Coyle has yet to win a title as a professional, there has been no shortage of opportunities for the Weymouth native as a fan. Since Coyle was born in 1992, Boston sports teams have won six Super Bowls, four World Series, one NBA championship, and one Stanley Cup championship.
“I was just happy to skip school,” Coyle joked Tuesday morning at TD Garden. “It’s just crazy. So many people love it. It’s Boston, you know? It’s a big sports town.”
When the Bruins shut out the Vancouver Canucks in Game 7 of the 2011 Cup Final, however, Coyle found himself in a slightly awkward situation. He was in Weymouth, watching the title-clinching victory at a friend’s house, but had been selected 28th overall by the San Jose Sharks in the NHL Draft just about a year prior.
So, what’s a diehard Bruins fan, surrounded by more diehard Bruins fans, to do? Celebrate his hometown team’s first Stanley Cup championship in nearly four decades? Or feign a level of apathy so not to root for a competitor of the organization that just drafted him?
“It was a weird time for me,” Coyle said. “I was trying to play it kind of cool.”
Containing his excitement, of course, proved to be challenging. After all, there’s a photo of Coyle as a kid wearing a shirt that says “Future Bruin.” As he wrote in an essay for The Players’ Tribune, “Boston is in [his] blood.”
If the Bruins defeat the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 Wednesday night, there will be no need for Coyle to play it cool. Thanks to a trade ahead of the February deadline this season, Coyle will have the opportunity to hoist the Cup wearing a black and gold uniform at TD Garden — a moment he’s dreamed about since playing street hockey with neighbors in Weymouth.
“You always envision yourself trying to get there one day, you always make believe you’re actually playing,” Coyle said. “You play a best-of-seven series. Whenever it’s that Game 7, there’s a lot of hacking and whacking, too. It gets ugly, but it’s fun.”
Fantasizing about the Stanley Cup is by no means unique to Coyle.
For Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, the dream began with street hockey on Coldrey Avenue in the West End of Ottawa. Cassidy, who had a brief NHL career as a defenseman with the Chicago Blackhawks, said he liked to picture himself as Bruins legend Bobby Orr.
“If I didn’t score in Game 7 and we lost, we played it again,” recalled a smiling Cassidy. “That’s the way it went. I never imagined myself as a kid coaching. I’m not going to lie to you. It was as a player. But here I am. It’s the next best thing.”
For netminder Tuukka Rask, it started with watching Stanley Cup games via Finnish television when he was 6 or 7 years old.
“Those were pretty much the only games that we saw back in the day,” Rask said. “I remember the New Jersey Devils [winning in 1995] and New York Rangers winning [in 1994]. It was something that felt so distant for a kid from Finland. You just watch it on TV and dream one day that maybe you’ll play in the NHL.”
For Bruins forward Noel Acciari, another New England product, it started in Rhode Island.
“Mini sticks, outside, you’re always playing next goal wins Game 7,” Acciari said.
So, on the cusp of realizing a childhood dream, how does one stay calm?
“You try not to think too far ahead, obviously, but it’s hard not to,” Coyle said. “You have thoughts that go through your mind, and I’ve thought about a lot of scenarios and what it can be like. But for the most part, you just try to focus on the now and take care of what’s at stake now.
“All that other stuff will come.”
Included in all that other stuff, should the Bruins win?
Another championship parade. Only this time Coyle will be on the duck boat.