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Coyle Using Training Camp to Settle In

Following trade, Cup Run, hometown kid finally has chance to soak things up

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins /

BOSTON - Charlie Coyle never had a chance to slow down.

When the Weymouth native was acquired from the Minnesota Wild on February 20, he was thrust into the spotlight as Boston's prime trade deadline acquisition. From learning a new system to adjusting to being back at home - and dealing with the fanfare that comes with being the hometown kid - Coyle had plenty on his plate as the Bruins charged towards the postseason.

On the ice, Coyle eventually got up to speed as Boston tacked on another six weeks to the hockey season with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final, but he didn't truly have a chance to settle into his new surroundings.

As such, the 27-year-old believes that getting the experience of a full training camp in Black & Gold will do him wonders as he enters his first full season in Boston.

"I was really looking forward to that, actually," said Coyle. "Obviously, came in halfway through the year and it's a little tougher to get to know the guys and get acclimated and all that, it's not ideal. So, to start fresh right from the get-go with everyone else, go through camp, preseason, and then start fresh with each other, you build chemistry that way, you get to know guys better. That's the ideal way to go."

Video: Coyle chats with media after Monday's skate

Coyle fit in seamlessly as Boston's third line center upon his arrival and while his offensive numbers didn't pop immediately, his veteran presence and dominant puck possession skills brought stability to a position that had been a revolving door throughout the regular season.

During the Bruins' postseason run, the pivot's impact reached another level. Coyle suited up for all 24 playoff games and was, arguably, Boston's best and most consistent forward, as he piled up 16 points (nine goals, seven assists), including three goals and an assist in the Stanley Cup Final.

Despite his mid-season arrival, Coyle believes that extra two months of playoff hockey was integral for his assimilation into Boston's dressing room.

"It's been great. We had a great run," said Coyle. "You see what it's like firsthand here, how everyone goes about their business, how it's such a team aspect and you see why this team is always so good. It makes you proud and happy to be part of that, and you want to add to that. 

"We had the summer to kind of regroup, refresh, come back. It's great to see everyone again and we have some motivation here, which is good. Everyone's been upbeat, practice has been going great so far, and we're looking forward to the strides that we take here early on."

Coyle has been back in his familiar third-line center role thus far in camp, with both Brett Ritchie and Danton Heinen - his linemate last season - alternating reps on the right side. On the left side, meanwhile, Coyle has been consistently flanked by young winger Anders Bjork.

"I hadn't really seen [Bjork] play live actually," said Coyle, who will center the Notre Dame product and Heinen on Thursday night againt Philadelphia. "I've seen clips here and there and heard about him. You can tell he's got some skill, he can skate, he's really smooth. I've loved playing with him a little bit here, just feeling him out and talking to him, getting to know him as a person. So, I think we're starting to gain a little chemistry that way, so we'll see how it goes as it goes on."

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy has said on several occasions during camp that his preference and intention is to have Coyle stay as his third-line center for the foreseeable future, with the possibility that at some point down the line - should one of Boston's young centers emerge - he gets a look as a top-six right wing.

"Let's just say we threw [Sean] Kuraly on that left wing, so now you've got Kuraly, Ritchie and Coyle," Cassidy said when asked how he sees the third line shaping up. "Those are [players] 6-2 and above, and 200-pound plus - would that be something that could work? Could they score enough? They certainly are going to possess the puck, certainly are going to be hard to play against.

"That kind of depends again on [Trent] Frederic, [Par] Lindholm, can they handle the [fourth-line] center spot? But Ritchie and Coyle, if it did work out, those are big bodies. Maybe they need someone who's like a [Danton] Heinen over there to make a few plays, or [Anders] Bjork for them as well."

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