With longtime Boston Bruins center David Krejci off to Czech Republic for this season, the responsibilities and expectations for Charlie Coyle have ramped up for this upcoming season. Bruce Cassidy said the 29-year-old Coyle has the inside track on the No. 2 center spot to fill the void left by Krejci, and that means the Boston Bruins are hoping for more than the six goals and 16 points he posted in 51 games last season.
There was a significant reason behind Coyle’s struggles last season, however, as it was learned that the Weymouth native was suffering from “an avulsion fracture in his left kneecap and a small tear of the patellar tendon” that both needed to be repaired through offseason surgery. The expectation was that Coyle would be ready to go by Boston Bruins training camp in the middle of the September, and that appears to still be on track as he hit the ice for the first time this week while working his way back from the surgery.
“I didn’t really know what to expect (with the surgery),” Coyle said during Wednesday’s WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. “You listen to your doctors and trainers, and all that and see timelines. But yeah, I’m doing great. I’ve been doing great from the start.
“I got on the ice for the first time [on Wednesday], which was an awesome step. Felt really good. But I’ve been in the gym, doing my (physical therapy), all that stuff every day. Just trying to make sure I’m doing things the right way so I can finally put this thing behind me and be firing on both legs.”
The Boston Bruins will be looking for something closer to the 16 goals and 37 points he put up in 70 games during his first season in Boston, and Coyle’s offense should be boosted while consistently playing next to skilled left winger Taylor Hall. That being said, it sounds like there will be some competition for the No. 2 center spot between Coyle and 21-year-old Jack Studnicka as the Bruins look to fill a No. 2 center spot for the first time in about 13 years since Krejci arrived on the Boston scene for good.
“The obvious choice is Charlie Coyle. He’s the most familiar with our guys and I’m the most familiar with him, and that would allow the other guys to fall into place. I know [Erik] Haula and [Tomas] Nosek prefer to play in the middle,” said Bruce Cassidy, when asked about filling the No. 2 center spot with Krejci off to the Czech Republic. “Nick Foligno is a little more of a guy that will move around, so that’s probably how it will play out for him. So, it’s Charlie and Taylor Hall [on the second line], and [Craig] Smith was on that line last year. So, if Coyle can bring some of what [David Krejci] did then that’s going to be a really good line.
“That’s the way we’re leaning, and we’ll see how all of the other pieces shake out. Jake [DeBrusk] obviously on the left side third line behind Brad and Taylor would be a good fit for him to start, and we’ll see where it goes for the other guys. We added some good pieces that can move around. I know Haula and Nosek prefer to play in the middle. We had [Trent Frederic] in there at times and on the wing at times. Then there’s Jack Studnicka and how he’ll fit in. Some of that will depend on his growth. He didn’t get to play a lot of hockey last year unfortunately, and like a lot of young players he missed time because of the COVID restrictions. But he’s also in the mix. He looks bigger and he’s really going to be pushing for a spot, so I have to include him in that mix as well.”