On the night of Feb. 8—when Charlie Coyle broke the Minnesota Wild franchise record for consecutive games played—reporters, PR flacks and fans went on a tweetstorm comparing the sometimes-forward, sometimes-center to a fictional, billionaire–genius–philanthropist, crime-fighting superhero. I’m pretty sure they were joking.
Fun. Cute. Funny. But think about it.
Have you ever seen Iron Man and Charlie Coyle in the same room together?
…I haven’t either…
On Feb. 8, I did not actually believe that Charlie Coyle was moonlighting as an indestructible vigilante in a flying, military-grade exoskeleton. But that was nearly a month ago, when Coyle had played in a mere 283 straight games. But now he’s approaching 300, a Herculean feat in the grueling NHL.
So how does the 25-year-old, in his fourth NHL season, stay on the ice, game after game, and year after year?
“Know that you want to be better and you can be a better player. That positive mindset is going to go a long way,” says Coyle. “That’s when you see results, become a better player and a better scorer.”
Coyle’s focus on improving his game starts at practice, absent national TV’s limelight and the applause and adoration of thousands of fans.
“What you’re going to do in practice, you’re going to do in a game,” says Coyle. “I think a huge thing for kids is to treat every drill like a game. If a rebound comes out, finish it. I get that some drills aren’t appropriate for that, but you have to get in that mindset. You work on that stuff and you’re going to see the separation.”
And for Coyle, how he has practiced has paid off. He can alternate between forward and center—whatever the team needs—and, he is just one assist shy of the century-mark for his career.
His selfless work ethic, combined with tireless persistence, has Coyle poised to continue to make a big impact for the Western Conference-leading Wild as they cap off a historic regular season.
Coyle’s advice to all the young skaters out there with big dreams?
“Never be complacent. You always want to get better.”
I never heard Tony Stark say that, but I did hear Charlie Coyle say it. After all, maybe he is Iron Man.
Or, with practice, maybe we all have a little Iron Man in us.
Charlie Coyle will play in his 300th consecutive NHL (Minnesota Wild) game on Sat., March 18, against the New York Rangers at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.