Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda frequently said how he “bled Dodger blue.”
The same could be said of Boston University sophomore forward Charlie Coyle, who, for all intents and purposes, bleeds — and has bled — Terriers red and white.
For starters, one of his cousins, Tony Amonte (who enjoyed a long NHL career and is ranked 11th in points scored by American-born players), played for the Terriers. Among other things, Amonte was voted to the 1991 Frozen Four all-tournament team.
Coyle also grew up in Weymouth, Mass., which is a long slap shot (about 18 miles) from Agganis Arena, and he played for the Boston Junior Terriers.
“I always was more of a BU guy because Tony went there and I grew up right outside the city,” said Coyle. “I said to myself when I was getting close to going to college that I always wanted to go to BU. When it got to that time, BU was the first school that talked to me. I didn’t talk to any other school.”
Then there was the matter of the Beanpot tournament. Given the Terriers’ success (BU has won 29 tournament titles since the 1952-53 season), it had a major impression on a young Coyle.
“I went to a bunch of Beanpots when I was little because I wanted to come here and play,” he said. “There’s nothing like it with four local teams going after the Beanpot trophy.
“It motivated me to keep working hard so I could [play for BU]. By that, I mean I was motivated not only to play hockey but also to do well with my studies. I knew the whole school thing that comes with it.”
Coyle played so well last season that he was named both the Hockey East and New England rookie of the year as he posted seven goals and 26 points. Five times, he was named Hockey East’s top performer.
Amonte and another cousin, Bobby Sheehan (who played three seasons in the NHL), played a role in Coyle’s development.
“Tony used to help me when I played at Thayer Academy,” said Coyle, who was named the 2010 EJHL rookie of the year after finishing fifth in scoring with 21-42–63 totals in 42 games. “He would give me tips here and there … just little things in practice and throughout a game.
“Tony and Bobby always say enjoy where you are and keep working hard because you only get four years in college to show your stuff.”
Coyle certainly has “showed his stuff” with USA Hockey.
Besides playing in the 2008 USA Select Festival, he later played for the 2009 U.S. National Under-18 Team in the Four Nations Cup in Pori, Finland, scoring the winning goal in Team USA’s final contest against Switzerland.
He later played for the U.S. Under-18 Team that competed in the 2009 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament in Slovakia and during his freshman year at BU he starred for the bronze-medal winning U.S. Team at the World Junior Championship Tournament in Buffalo (Coyle was named Team USA’s top forward).
In 2010 he participated in the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp and recorded three goals and three assists in seven games against teams from Finland, Sweden and the United States.
And earlier this year, he suited up for the U.S. National Junior Team, which earned the bronze medal at the World Junior Championship.
“I’ve been lucky to put on the USA jersey,” said Coyle. “I watched the World Junior tournament on TV when it won the gold medal two years ago. I thought it was unbelievable and it was some of the best hockey I’ve ever seen.
“Then, actually participating in it earlier this year … it’s hard to put into words what it was like. But that benefits you more because you’re participating in it yourself [as opposed to watching in front of a TV]. That’s the best way you learn … by going through it. Playing in those games and getting those experiences really benefitted me.”
Coyle eventually experienced being selected in the NHL Entry Draft.
San Jose picked him in the first round in 2010 and one year later traded his draft rights to the Minnesota Wild in a draft-day deal.
“Going into the  draft it was rumored I would be a late first or early second-round pick,” said Coyle. “I ended up going late in the first round. It was exciting. [San Jose] saw I’m a big body [6-foot-3, 215 pounds] and I had a pretty good year in the EJHL.
“When Minnesota made the trade, they saw the same thing. San Jose had a choice to make and Minnesota really saw something they wanted in me and I’m going to Minnesota.”
Despite all the accolades Coyle has received and the subsequent hype, especially leading up to the 2010 draft, coach Jack Parker didn’t have Coyle’s head measured for a larger helmet.
“You’re always going to have that … people talking you up,” said Coyle. “You have to block it out. That’s what I’ve tried to do all my life and keep improving. I just try to stay focused, keep a clear head and keep working hard.”