Kyle Laughlin is many things to many people.
To Providence College coach Tim Army, Laughlin is a junior co-captain and a valuable leader on a young team (17 Friars are either freshmen or sophomores).
To Hockey East, he seemingly is a permanent fixture on the conference’s All-Academic Team.
To a Providence teenager, he was a tutor who gave tirelessly of himself to help the boy improve his grades.
To the school’s Student Athletic Committee (SAC), he’s an active member who’s involved in the group’s various charitable endeavors as well as an NCAA survey that seeks the opinion of student-athletes on issues that impact their careers.
“What’s most important for me is, this is college sports, so you want someone who is reflective of what a student-athlete should be,” said Army. “And that’s Kyle. He’s come in and performed so well in the classroom and integrating on campus.
“We held a team vote (for captains) but the coaches have input. Kyle was an overwhelming choice with Jon Rheault as a co-captain. When a team speaks like this, the player definitely is a team leader.”
Laughlin certainly leads in the classroom. As a sophomore, he recorded a 3.85 GPA while majoring in philosophy.
Twice he’s been named to the Hockey East All-Academic Team, and last season he was one of seven players with the top GPAs by position also honored by the conference.
In addition, he received Providence’s Academic Award last season plus the Thomas Eccleston Jr. Unsung Hero Award.
While Laughlin wouldn’t have passed up a chance to win the conference championship (Providence finished fifth in Hockey East and earned a quarterfinal matchup at fourth-seeded Boston College for the conference tournament), he gives little doubt about the satisfaction he receives from his off-ice activities.
“In high school you’re 15 or 16 and you’re not interested in this,” he said. “But I matured a little bit before I graduated from (Severn, Md.) high school.
“In hindsight, it opened my eyes. It’s definitely enjoyable doing things like that and seeing other people being able to succeed in areas where they haven’t been successful.”
Two years ago Laughlin volunteered to tutor a middle school student who was “really struggling.”
“He seemed to be a kid with no direction,” said Laughlin, whose father, Craig, played in the NHL for nine years and currently serves as a television analyst for the Washington Capitals. “He had a difficult time being focused but he seemed to be really into hockey. His mom took him to games and he looked up to the hockey players.”
Along with teammate Chris Mannix, Laughlin tutored the boy in subjects that were particularly troublesome.
“His grades went from D-C up to C-B with some As,” said Laughlin. “His mom was very pleased.”
The same could be said of groups that benefit from the work of SAC, a group of student-athletes (two from each Friar team) that meets biweekly and communicates with and advises the department of athletics administrators to discuss and act on various issues that involve serving the community.
“At Christmastime we participate with churches, elementary schools and hospitals and have a baby drive where each team tries to bring in baby items like diapers and food,” said Laughlin. “We donate them to an organization for single mothers.
“The time of year dictates what we’ll do but it goes on throughout the school year.”
In retrospect, a case could be made that what Laughlin means off the ice to Providence College is of similar — if not greater — significance than what he means while wearing Friar black-and-white.