So let’s see here, we got….
Plus 52 more.
And that’s just the cousins on my dad’s side. I could start on my mom’s side, but I’d for sure miss the puck drop for Game 1.
I was raised in Weymouth, Mass., just south of Boston. That means I have a ton of cousins, and those cousins have their own cousins who have their own cousins. And whenever you get all of those people in the same place, two are certain: It’s going to be really, really loud, and there’s going to be hockey involved in some way.
Like a lot of people from Weymouth, I grew up in a hockey family. I’m cousins with Bobby Sheehan and Tony Amonte. Bobby retired before I was born, but I always followed Tony while he was playing. I only had two teams growing up: The B’s and whoever Tony was playing for.
When I wasn’t playing in a knock-down, drag-out street hockey game in my cul-de-sac, I was either at the rink or otherwise dreaming about hockey. I couldn’t help it, and neither could my cousins. Our dads all played, and they passed their passion for the game down to us.
My dad, Chuck, was the captain at Weymouth South back when the town had two high schools. He used to tell me about the crazy games they’d play against Weymouth North. There were a bunch of cousins on both teams, and apparently it was basically like a cage match.
Of course playing in the NHL was my dream — but way before that, I knew I wanted to play high school hockey in Weymouth, just like my dad.
I get asked quite a bit, and especially recently during this run, “What’s your greatest achievement as a hockey player?”
That an easy question, but before I dive into it, we’ll need a little mood music. Just press play and keep going.
The year was 2007. I was a relatively undersized freshman at Weymouth High who was lucky enough to make varsity. Our captain was Tim King. He was our best player and — you won’t friggin believe it — my cousin.
His younger brother, Trevor, was my age and we had played together a ton growing up. Our families were all very close, so the opportunity to represent Weymouth just like our dads had — it was everything.
Without question, the highlight of my career up to this point was playing with them in the Super Eight.
If you’re asking, “What’s the Super Eight?” well then, you’re not from Mass. And that’s fine, I guess — because nobody’s perfect.
The Super Eight is the biggest state high school hockey tournament in the universe. It’s where all the Catholic and (on rare occasions) public schools battle it out to determine the state champs.
Public high schools are generally at the bottom of the totem pole when it comes to high school hockey in the state. Our team actually went 19-1 during the regular season — the best record in the state — and we still only got slated as a five-seed in the tournament (out of 10 teams). But even then, just making the tournament as a public school was a huge accomplishment.
We were out there going against basically these all-star teams that were hand-picked by these Catholic schools. Then on the other side was us: the Bad News Bears out of Weymouth – AKA Public Nuisance. Safe to say outside expectations for us were pretty low going in.
So we play our first game in the tournament and win 3–2. And right away, it’s like, Holy s*** boys we won a game in the Super Eight!
Next game, we play the top seed in the state – Catholic Memorial. We won 2-1.
Boys! What’s even happening!
Next game, we play another big-time program — Central Catholic — and we beat them 5-2.
Now we’re undefeated in the round robin and there’s this buzz all around town. Everyone around Weymouth is rooting for us.
Now, get this: The semifinal game was at Harvard. Our public school team was getting to play on college ice — Harvard ice. We were so nervous, still over the moon just to be there, but then we go out and … we win again. This time 5-4 in OT to send us to the state championship — at The Garden. Where the B’s play. Come on, are you kidding me??
And then … well, now you can stop the music. Just press pause. Story’s over.
We don’t talk about what happened next. It’s not important. Barely remember it.
But this is all a long way of saying that — from the days I spent scraping my knees over street hockey, to the nights I spent screaming my lungs out over B’s games, to that magical run in the Super Eight with my boys in ‘07 — Boston isn’t just where I play now as a professional.
Boston is in my blood.
Boston raised me.
This place is my home.
Courtesy Charlie Coyle (2)
I still remember the first time I met Patrice Bergeron.
I was only 12 or 13 at the time, and we were playing in a tournament at Bridgewater Arena. The lockout was going on, and we heard the Providence B’s were playing a game there. It must’ve been Patrice’s first year in the league or around that, and he was playing for the P-Bruins at that time since the NHL was shutdown.
I still remember all of us waiting around outside the arena after the game, just to get a glance at some legit, real-life NHL players. When Patrice came out, we were all so pumped. He was giving the guys high fives and signing autographs. I was wide-eyed just being that close to him. I remember one of my teammates going in for a huge hug and he was cool with it. From that moment on, if anyone ever asked, I told them Patrice was the greatest. I was a lifelong fan.
At that time, the idea that we might one day be teammates never crossed my mind. I was an undersized teenager trying to fend off acne — and he was Patrice Bergeron.
That’s one of the reasons why, when I found out I was getting traded to Boston a few months ago, it took me a minute for it to really click, you know?
I actually found out that I had been traded before I knew which team I was going to be playing for. It was a weird situation where I knew I was for sure moving but didn’t know where because the trade hadn’t been finalized. So in the meantime, I was stuck in this sort of limbo where I had no answers and was just kind of refreshing Twitter over and over hoping for some kind of leak.
When I started seeing the Bruins pop up as a team I was rumored to be going to, I tried not to get my hopes up.
Me on the Bruins? My hometown team? Playing next to guys like Zee and Bergy? Come on that’s like fairy-tale stuff.
Then slowly, more and more sources started saying it was going to be Boston. My first thoughts, hockey aside, was how excited I was to get to be around my family. Outside of the countless cousins, I have two grandmothers who mean the world to me and I knew living in Boston meant I’d get to spend more time with them.
But from just a hockey perspective, there was nothing more you could ask for. The B’s always had a reputation for being one of the best organizations in the NHL, with a great room of guys. Beyond that, I was joining them as they were on a 19-game point streak. Honestly, the only thing I was concerned about was not screwing things up.
Not long after I found out the trade was official, the first two guys who called me were Bergy and Zee. Even though they had a game that night, they went out of their way to welcome me and say they were really excited for me to be on the team.
I played it mostly cool.
Steve Babineau/NHLI/Getty Images
So, fun fact for you: You only get two comped tickets per game when you play in the NHL.
As you can probably guess, that fact is not as fun when just about everybody you’re related to, vaguely related to or allegedly related to lives in the Boston area and are huge Bruins fans. When I first got here, I had guys I hadn’t spoken to since elementary school hitting me up for seats.
And look: I get it.
That Game 7 environment against the Leafs was just about the craziest thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. Like Roman Coliseum s***, with thousands of people screaming for blood. There’s no better atmosphere in hockey, and that’s not up for debate.
During our run to the finals, I’ve been trying my best to keep things level, to not get too swept up in the moment. In general, that’s not usually too hard for me. You won’t usually see me too high or too low.
But man, Boston makes it hard to stay level.
This is the City of Champions. The parade routes are well traveled. Everybody expects to win. If you don’t sense that pressure, you don’t have a pulse.
All it takes is a quick drive around the city to remember the stakes. You can’t escape the black and gold right now. It’s everywhere. I even got my parents and sisters sending me pictures from around the neighborhood in Weymouth of everyone putting B’s gear up on their cars and houses.
And while I really, really appreciate all that support, guys, I have no tickets for you. I’m sorry. I’m on the team and I’m barely getting in.
Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports
So maybe you’re still wondering, Hey Charlie, what ever happened during the final of the Super Eight?
Okay, fine. I’ll tell you.
We lost 6–1 in the Garden.
We actually scored the first goal of the game, but then collapsed.
Still, to this day, every time I’m back home around the boys, we reminisce about that run we made. We laugh about that time our team of misfits from Weymouth almost took the Super Eight.
But you know what? I’m sick of that “almost” being my proudest accomplishment.
I’m tired of the story stopping as soon as we talk about the championship game. I’m over being happy just to have made it that far.
I can’t go back in history and change that Super Eight final, but you better believe I’m going to give every ounce of effort I can to create a new favorite memory in the Garden for myself, my family and my boys who shocked the world back in ’07.
I want to win a Cup for Boston and Weymouth — for all the great people from my town who’ve supported me every step of the way. And I want to win one for all my cousins back home who I know are going to be losing their minds as soon as that puck drops.
Honestly I don’t how know I got here — but man, what an opportunity. Only four wins stand between us and the greatest trophy in sports. This city – these people – they deserve it. Now it’s time to go earn it.
Let’s bring it home.