Among the first questions when David Krejci returned to the Czech Republic was: Who is going to replace him on the second line?”
For Bruce Cassidy and others, the response was something to the effect of: “It’s Charlie Coyle’s job to lose.”
Coyle has spent the last two-plus seasons as the Bruins’ third line center, and the six-year contract extension he received from Boston suggests there is trust in him to take over for Krejci, who spent nearly his entire career pivoting the second unit.
“It’s an opportunity, right?” Coyle said Wednesday on NESN’s coverage of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon. “We have a lot of guys who can play that role, so it’s going to create that inner competition, which will make us a better team. That’s not my position right now, I’ve got to earn it. My job going in, I’ve got to be the best player I can. So, that’s my goal, is to get healthy, first off, and two, get my game going and be the best it can be. That’s a big role for our team, and I want to be a part of that.”
Among the others who will vie for the role include new additions Erik Haula and Nick Foligno, while Jack Studnicka could be an internal option for the job.
Again, though, it’s Coyle’s job to lose. And for the Bruins, the ideal has to be making sure Coyle can take over, because his skill set jives so well with the two wingers. Left winger Taylor Hall is a swift skater who can dazzle with the puck, while Craig Smith has a rocket of a shot. Coyle’s biggest asset is his puck-possession ability, which could create great playmaking opportunities for Hall and Smith.
Time will tell, but Coyle seems acutely aware of the opportunity in front of him.