Forward Charlie Coyle was 10 minutes away from leaving for the airport to depart for a two-game road trip with the Wild on Feb. 20 when he checked his cellphone and saw a missed call and text message from General Manager Paul Fenton.
“I knew,” Coyle said.
Instead of traveling to New York with the Wild, Coyle eventually ended up in St. Louis, where he met up with his new squad — the Bruins — after he was traded to Boston in exchange for winger Ryan Donato.
And while the change signaled a dream come true for the Massachusetts native, leaving Minnesota was still tough for the 27-year-old after playing his entire NHL career up to that point for only the Wild.
“I loved it,” Coyle said. “It feels like a second home. I was there for six, seven years. Met a lot of people. Great relationships. I love the organization, the staff, everyone. They made it fun to come to the rink every day and just have a good time.”
Coyle was back at Xcel Energy Center on Thursday with the Bruins, his 20th game since the trade — a span in which Boston has utilized the versatility that headlined Coyle’s skills while with the Wild.
After starting at center, Coyle moved to right wing amid injuries, but he’s now back up the middle in the position the Bruins envision him playing long-term.
Through his first 19 games, Coyle tallied two goals and six points.
“Each game I’m trying to find my game a little more and just be consistent with it,” Coyle said.
A constant in the rumor mill during recent years, Coyle had gotten to the point this season where he felt calm amid the speculation since he knew it was out of his control. Still, when the trade was finalized, he was surprised.
“Obviously, your world changes like that in an instant and a million things go through your head,” said Coyle, who had 91 goals and 242 points in 479 regular-season games with the Wild. “You just try to adjust to it and take it in stride.”
And making that transition in a familiar setting has been an enjoyable process.
“It’s nice to be home,” said Coyle, who is from East Weymouth, Mass. “My family really appreciates it. Just to see them more, it’s a lot of fun to be with your family and seem them as much as possible. So in order to do that and do what I do and do what I love is pretty special.”
Game No. 1
Three days after leaving Clarkson to turn pro and sign a one-year, entry-level contract with the Wild, Nico Sturm made his NHL debut against the Bruins — centering Jordan Greenway and Victor Rask. His parents and younger brother attended the game.
“Just trying to soak it all in and just play hockey, play the way that got me here,” said Sturm, who had three shots and two hits in 13 minutes, 20 seconds of ice time. “I’m excited my family gets to experience it with me, and guys have been super helpful and supported me.”
Donato didn’t meet Sturm until this week, but he remembered playing against Sturm in college when Donato was still at Harvard and Sturm stood out as one of Clarkson’s best players.
“He’s very smart, consistent,” Donato said. “I think he can play in any role. He’s a good power-play guy, penalty-kill guy. Very dynamic in that sense and also can score goals.”
Winger Zach Parise didn’t play Thursday in the Wild’s final home game and will also sit out Saturday’s season finale in Dallas against the Stars.
Parise returned to the lineup Tuesday against the Winnipeg Jets after missing the previous four games because of a lower-body injury. Coach Bruce Boudreau also mentioned Parise is sick.
Backup Alex Stalock started against Boston. Boudreau said he wasn’t sure which goalie would get the nod Saturday.