Here’s another article on hockey toughness. The Star Tribune reports Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle played with not one, but two separated shoulders against the Chicago Blackhawks. Coyle was visibly in pain several times throughout the series and this report confirms the suspicion he was battling through an injury. Still, the fact Coyle suited up and played with both of his shoulder separated is absurd.
However, though this is undoubtedly another feather in the cap of the “hockey players are the toughest in sports” argument, at what point do you swallow your pride and take a seat in favor of a healthier option?
Coyle was outstanding against the Avalanche. In seven games against the Avs, Coyle scored three goals (one which was a game-winner) and two assists. Against the Blackhawks, Coyle managed just two assists and often didn’t look as threatening offensively as he did against the Avs. Give credit to Chicago for that, but Coyle’s injuries clearly limited him. With that in mind, should the Wild have dressed a different skater? Coyle probably insisted on playing, leaving the coaching staff with a tough decision. A healthier option (yes, one with less talent) may have been the better option than a 70% (or less) Coyle.
As always, hindsight is 20-20. Had the Wild moved on, the decision to dress Coyle looks like a brilliant one which was a true testament to a player’s willpower. Instead, the Wild are left wandering what went wrong.
It’s easy to praise Coyle for his grit and ability to even put on his sweater with two separated shoulders, but don’t let the toughness blind you. At some point you have to question why Coyle was used when he clearly wasn’t impacting the game.