Last week we talked about Colin Doyle, his retirement, and how well respected he was throughout his career. This week I’ll talk about a few of my own memories of Colin over the years. Here are the top five:
5. The Shoes
In February 2011, the Calgary Roughnecks came to Toronto for a mid-season tilt. As many Calgary-Toronto games tend to be, this one was exciting and came down to the wire, finishing with the Rock on top after an Aaron Pascas winner in overtime. But during a stoppage in play in the overtime period, a ref sent Colin Doyle to the bench. I was at the game and didn’t know why at the time. I only knew that Doyle was not happy about it, vanished into the dressing room, and returned a couple of minutes later.
It turned out that Doyle was not wearing league-sponsor Rebook shoes, and the Calgary bench waited until overtime to notify the refs, who were obligated by the rules to send Doyle off the floor. He went to the dressing room, put on a pair of Reeboks (apparently belonging to the trainer, and 2½ sizes too big), and returned. Calgary’s tactic was sound, but didn’t work. Pascas’s goal was unassisted but Doyle helped set it up.
4. The Fighter
In January of 2010, Colin Doyle made his second debut with the Rock after an off-season trade brought him back from San Jose. His return to the ACC was a game against the Boston Blazers, and things got rough in the first quarter. Five minutes into his return, he got into a fight with the 6’5″ Paul Dawson, one of the better fighters in the NLL. Note that Doyle is 6’3″, so that’s only a 2 inch difference. I don’t have career numbers, but from 2005-2016, Doyle was given TWO fighting majors. In fact, in those twelve seasons he only picked up seven major penalties and no misconducts. What I remembered about this game was that despite not being as seasoned a fighter as Dawson (12 fighting majors since 2008), Doyle held his own.
Both were given facemasking and roughing penalties in addition to fighting, and four other fights broke out while the refs were sorting that one out. All of the additional fighters got game misconducts. In all, 23 penalties were handed out and eight players ejected 4:39 into the first quarter.
Oddly, that game also ended with a Rock victory in OT, this time with Garrett Billings scoring the winner. Doyle got the first assist.
3. The Speaker
The Toronto Rock held a Town Hall meeting in December 2012, where they invited season ticket holders to come out to the brand-new TRAC and talk to owner Jamie Dawick, coach Troy Cordingley, GM Terry Sanderson, and several players (Doyle, Billings, Rose). They talked about the state of the team as well as the TRAC, and answered questions from fans on various topics. One thing I remember about this meeting was that Doyle was very well-spoken. There weren’t a lot of “um” and “uh” and filler words like “well, like, ya know” (i.e. he didn’t sound like me on Addicted to Lacrosse). He used to be a teacher and so is obviously comfortable speaking in front of people. Being a pro athlete in general requires some fan interaction and tons of interviews, and being a veteran and team captain means he was used to having the attention of everyone in the Rock and Stealth dressing rooms. Thus it’s not surprising that he’s a great speaker.
2. The Cup
The Rock won their sixth Championship in May 2011. It was also Doyle’s sixth title. Similar to the NHL and other sports, after every Championship-winning game, the league commissioner (George Daniel at the time) would call up the captain of the winning team and present them with the Champion’s Cup. This was Doyle’s first (and only) Championship as team captain, but he declined this traditional honour. Instead, Doyle sent veterans Cam Woods and Kasey Beirnes up to get it. At that time, Woods had played 12 seasons in the NLL and Beirnes 10, and since this was their first Championship, Doyle decided that he would give them the honour. That’s class.
1. The Patriot
During the national anthems, many players bounce around from foot to foot and jump up and down. This has bugged me forever. Some say it’s because they just finished warming up and they’re trying to stay loose, but that’s a crock – right after the anthems, most of them go and sit on the bench. Nobody ever jumps around behind the bench trying to stay loose. I’ve also heard that they’re so full of adrenaline and ready to play that they can’t stand still, and I can buy that. But not everybody does this. Many years ago I noticed that Colin Doyle stands completely still during the anthems. Even better, he looks at the Canadian flag and sings along with O Canada (or at least mouths the words). Every game. Respect.
- It didn’t happen in the NLL so I didn’t include it above but I can’t leave it out entirely. When Six Nations Chiefs goalies Brandon Miller and Evan Kirk were both ejected for using illegal equipment during a Mann Cup game in 2013, someone had to step up and strap on the pads. Doyle told the team’s defenders that they were all needed on the floor, so he’d do it, and he did. He played 11 minutes and made 6 saves on 9 shots. Question: This article says that Doyle had to put on his teammates’ soaking wet equipment, but wasn’t Miller’s and Kirk’s equipment illegal?
- Doyle is known far and wide as a clutch player. Since I know a thing or two about clutch players, I took a look at his Money Baller numbers. I only have these going back to 2005, but Doyle is #10 in those 12 seasons combined (though he only played 1 game in 2015). He’s #5 in the playoffs.
- I remember paying close attention to Doyle’s first game as a member of the Stealth. It wasn’t that I wanted him to fail, but I didn’t like the trade and so I guess I figured that if he didn’t do well in San Jose, it would somehow make the trade less bad. His first game was decent but not spectacular: a goal and three assists. His next game? Nine assists. The one after that? A goal and seven assists. He ended up with 81 points that season, 88 the next, and 111 in 2009. Safe to say he did well in San Jose. (For the record, that year I became, and remain, a big fan of Ryan Benesch, the guy the Rock received in the Doyle trade.)