BOSTON — Coach David Carle doesn’t look old enough to buy a pint of Sam Adams in a Beantown pub, let alone carry the storied legacy of the University of Denver on his shoulders. And I say that as a compliment, although Carle doesn’t want to be known as a genius.
“I don’t think age has anything to do with success in life,” Carle told me Friday, on the eve of a TD Garden showdown against Minnesota State for the national championship.
But if the NFL is throwing roses at Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay’s feet for winning the Super Bowl shortly after his 36th birthday, shouldn’t we stand up and cheer Carle to be one win away? raise a banner for the Pioneers at age 32?
“Age is just a number,” Carle said.
Kid Carle fired up the training wheels and pedaled as fast as he could to catch up with DU coaching legends Murray Armstrong, George Gwozdecky and Jim Montgomery and win it all for the ninth time in school history.
“We are here to win the national championship. It’s so special, and each of us wants to leave our mark on this program. We have such high standards in Denver; to do that, you have to win a national championship,” said Pioneers forward Bobby Brink.
In 2018, when DU made him the youngest head coach of a top-flight program at the age of 28, there were raised eyebrows across the country, not to mention whispers behind Carle’s back. on the recruiting track. Rivals warned prospects that signing for a learn-by-doing coach with the Pioneers was a bad way to build a career.
“I know competitors from (DU) tried to use it against us. In recruiting battles, people were saying things,” Carle said. “Those competitors don’t like us doing well now because it puts everything to bed. They can no longer use it against us. (The coaches) tried to raise concerns, probably more about my inexperience than age, as they had bigger and longer resumes. But we all have to create resumes from somewhere.
The 85 wins Carle produced in four years on the DU bench now count far more than 9/11/1989 on his birth certificate. “I’m just waiting for the hair to start turning white,” Carle said, his mane as red as a fire truck. “I hope it’s in a few years.”
After the Pioneers struggled to a 10-13-1 record last season, Carter Savoie’s clutch score, Brink’s magic stick and an extremely talented (not to mention fearless) freshman class have transformed DU into the smoothest spectacle on NCAA ice, leading the nation in averaging nearly 4.3 goals per game.
The Pioneers, Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said, “have a certain swagger about them.”
When asked, after the Pioneers’ thrilling 3-2 overtime win over Michigan in the semifinals, if his relative youth was an advantage in his dealings with DU players, the press conference room erupted in laughing before Carle could snap, “No.”
The reporter graciously apologized to Carle, insisting the question was not meant to be taken as a joke.
“But everyone laughed,” replied Carle. “The answer is no.”
According to Carle, age may not be a barrier to success, but respect and trust are what every coach, young or old, needs to establish in order to build a winning culture.
In 1924, a 27-year-old manager named Bucky Harris led the Washington Senators to the World Series title. Although Mike Krzyzewski landed the basketball coaching job at Duke at age 33 in 1980, he didn’t cut the nets with the Blue Devils in the Final Four until 11 years later.
“There are still scenarios in hockey that I may not have really thought about or that may surprise me. So I’m still learning. I didn’t have it all figured out by any means,” Carle said. “But do I feel more comfortable and confident than four years ago? Yes of course.”
If he wins a trophy from this Frozen Four with the Pioneers, some people might still mistake him for a kid on the DU bench. But everyone will call Carle a champion.