Chris Doyle has overcome a lot of adversity to become the player he is today.
First bursting onto the scene for his hometown Prince Edward Island Rocket of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Doyle established himself as a point-per-game power forward.
Just as things were looking up for the New York Rangers 2008 fifth-round pick, Doyle was involved in an altercation at a P.E.I. bar, resulting in a broken nose for a young female and a tarnished record for Doyle.
This season, Doyle removed himself from his past and made the jump to the Ontario Hockey League, looking for a fresh start.
Now with the Mississauga St. Michael’s Majors, Doyle is settling in to his first season and likes his chances moving forward with the club.
“The OHL is more my style.” Doyle told SLNsports.com. “There’s more hitting and not so much finesse. I find in the Q, players dangle a bit but here [in the OHL] there are some skilled guys and there are some dangles but it’s more of a Canadian style of hockey, I find.”
Amid public outcry over his bar altercation, the P.E.I. Rocket traded Doyle to the Victoriaville Tigres, where his struggles only worsen. Doyle, an Anglophone, had trouble adapting to the language barrier that comes with playing in a small French community.
After his lone season with the Tigres, Doyle had to rethink his route to the pros.
“I was in a French community and didn’t want to go to another French community and no Maritime team was looking to pick up another [overage] forward. I figured I’d try the OHL and here I am.”
Canadian junior teams are only allowed to ice three 20-year-olds on a single team and with so many talented players in the QMJHL, Doyle found himself without a place to play.
He was released by Victoriaville after one season and had his rights traded to the OHL’s Sudbury Wolves.
Not wanting to play for a non-contender in Sudbury, he was traded to the Majors, where he has logged three assists in his first six games.
While his points-per-game days may be behind him, he insists he’s not struggling.
“No. We’re winning games.” Doyle said. “That’s all that matters. I’m adjusting to my role. The goals are going to come, I just have to keep shooting the puck.”
Six games isn’t exactly the best barometer to gauge Doyle’s impact, but he’s still adjusting his style of play to adapt to his new teammates.
“It’s a different league.” Doyle said. “It’s faster, there are more hits. It’s not a finesse league like the ‘Q’ is but I’m liking it so far.”
Doyle was used to being the star while playing in Quebec but on a Mississauga team that is currently ranked the second best team in the Canadian Hockey League, his role has changed, if only slightly.
“I just need to just keep doing what I always did.” Doyle said. “It’s not really different. We’ve got a good strong team. We’ve got four solid lines, so I’m just trying to stay in a straight line and play my game.”
Far away from the spotlight of being the hometown savior in P.E.I, despite his new start, Doyle misses playing in his home province.
“Obviously, playing in my hometown was a pretty sweet time.” Doyle said. “You got your family friends there to support you every game and every night. Coming here was definitely a change and I’m adjusting to the OHL style. I’m liking it so far.”
Dealing with personal issues, combined with a transition to a different league with a different style, can be tough on any athlete. Doyle credits his smooth changeover to one particular teammate.
“Justin Shugg took me under his wing a bit.” Doyle said. “He’s won two Memorial Cups and now I’m looking to win one with this team.”