April 9, 2009

Q&A: Colin Doyle, San Jose Stealth

by Theresa Smith | Special to Lacrosse Magazine Online

San Jose Stealth forward Colin Doyle's 99 points this season are 16 shy of John Tavares' single-season record with two games remaining.
© San Jose Stealth

Powering San Jose into playoff contention, Colin Doyle has racked up 32 goals and 67 assists for 99 points, threatening to break the single-season points record of 115, set by Buffalo’s John Tavares in 2001.

Doyle is even more likely to eclipse Josh Sanderson’s single-season assist mark of 71, set in 2005 with Toronto.

His latest effort, three goals and 10 assists in an 18-8 victory over Minnesota, produced National Lacrosse League Offensive Player of the Week honors.

With a crucial game in Colorado looming Saturday, the 12th-year veteran took time to answers some questions for LMO.

With the defensive additions (Saydon Santos, Steve Holmes and emerging goaltender Tyler Richards) and the move into a tie for third place, does it appear you guys are peaking at the right time?

I would say we’ve started to peak at the right time. I would also say if we don’t win this weekend, our peaking was probably premature. So we have to continue to peak if we plan on beating Colorado in Colorado and then to carry to Toronto and into the playoffs. But we certainly are going in the right direction with the additions that we’ve made.
With 67 assists, you’re one of the best feeders in the game, but you also have a knack for scoring goals, especially timely goals. How do you deal with both of those things at the same time -- not just looking for your shot when you need to score, but also being able to set up people so well?

That’s a tough question to answer. The way I see it is, I take whatever is given to me in every different situation. When I’m feeling that someone else has a better shot, I always make the pass. And when I feel it is my time to shoot, I take the shot. It is tough to say I focus on one or the other. My focus is to let the game come to me and see what they are giving me, and make the best move for the team.

When you’re having a big goal game (seven against New York in a 15-14 loss on March 1), is that a feel for the goalie and what shots are going to beat him? Or simply guys aren’t open and you could get yourself in front of the net and get a shot off?

When you start scoring, especially early in a game, you start looking for a shot more than a feed. But that being said, if you get going early in a game, I find the double teams come a little bit earlier, and that usually opens someone else up. I know when you’re feeling it as a shooter; you try to get yourself more shots. But the way I’ve always played the game is not to force anything, and if there’s a better shot there, you go after it.

I think that is what’s happening with our offense as a whole. If someone has a better shot, the guy on the floor is making the extra pass and we’re getting such good looks on the net because we’re playing so unselfish. I think that mentality has filtered through our offense.

But you’re right, when you get a roll going like New York when I had seven, obviously, I was looking to shoot first because I had that feeling. But I would be hurting the team if I was forcing bad shots, even with seven goals.

As much as you enjoy both scoring and passing, to have a 10-assist game, you must take a lot of pride in that.

To be honest with you, I take pride in winning games. Some games, you win games with one goal and one assist. And I’m just as happy when it is something like 10 assists. I take pride in how I play. My job is to put points on the board, but at the end of the day, what makes me happy is winning games. With the amount that the ball is in my stick, usually, one coordinates with the other, but sometimes it doesn’t, so it is a tricky dynamic to say the least.

What is the most fun play on the floor?

I love behind-the-back passes. When things are really going well, I seem to be on point with my passing, and it also seems that guys are cutting at the perfect place in the perfect time.

When you were in Toronto, you were winning championship after championship, and filling the place. San Jose is still marketing, trying to bring fans in. Do you feel a duty or responsibility to introduce the game to a whole new generation of kids?

Sometimes I think about that. Lacrosse is brand new here. You don’t really understand until you’re here, physically, yourself. We’re obviously not drawing the greatest, but when I’m out in the community, doing clinics or going to schools, it raises a lot of eagerness about the game. And when the kids get a chance to come see us play, we all feel the responsibility to put on a good show and spread the word of lacrosse. It has been a neat three years, watching lacrosse develop and helping the Stealth grow at the same time. It is a bit different. It is like starting over again when you leave something so big in Toronto and come here, but I think that’s what makes it so much more exciting. It has been fun trying to sell the team.

Your work at the schools and the clinics is your day job?

When I’m here with the Stealth, I’m handling all their community relations. Some days, it is going to schools putting on clinics; some days it is working with a lacrosse team; some days it is giving kids presents at Christmas. That’s what I do here, and when I go back home, I go back to being a supply teacher in my hometown. It works out nice. I haven’t got a full-time commitment in Kitchener (Ontario), where I live, so it enabled me and my family to move here and work in this awesome community.

What is a supply teacher?

I have my teaching degree; I work for teachers who are sick or away.

Like a substitute teacher?

Yes, in Canada we call it a supply teacher.

What grades do you supply for?

I have credentials in grades K through 12. I do most of my work in middle school, grades 7 and 8.

All subjects?

Yes. Certainly, I’m better in some than others. I had my hands full with a grade eight math class once. I enjoy the history, geography, and, of course, P.E.

The West has proven to have a lot of parity, with the exception of Calgary. Colorado is difficult to predict. They’ve played well despite injured players and, other times, they’ve had trouble scoring. You’ve split with them. What do you expect Saturday night?

It has been a back-and-forth battle with those guys ever since I came to San Jose. I know both our playoff lives are kind of hanging in the balance. We will see their best. I certainly don’t expect to go in there and have them roll over for us. We match up well with each other. We know each other so well, it really comes down to which team gets the bounces and which team is willing to work a little harder. Our mentality will be to go in there and try to outwork them. We know their crowd is going to be crazy. If anything, that should excite us. They’re going to be ready to play. I know that we are, so I can only assume that they are going to be as well.

What about the possibility of breaking the points or assists record. Is that icing on your career?

Of course, I would be honored to even have a chance at both of those. I played with Josh Sanderson when he broke the original assist record. I know how well he played. For me to enjoy something like that, we would certainly have to be going into the playoffs. The team does come first. Those things I guess would be a feather in the cap from a personal standpoint. But it would just be hard to enjoy them if there wasn’t enough value in that to help get this team into the playoffs. But it is exciting that some of those things might happen.

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