Carle: Lessons from the front of the bus

(Editor's Note: The day before the 2008 NHL draft, David Carle's physical results showed he had hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a condition that results in a thickening of the heart and could cause sudden death during physical activity. Carle was forced to retire from hockey but is now a student-assistant coach at the University of Denver, where he had originally signed to play. Carle is documenting the experience for ESPN.com.)

Life will throw many curveballs and change-ups, some more severe and life-changing than others. In my instance, being forced to retire from hockey has certainly been the biggest event that has changed my life to date. It is very interesting how with challenges and changes come new experiences that one would think might never come.

We played Colorado College over the weekend, and for the first time in my life I was up in the front of the bus. Not because a lack of seniority, but because I was a student-assistant coach. It is just one example of one of the many changes and new experiences that will manifest in the coming months and years. Events will occur that I thought wouldn't be happening for quite some time, if ever.

As a player, I always wondered what they talked about up there in the front of the bus. Are they strategizing? Ripping on players? Talking about me? I didn't have a clue. Now, sitting up there, I see that it really is not rocket science, it was mostly quiet with some minor chitchat about hockey. On the way down to Colorado Springs, I just chatted with assistant coach Derek Lalonde about why it took me so long to commit to Denver. After 30 minutes of convincing, he still just does not get it.

I have come to find that at the coaching level, it seems to be a lot simpler than what I had previously believed as a player. As a player, you always wonder what the coach is thinking about your play, if he likes you or why you're not playing. These questions, as I see from the other side now, are pretty pointless. I wish I had not focused on some of those things while I was playing. I wish I had just purely focused on what the coach was asking out of me, try to do those things and then just play.

I suppose some of you would like to hear a little insight into this past weekend's performance against Colorado College. The Tigers are a pretty good team with a very good goalie. The goalie made countless saves both nights that probably stole them the game. Credit to him for absolutely standing on his head at times. I know we are all pretty disappointed with the outcome of losing three of four points to them, but to look at the positives, we don't have anything to worry about. If you're not getting chances then you have to worry, but we put up 45 shots in a night against the top team in the country and out-chanced them 2-to-1, so we will be just fine. Our defense and goaltending is getting better day by day, and let's remember, it's only early November -- there is a ton of room to grow and become even better than we have already shown.

Thanks and until next time,
David Carle

PS -- Don't hesitate to drop questions in the comments section. I will gladly try to answer those.