Carle: Winter break allows no rest from hockey

(Editor's Note: The day before the 2008 NHL draft, doctors determined David Carle 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.)

Hey hockey fans.

We are now in the inter-term part of our school year here at the University of Denver. Finals were last week and we now have six weeks off from school to celebrate the holidays and to focus purely on hockey. After spending time with my brother, Matthew Carle, during his seasons in San Jose, it is very apparent that the boys here are living a pro lifestyle for the next six weeks. The boys wake up, go to practice, work out, get treatment, eat and rest while focusing only on the upcoming opponents and getting better. Everything is geared around hockey and better positioning ourselves to have success when the puck drops every Friday and Saturday night.

For the rest of the blog I will try and answer the question you guys have given me in the comments section. They are very good and I thank you for them.

One of the things I was really worried about coming in was how big a role I would have on the coaching staff, especially dealing with the possibility of trying to tell some of the upperclassmen pointers that I would obviously not have given if I were playing on the team today. What I do is make suggestions to the staff, usually dealing with more general concepts or beliefs that differ from what I was taught when I played, or pointing out to them some general things that I do or don't see the team doing that could help us out. One of the things this year that I have noticed and brought up is that our guys really can do a much better job communicating on all areas of the ice, and that is something that is now emphasized in our practices.

I rarely go up to specific guys and point out to them things they are doing wrong because I am still learning some our coaching staff's philosophies in certain aspects of the game. Once I further my knowledge of these philosophies, then I think I will have a bigger impact as far as one-on-one teaching of the players.

As far as my specific responsibility, I find that I offer a little bit different perspective on the game. Having just come out of playing, my opinion will sometimes differ from some of the other coaches. So what I see is oftentimes different from the rest of the staff because of my unique perspective. My main contributions come during games, when I will try to pick up on things that our opponents are beating us with, or things that we can work on or are doing a good job at.

What I miss most about the game after having my career come to an end may come as a surprise to some, but it's that feeling of proving people wrong. Being forced to retire, I am even further saddened that I was not able to continue on that path of proving people wrong. When it came to my hockey career, especially around ages 15 and 16, I felt a lot of people doubted me or felt I was where I was just because of what Matthew had accomplished already in his young career. I felt I always had to prove that I was David Carle and that I deserved to be where I was, just like everyone else. Some people may not have thought I was very good or did not deserve to be where I was.

I will never forget in bantams when I was sat numerous times -- I mean sat -- and sometimes given only three or four shifts in tournament games. I knew I was better than the coaches thought, and deep down I knew that I would make them say, "Wow, I never thought he would be a player." I wanted to prove to everyone who David Carle was and what David Carle was capable of on ice. I did not want to be known as Matt Carle's little brother, and to my credit, I believe I did do that in my time at Shattuck. I was able to step out of his shadow and make a name for myself.

I would like to extend a thanks to anyone who ever did doubt what I could do, because without you I probably would not have gotten to where I did. I really appreciate all that.

So my lesson to all the little guys out there getting benched: Do not ever settle. If you work hard and put your mind to something, there is not anyone that can stop you. The only person who can hold you back is you. Make your coaches say the same thing I made mine say.

Thanks for the questions, and until next time,
David Carle