Postcard: Walt's winter wonderland
There's something to
be said about spending the holidays at home. Just ask Walt Kyle.
If he were still
an assistant in the National Hockey League, as he was for more than
a decade as an assistant coach, he'd probably be with his team for
a game Dec. 23, do a little work early on Christmas Eve, and maybe
take most of Christmas Day off to be with the family. Then it's
back to work – most likely a game – Dec. 26.
This year, Kyle
is head coach at his alma mater, Northern Michigan. His team played
against Michigan Tech Dec. 13. Their next action Dec. 29-30 at the
Badger Showdown in Milwaukee. Plenty of time to trim the tree, do
a little shopping and even put together a holiday lighting display
Clark Griswold would envy.
Quite a change. For the
provides a lot more stability for a family than pro hockey,"
states Kyle, who has piloted the Wildcats to a 9-6-1 mark so far
this season. "We’ve been in seven cities in the last
11 years. That’s fine when the kids are younger, but when
they get older it becomes more difficult."
True. But Kyle's last
NHL job was with the New York Rangers. He used to live in New York
City. He now lives in Marquette. He's gone from The City That Never
Sleeps to a town that gets eight hours of shuteye every night. He's
traded the Great White Way for the Great White North. He left a
place where his team was lambasted in the tabloids on a regular
basis to a burg where Northern Michigan fans were given the opportunity
to meet each of the finalists to replace Rick Comley as head coach
at an hour-long reception.
Quite a change. Again,
for the better.
I missed when I was away from it and something I relished coming
back," Kyle explained. "It’s exciting for me to
be involved not only in college hockey, but in Marquette and at
It's not like Kyle and
his family haven't had the opportunity to visit the Upper Peninsula
in years past. They own a cottage near Marquette, and retreated
to that property in the off-season. But there's a marked difference
between spending a few weeks at a place you love opposed to being
a full-time resident.
"As soon as Labor
Day rolled around, I’d be going back to a training camp and
moving the family back to a different location," says Kyle
about the routine when he was employed in the NHL. "It’s
really refreshing to say, 'Wow, we’re here, we’re settled,
we’re not going anywhere.'"
Quite a change.
Yes, for the better.