Bending back to his roots
Catching up with Dave Poulin
SOUTH BEND, Indiana - The New England region takes a tremendous amount of pride in their blue-collar mentality. So, it's very easy to understand why Boston Bruins fans loved Dave Poulin, a player who was known for his hustle, work ethic, and never-say-die attitude.
"I enjoyed my time in Boston immensely," Poulin said. "We had some real good teams and real close teams. Boston is just an absolutely amazing city to be a professional athlete in because of the passion involved and the generations involved. I think anytime you can get that, that is where true traditions are built."
Poulin joined the Bruins in 1990 when he was traded from the Philadelphia Flyers for Ken Linseman. After joining the team, Poulin played an integral role for the remainder of the season helping the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Finals.
"It was wonderful and it was my third time (in the Finals)," said Poulin, who had previously been there in 1985 and 1987 with the Flyers. "We had a good run. We were healthy and in tremendous shape at that point, but we ran into a red-hot Bill Ranford. We fell just a little bit short."
Poulin played three more years with Boston serving an assistant captain with the team.
"I think the neat thing about those teams was there were so many leaders on that team and certainly Ray Bourque was the captain. You also had Cam Neely, Garry Galley and both of our goaltenders, Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin, were leaders."
These days you can find Poulin at the University of Notre Dame, where Poulin himself was a standout college hockey player. A Hobey Baker Finalist in 1982, he is now the head coach of the hockey program, which plays in the Central Collegiate Hockey Association.
"It has been great and this is my ninth year, which is still unbelievable to me in that it has been nine years, said Poulin. We have risen in the ranks are one of the top-15 teams in the college hockey right now. It's been fun to work with highly motivated young players that want to succeed on and off the ice."
Poulin lives in South Bend with his wife of more than 20 years, Kim. They have three daughters, identical twins Lindsay and Taylor, 17, who will be attending Notre Dame next fall, and Kylie, 13.
Poulin has helped reestablish the Notre Dame hockey program on the national scene. His biggest strength has been recruiting; this year's freshman class was rated second in the nation by Red Line Report during the summer of 2003.
During the 1998-99 season, Poulin was named a finalist for the CCHA and national coach of the year after guiding the Irish to a 19-14-5 record. That year's team spent most of the time ranked among the top 10 in the nation. They played host to a first-round CCHA playoff series, Notre Dame's first since Poulin's senior season in 1981-82.
"I believe in Notre Dame so strongly," said Poulin. "Having been a student-athlete and knowing what it meant to me in my development both as a person and a hockey player it's a pretty easy place to sell. We have the highest rated academic institution that offers hockey scholarships. Notre Dame has a wonderful tradition, is a great school and offers the best academically and athletically."
It was while playing in Boston where Poulin was reintroduced to college hockey attending a number of Boston College and Boston University games.
"No question, it certainly rekindled my thought process," said Poulin of the BC and BU games. "My wife and I would attend games and we enjoyed the passion and the energy. It was a lot of fun."
Life is good for Poulin, who is enjoying his post-NHL playing days coaching is alma mater Notre Dame.
"It's been fun to watch the program grow," he said. "Most importantly it's been fun to watch the level of contribution I am getting from the players. We've risen to a higher level.
"Life is pretty good, no question about it. My health is great and I don't have any lingering injuries from hockey. I've been very fortunate and blessed."
(If you would like to hear where a former New England Sports Star is these days, please e-mail Jon Goode at firstname.lastname@example.org)