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Doyle makes name for himself
By MARK MILLER -- Calgary Sun, Wed. Sept. 16, 1998. First shift. The young nobody from the minors spots the veteran tough guy on the ice. It is an opportunity. A chance to earn instant recognition. The rookie circles like a shark moving in for the kill, only this prey is just as lethal. It's a ritual dance of each and every training camp. Yesterday was just the first waltz. There will be more. Last year, Rocky Thompson was the nobody. He dropped the gloves in his first training camp shift and battled heavyweight champ Sandy McCarthy to a bloody draw. Yesterday, Thompson was the prey. The hunter was 24-year-old Trevor Doyle, a 6-ft., 3-in., chiseled 212-lb. tough guy who has battled his way to a minor-league existence. Now Doyle is playing without a contract, a training camp away from banishment to perhaps a career in the minors. Nothing to lose but a few teeth. On Thompson's first shift, he makes the challenge. They drop the gloves in full recognition that the fight has to happen. The smack of flying fists echoes in the near empty Saddledome. Both fighters stand toe to toe, exchanging haymakers. The players, the media, the scouts and, most importantly, team management take notice of the new kid. After a spirited battle, both fighters, arm weary from the marathon, are still standing. It's a draw. Welcome to Day 1 of Calgary Flames training camp. But there is everything but training here. This is real. The hits are vicious, the stickwork brutal. It's always that way when you combine grizzled veterans determined to preserve their careers with young kids looking to establish a livelihood. It's understood that on the ice, friendships, even among teammates are suspended. Only the strong survive in hockey's annual Darwinian battle. It's a real man's game. "That's what training camp is," smiles Thompson after the first day's session. "Everybody wants to showcase what they have and this is a tough team." Thompson knew what was coming yesterday. So did Doyle. "He was a tough guy with something to prove and we had a good, long fight. The only regret was that it came early and it made for a long game because I was pretty tired after the fight," said Thompson. "People maybe look at me as the guy to beat now that Sandy (McCarthy) is gone, so I had an idea that it was probably going to happen. "I'm not going to deny somebody an opportunity to showcase what they have and, in the same sense, it's good for me to get ready for the season. "For me, it was a good, long, hard fight and that guy was pretty tough." Doyle hurt his hand in the scrap and missed the final two periods. But he knows he achieved what he set out for -- notoriety. "I think that's part of my role and something I'm going to have to do if I want to get noticed out here," said Doyle, who is a free agent after four years in the Florida minor system. Last year, he had more than 200 penalty minutes in 36 games in the IHL. He had a goal and assist, as well. "Fighting has been a large part of my career," he admits. "It's not anyone's favourite thing to do, but it's one of the realities of the game and that's something I'm going to have to do if I'm going to play at this level. "I thought I should do it as soon as possible. "There is a lot of pressure at this point because I don't have a contract. I'm trying to get noticed, and hopefully something will come out of it." Something is a contract. A chance to continue to earn your living. "There isn't that many spots open, but there are some, so everybody wants to go and grab it," says Thompson. "When you have 10 guys fighting for two spots, there are going to be some real battles." In this training camp, the battles have just begun.