Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Famed hockey coach Tim Taylor passes away


     Tim Taylor of Guilford, Conn., head coach of the 1994 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team and former head men’s ice hockey coach at Yale University, passed away Saturday, April 27 at the age of 71.

     He was the father of Justin Taylor, a Sun Valley Suns hockey player who grew up in the local junior hockey program, and Wood River High School graduate Leah Van Ness Taylor. Both children came from his first marriage to Amy Taylor of Ketchum.

     One of the most respected American coaches of our time, Tim Taylor had a long history with USA Hockey and was a veteran of two Olympic Winter Games. He coached Yale University for 28 seasons where he compiled a 337-433-55 record.

     In 1984, he was both the assistant general manager and assistant coach for the U.S. Olympic Men’s Ice Hockey Team in Sarajevo. Taylor then served as head coach for Team USA in 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway. He also led the U.S. to its best finish at a Canada Cup when the team captured second place at the event in 1991.

     “We’ve lost one of the giants in coaching in our country,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. “Tim was dedicated to advancing the sport of hockey at all levels throughout his career and while there are so many passionate people in our sport, it’s hard to imagine there is anyone more passionate about the game than Tim.”

     Taylor’s passing after a long battle with cancer came two weeks after the Yale men won the school’s first NCAA Division 1 hockey championship.

     Born March 26, 1942, Taylor attended Harvard University from 1959-63 and played on the school's men's ice hockey team. He captained the Crimson team that won the Ivy League and ECAC championships in 1963. He scored 46 goals and 33 assists in 68 career college games.

     Taylor represented the U.S. twice as a player in international competition, competing on the U.S. Men’s National Team in both 1965 and 1967.

     He was a member of the family that published The Boston Globe newspaper from 1873 to 1999. His father John Taylor was president of the Globe from 1963-65. Tim decided against a career in newspapers after working for several desks at the Globe as a young man.

     Instead, Taylor went into coaching, starting as an assistant at Harvard. He was hired as Yale’s head coach in 1976. He coached more games than anyone else in the history of the ECAC hockey league and led the Bulldogs to six Ivy League titles and 19 playoff appearances. He earned the ECAC Coach of the Year Award in 1987, 1992 and 1998.

     “It was fitting that he got to see a program he put so much energy into for so many years win the NCAA hockey championship just a couple of weeks ago,” said Dave Ogrean, executive director of USA Hockey. “He was a wonderful human being and our sport was fortunate to be the benefactor of his love of the game.”

     The 1997-98 season, one in which he was honored with the Spencer Penrose Award as the NCAA Division I Coach of the Year, included a school-record 23 wins, Yale’s first conference crown and a berth in the NCAA tournament.

     Taylor stood at the helm of the U.S. Men’s National Team at the International Ice Hockey Federation World Championship four straight years (1989-1992). He also served as an assistant coach for the team at the 1981 and 1983 events.

     He spent the 2006-07 season as an amateur scout for the New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. In 2007, Taylor joined the staff of USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program where he served in multiple capacities until his passing.

     Taylor has been the director of player personnel for the U.S. National Junior Team the past five years, a stretch that included gold medals for the U.S. at the IIHF World Junior Championship in 2013 and 2010, along with a bronze in 2011.

    “Tim has meant so much to so many,” said Jim Johannson, assistant executive director for hockey operations at USA Hockey. “While he was a major contributor to the success we've enjoyed internationally in recent years, his legacy to me is his lifelong dedication to helping advance the American player and coach.”

     Taylor was part of the staff of four U.S. National Under-18 Teams that captured gold medals at the IIHF World Men's U18 Championship (2009-12) and one that earned a bronze medal (2008). In addition, he served as an assistant coach of the 2001 U.S. National Junior Team.

     Taylor was the recipient of two of USA Hockey’s most prestigious awards.

     In 2006, he was honored with USA Hockey’s Distinguished Achievement Award for his outstanding contributions to the sport of ice hockey in the United States. Taylor also earned the Walter Yaciuk Award in 2007 for his contributions to USA Hockey’s Coaching Education Program during years of service as a volunteer.

     (Editor’s note: Portions of this report came from an April 29 New York Times obituary).

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