During a week of player evaluations that Tim Taylor would have loved, it was his kindness and friendship that were missed most at the first USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp since the legendary coach’s passing in April.
“He was such a positive person and a guy these young guys can aspire to,” said Brock Bradley, an equipment manager who worked many events with Taylor. “It didn’t matter if you were the guy sweeping the floor or the head coach, he treated everybody really well.”
Taylor is viewed as the architect of the current camp format, which pits American players under the age of 20 against one another in a competitive environment before coming together for a series of exhibition games against international opponents.
“What we have now in our Junior program is a wider range of scouting because of Tim and a range that is more competitive,” said Ben Smith, National Team advisor and longtime colleague of Taylor.
“Tim was an advocate for opening the thing up and looking under every stone for potential candidates.”
USA Hockey’s Assistant Executive Director of Hockey Operations Jim Johannson sat alongside Taylor at the summer camp each year in Lake Placid, N.Y. This year he was back evaluating players but said he noticed his longtime friend’s absence.
“He’s missed in so many capacities here,” he said. “From the administrative side of it, his guidance and the wisdom are missed. I think he brought a true camaraderie to the camp, along with a real competitive edge.”
During the camp practices Taylor would tinker endlessly, Johannson said, looking for the edge that could bring Team USA a gold medal.
“He was always looking for the next part of the game, so to speak,” he said. “It was fun sitting next to a hockey guy that was so embedded in it but also had great passion and caring for all the people involved in it.”
Athletic trainer Stan Wong, who spent hours in rinks around the world with Taylor, said his compassion for everyone on the team had a big impact on the staff, "especially when we were on the road and it gets lonely and you’re at the rink for a long time."
“Coach Taylor, it seemed like he was always there with us,” Wong said.
Johannson said Taylor’s attitude was rooted in an empathy with those around him. He wasn’t worried about himself.
“When a player had a bad day, Tim had a bad day. When a player had a good day, he felt good for the player, not Tim Taylor,” Johannson said.
The last tournament Taylor worked ended with a gold medal around his neck at the 2013 IIHF World Junior Championship in Ufa, Russia. Even then Taylor was not smiling for himself, Johannson said.
“He was happy for [head coach] Phil Housley, he was happy for the players, he was happy for the equipment and training staff and the media and everybody who was working with the team,” Johannson said.
“I wish I could have seen him when he walked around the corner because then maybe I could have seen him be happy for Tim Taylor.”
Cameron Eickmeyer is the managing editor of USAHockey.com.
Photos By USA Hockey Magazine Archives
MISSING TIM TAYLOR
“He was the ultimate teacher. He wasn’t just a scout up in the stands, he was down in the trenches and really tried to get to know everyone better.” – Jason Hodges
“His guidance and leadership and leveling and calming approach is something that is remembered by all of us and something that we have to hold on to.” – Ben Smith
“You wanted to work for him when he was around. You wanted to be your best and that’s what he brought out of people.” – Scott Aldrich