Tuesday, March 06, 2012
Justin Taylor-Enjoying the Hockey Life
Outside the visitors’ dressing room in the Germain Arena, there is a stationary bike. There was a lineup to get on the bike following the game last Friday night. When I caught up with Justin Taylor, he was busy on that bike. Like many other hockey players, he likes to wind down after a game. I introduced myself to him so that he could put my visit into proper perspective.
He had just finished a difficult evening. He is in his second season with the Kalamazoo Wings, and his team had just suffered an old fashioned shellacking by the Florida Everblades at the Germain Arena. It was the second game of three that the Wings played against the Blades here in south west Florida.
The Wellington Dukes were thrilled to include Taylor in their lineup at the start of the 2005-2006 season. The young London skater scored 18 goals in his rookie season. In the following season, he continued his excellent play for 37 games; however, he was coerced, at that point in the season, into joining his parent club, the London Knights. He played 31 more games that season for the Knights, then added ten points in the playoffs. He played three more seasons in London, putting up large numbers during the regular season and in the playoffs.
No more than one minute into our chat he asked, “How are the Greers? Sandi, Paul, and the boys-Brady and Riley.” Taylor had billeted at the Greers, with fond memories of his time there. “You know,” he added, “I really didn’t want to leave Wellington. It was great there.”
Such is the nature of the game and its demands. Taylor had to move up at that time. Last year he did get to play 14 games for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in the American Hockey League, yet another stepping stone to the NHL. That is the ultimate goal for any young hockey pro.
“When you play the same team three straight times, there is bound to be a build up of animosity. But it’s what it is,” Kalamazoo coach Nick Bootland told me after the game. He also noticed my Dukes’ jacket. (A natural conversation starter!). He began his Junior career in the OHL with the Petes, then moved to the Guelph Storm.
A veteran of the hockey wars, Bootland began his pro career with the Hershey bears of the American Hockey League. Following stops in Cleveland and Cincinnati, he settled into Kalamazoo. After playing four seasons with the Wings, he settled in behind the bench.
He told me that he appreciates the contributions that Taylor makes to the team. “He’s still young,” he added, “but he is a leader on this team. He always steps up and tries to improve his game whenever possible.” He then chuckled and added, “And he is a bit of a disturber”.
Taylor concurred. “I do like to mix it up on the ice. I try to get guys off their game.” He then added, “I really love to play this game. And to get paid to do it is a real bonus.”
As I wandered away from him, he lifted his head while peddling and shouted, “Say hello to Marty and Woody for me.”
Just another night in the hockey wars. The rubber match on Saturday night was won by the Blades on a shootout goal. The Blades now embark on a 12 day road trip while the Florida Tarpons of the Arena Football League come to town.
I thing all the players related to any game are always fond of bikes and especially the hockey players. i love hockey and sports bikes.
Thanks for this! It's nice to get a bit of a peek at Taylor's character, as he's my favorite current K-Wing. We quite like him here in Kalamazoo. :)Post a Comment