Well-de­served honor for Yale’s Tay­lor

The Middletown Press (Middletown, CT) - - SPORTS - JEFF JA­COBS

NEW HAVEN — His por­trait will hang in the Sch­ley Room at Yale’s In­galls Rink be­tween Mur­ray Mur­doch and Mal­colm Chace. Tim Tay­lor’s widow, Diana Cooke, said she’s es­pe­cially pleased with the work of artist Kelly Clark.

Tay­lor has brought two fin­gers to his mouth; he is deep in thought. He is watch­ing his beloved Bull­dogs play, yet he could be lis­ten­ing to a stu­dent in an Ivy League lec­ture hall. He could be study­ing a piece of art or a com­plex math­e­mat­i­cal equa­tion. If there were a name for the por­trait, it would have to be “The Thinker Coach.”

“Pro­fes­so­rial,” Cooke said.

“I don’t think I ever met any­body who was so ob­sessed with try­ing to make the sport of hockey bet­ter,” said leg­endary Bos­ton Univer­sity coach Jack Parker. “Not just for Yale or for him; bet­ter for ev­ery­body.”

“High IQ, high hockey IQ,” said Ben Smith, who coached for both Tay­lor and Parker be­fore be­com­ing head coach at Dart­mouth and North­east­ern and lead­ing the U.S. women in the Olympics. “He fol­lowed the old adage that play­ers don’t care how much you know un­til they know how much you care. A bril­liant man. A rare man.”

And so they gath­ered in the Fel­lows Lounge of Yale’s Ben­jamin Franklin Col­lege early Fri­day night for the pri­vate un­veil­ing of Tay­lor’s por­trait. The pub­lic un­veil­ing would come a few hours later, be­tween pe­ri­ods of Yale’s game against Har­vard. It was a night made pos­si­ble by the Yale Hockey As­so­ci­a­tion, by guys like Paul Far­ren and Jim MacDon­ald. Far­ren said he hopes for some­thing of more sub­stance

next sea­son for Tay­lor.

“It’s a lit­tle over­whelm­ing for me,” Cooke said. “When Tim left Yale, there wasn’t any cel­e­bra­tion. I’m both ex­cited there is one and a lit­tle re­gret­ful that he isn’t here.”

The old­est col­lege hockey pro­gram in Amer­ica traces its roots to 1893 and played its first in­ter­col­lege game on Feb. 1, 1896. Yale be­gan play­ing Har­vard on Feb. 26, 1900. They have met more than 250 times. Chace is some­times called the fa­ther of Amer­i­can hockey. Mur­doch was a long­time Ranger who coached Yale from 1938 to 1965. Tay­lor’s por­trait hangs with his­tory.

He was a Har­vard man be­fore he be­came a Yale man. He was cap­tain of the Crim­son’s 1963 team and grad­u­ated with a de­gree in English. Tay­lor was the scion of a news­pa­per fam­ily that owned the Bos­ton Globe. His fa­ther, John, was pres­i­dent of the pa­per, but Tim never had any in­ter­est in get­ting into the busi­ness. That didn’t stop him from be­ing a gen­tle­man to reporters who cov­ered his teams.

He won a lot of games — 337 — more than any coach in Yale his­tory. He be­came an im­por­tant part of USA Hockey. Al­though he de­clined an in­vi­ta­tion to be on Herb Brooks’ coach­ing staff for the 1980 Olympics that ended with the Mir­a­cle on Ice, he was an as­sis­tant coach/as­sis­tant gen­eral man­ager in 1984 and head coach in 1994 at Lille­ham­mer. Nei­ther ended with a mir­a­cle on ice.

The end­ing at Yale in 2006 was un­pleas­ant, es­pe­cially hurt­ful. There had been some dif­fi­cult sea­sons. Af­ter 28 years and at age 64, Tay­lor was open to re­tire­ment af­ter one more sea­son. The Yale ad­min­is­tra­tion wanted an im­me­di­ate re­tire­ment. He re­signed.

“It was sad, it never should have ended that way for him,” Parker said. “They were think­ing with their pock­et­books in­stead of their hearts.”

When he re­tired as the long­time ath­letic di­rec­tor in June, Tom Beck­ett still car­ried some of those scars. He grew emo­tional talk­ing about Tay­lor.

“I have great re­spect for Coach Tay­lor,” Beck­ett said. “He did mar­velous things for hockey in Amer­ica. The univer­sity felt it was time for a change. We hired one of his for­mer stu­dents. Keith Al­lain and Tim had a tremen­dous re­la­tion­ship. I wish I could have been able to con­tinue mine with one of Yale’s leg­endary coaches. It didn’t hap­pen. I’m sad­dened by it.”

Tay­lor’s chil­dren were here. A num­ber of great col­lege coaches were here. Mike Richter, the Rangers goalie great, who got a Yale de­gree af­ter he re­tired and helped Tay­lor with his goal­keep­ers, was here. So were a bevy of peo­ple who love Yale hockey. Asked if she could sense the heal­ing, Cooke an­swered: “I think so. I’m try­ing to gauge that. I worked at Yale as well. When Tim got sick, I re­tired. I worked for over 30 years and had a very in­volved re­la­tion­ship with the ath­letic depart­ment with the un­der­grad­u­ate ad­mis­sion of­fice.

“When Tim went through the end phase of his ca­reer I tried to main­tain an ob­jec­tiv­ity. I had a re­la­tion­ship with Tom and con­tin­ued to as well. I’m re­gret­ful they didn’t have a chance to re­ally mend fences. I know it wasn’t all Tom’s choice.”

When Al­lain, who was a goalie for Tay­lor, led Yale to its great vic­tory over Quin­nip­iac for its first na­tional ti­tle in 2013, Al­lain and as­sis­tants Red Gen­dron and Dan Muse brought the NCCA cham­pi­onship tro­phy to Tay­lor at Con­necti­cut Hospice in Bran­ford. Tay­lor would die of can­cer two weeks later.

“I was very mean­ing­ful to him,” Cooke said. “Tim had watched part of that game. He slept on and off for the first two pe­ri­ods. The nurses and I got him awake and he watched them win. I re­mem­ber ask­ing him, ‘Who are you root­ing for?’ He started laugh­ing. He said. ‘Yale, of course.’ ”

Yale, of course.

“He was 100 per­cent de­voted to hockey and Yale,” Cooke said. “A teacher.”

Smith and Parker knew the teacher for a half-cen­tury.

“The first time I got on the ice with him, we were play­ing in an old rink in Lynn, Mass., the sum­mer of 1960,” Smith said. “I got to coach with Tim for five years here and then with Jack for 10. I feel like I’m one of the luck­i­est coaches of the last half cen­tury.”

“I met Tim when we played in the Mayflower League in Brighton,” Parker said.

“We played for the same (pro­gram), he was with the older guys. Ev­ery once in a while, I’d get called up from the younger guys. The first game I played with him he was coach­ing me. He grabbed me af­ter­ward and showed me how to do a bet­ter job on face-offs.”

Parker and Tay­lor would be­come close friends. One a Bos­ton Brah­min, the other hard­scrab­ble.

“Timmy and I couldn’t be any more op­po­site,” Parker said.

When they were fresh­man coaches they would go on re­cruit­ing trips and dis­cuss hockey sys­tems for hours. Tay­lor beat No. 1 BU in an epic game in 1978, and even that couldn’t ruin their friend­ship.

“He is the per­fect ex­am­ple of a guy who loved coach­ing for all the right rea­sons,” Parker said.

In 2013, three months be­fore he died, Tay­lor served as a mem­ber of the Team USA staff for the World Ju­nior Cham­pi­onships in Ufa, Rus­sia.

“He was a big cog in us win­ning,” Smith said. “He could barely walk. He could barely feed him­self. But his pas­sion for hockey bub­bled over. He got on the plane with those kids. He ded­i­cated him­self to them.”

Bos­ton Globe via Getty Images

Yale hockey coach Tim Tay­lor watches his team prac­tice at In­galls Rink in New Haven in 1998.

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