JEFF JACOBS A welldeserved honor for Yale’s Taylor
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
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.”