Jim Craig was a
19-year-old student at Massasoit CC in 1976 when he met Tim Taylor for the
first time. Taylor, then an assistant at Harvard, granted Craig permission to
use the school's rink for extra work. It was a brief encounter, but spawned a life-long
friendship between two future American hockey legends.
Taylor also offered a valuable life-lesson, one Craig
“I was with my friend
Randy Millen, who was playing for Harvard,” Craig said by phone Monday afternoon. “Here
I am, this kid at Massasoit Community College with a dream of playing Division I hockey,
looking for ice time at Harvard. Tim came over, looked at me and said ‘What’s
your name?’ I said, ‘I’m Randy’s friend.’ He said ‘OK, Randy’s friend, how’re
you doing?” He came back over to me later on and said ‘Tell people your name.
Look them in the eye and always be proud of who you are.’ That was a small
thing that I’ll remember forever.”
Later that year the two
became ECAC adversaries. Taylor was the new
coach at Yale; Craig the new goaltender at Boston University.
But they also teamed up on occasion, Taylor
coaching Craig in a few international tournaments, including the Hockey World
Championships in Tokyo.
Of course, Taylor missed out on
Craig’s finest hour. He declined Herb Brooks’ offer to serve as an assistant
for the 1980 “Miracle on Ice” team, Taylor hesitant to leave Yale for a year
when he felt the club was finally coming into its own.
Craig said Taylor was a great friend
and influence on his life.
“He was in incredible
mentor,” Craig said. “He loved hockey so much, he could never have enough
hockey. He was distinguished, had a lot of class and always wanted to bring the
best out of everybody he coached. They were all like sons to him. He was just a
great man and a real friend.”