Monday, April 29, 2013

Jim Craig remembers Tim Taylor as a friend, mentor

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 never forgot.

“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.”


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