Sometimes the greatest reward is not a gold medal or first-place trophy, but the memory of perseverance, teamwork and the will to strive for excellence.
In 1991, Tim Taylor led Team USA to its best showing at a Canada Cup, now known as the World Cup of Hockey, a silver-medal winning effort that changed the order of command in the ranks of the international hockey world.
“There is no doubt this will be the best U.S. team ever,” American general manager Craig Patrick said at the time.
That was no exaggeration. One glance at the U.S. roster reveals the names of a who’s who in American hockey. To single out only a few names would not do the team justice, as its lineup is comparable to an ultimate fantasy hockey team.
Team USA came into the competition, like so many times before, as underdogs. They had never placed above fourth at the competition.
They made it through the round-robin series with only one loss to Canada, beating out the powerhouses that were Czechoslovakia, the Soviets, Finland and Sweden.
Facing Canada in the finals, Team USA fought valiantly two third-period goals gave the loaded Canadian team the lead, and ultimately the Cup, the Americans walked away with their heads held high.
They knew that their presence had changed the attitude toward, and ranking of, hockey in the United States.
Taylor continued to make an impact on the game at the international level as an assistant coach with the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team, and as the head coach of the U.S. squad at the 1994 Lillehammer Games.
In his record-breaking, 28-year career at Yale University, he earned the Spencer Penrose Award as the NCAA’s coach of the year for 1997-98.
Last year, Taylor took his wealth of knowledge and leadership to USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program, where as assistant coach he instills the lessons he has learned from experiences like the 1991 Canada Cup to the U.S. Under-18 Team.
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