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Taylor's role is as a fiery leader

He's not afraid to tell teammates, or anyone, what is needed to win.

JOANNE KORTH
Published June 6, 2004

CALGARY - As the Lightning made its way through the playoffs, most of the attention belonged to captain Dave Andreychuk, a savvy, 22-year veteran striving for his first Stanley Cup. But Andreychuk is only part of the Lightning leadership party.

Don't forget Tim Taylor.

Taylor, a 10-year veteran, does not wear a captain's "C" or associate captain's "A" on his jersey. But he has the respect of teammates for his experience and the emotions he wears on his sleeve.

"That's where you gain the respect of your teammates, not for putting on a show," said Taylor, who has a small patch of hair on his chin, his version of a playoff beard.

"It's all about how you really feel, whether you're upset with them for not playing well, or you don't think they're giving their all or you're upset with yourself. That's how you gain the respect of your teammates is when you actually show your emotion rather than hiding it and pretending."

Taylor, a checking forward whose job is helping to shut down an opponent's top scoring line, was acquired by trade in June 2001, brought it at the same time as Andreychuk to form a leadership team. Together, they have transformed the atmosphere in the Lightning locker room, created a tight-knit group of professionals.

"Everyone talks about Andy, and rightfully so," defenseman Dan Boyle said. "But Tayls has been doing his job in the locker room all year long and probably doesn't get the credit he deserves a lot of the time. He's been around the league a lot longer than most guys in here and that goes a long way."

After Tampa Bay's overtime loss in Game 5, Taylor was consistent in his comments to the team and the media with the Lightning facing elimination in Game 6.

He was fired up.

Taylor spoke of wanting to spoil the Flames' fun because they had spoiled the Lightning's. He said it was time to get upset. And though some found it optimistic that coach John Tortorella planned for the team to eat breakfast in Calgary this morning before flying home to play Game 7 on Monday, Taylor was quick to defend him.

"Who else would you want behind the bench if you ask him a question and he says, "Yes, we are going to be here?"' Taylor said. "If he says, "No,' would you want him behind the bench?"

Typical Taylor.

"He gets ticked off," defenseman Cory Sarich said. "That's not to say that Dave doesn't get frustrated or wound up, too. But Tayls wears it on his sleeve a little bit more than Dave, and that's a good thing. You need a little bit of that every now and then.

"His words hit home."

Taylor, who spent five seasons in the minors before reaching the NHL with Detroit in 1994, has made the playoffs seven times and competed in 76 career games. He was a member of the Red Wings' 1996-97 Stanley Cup title team.

"He's got experience," Sarich said. "He's been in the playoffs before and he has just a little different view on things than Dave. Each of them has their own points, but Tayls is just a refreshing voice.

"He's a defensive-minded person, so sometimes his comments steer a little that way. But he's a forward, so I think he's got a good balance between everybody in the room. He can relate to everybody, so his words of wisdom are definitely helpful."

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