Taylor listened to you
For better or worse, Lightning captain Tim Taylor said part of his decision not to play in one last game before retiring was made because some of you, on this blog, expressed distaste of the idea he would be coming back for what you saw as only personal reasons.
As Taylor said late Saturday night:
"You know what it came down to, really? I thought about it. But when I read your blog, and someone said on the blog, 'Why does anyone care if he comes back anyway, it's only for personal reasons,' I thought about that and I said that's exactly what I never wanted this to be about, and that made my decision final about not coming back for sure. I never wanted it to be personal.''
There were other considerations as well. Taylor, 39, who ends a 13-year career with Stanley Cup titles in 2004 with the Lightning and 1997 with the Red Wings, has regained his quality of life thanks to preseason hip resurfacing surgery. He can run seven miles, play racquetball, tennis, golf and get on the floor and play with his kids without pain. The risk/reward of perhaps hurting himself was a factor.
There also was the idea that if he did play Saturday against the Thrashers, it would be in a very limited role. As he said in today's paper: "Two shifts in a hockey game isn't hockey to me. I want to remember being on the ice and knowing what it was like to lose to New Jersey in the (2007) playoffs ... those kinds of games.''
I completely understand and respect that decision. Still, I would have liked to see Taylor play. The game at the end of the season, ultimately, means nothing. I'm sure the Thrashers would have played along and not run Taylor or anything in his limited time on the ice. Perhaps it is because I have come to know and respect him so much, and knowing how much he really meant to this franchise, I hate to see him leave not completely on his own terms. Then again, I can understand after playing the game with passion, not wanting to do something just for show. Either way, I'm sure it was a difficult decision.
But Taylor, who has been practicing with the team, said he has no regrets.
"It's going to be hard,'' he said. "I never thought it was going to hard. I thought it would be really easy because I haven't been playing. But the days are dwindling down now. It's getting tougher. I'm having a lot of fun skating with the guys. I don't regret those days.''
Still, "A week from (Saturday), I'm going to be out on the ice for the last time during the morning skate in Atlanta, and thats the day it's going to be really hard, going off the ice that last time knowing I won't be doing that again.''
The Lightning locker room will be poorer with Taylor's departure. He was a diligent worker behind the scenes making sure newcomers felt welcome, arranging outings, ensuring the players did not break into factions, even when times were tough. That after former Lighting Rob DiMaio had said of the 2005-06 season how difficult it was for a player coming into what had been a tight, tight locker room during the Stanley Cup run, to feel like he fit in
Taylor said he would love to remain with the team, perhaps as a scout so he could be based in his hometown of Stratford, Ontario, but has not had that conversation with GM Jay Feaster.