After a 28-year partnership, the men’s hockey team and head coach Tim Taylor have parted ways.
The Yale Athletic Department announced yesterday that it was relieving Taylor of the head coach position, instead offering him reassignment within the department.
During his tenure as head coach, Taylor amassed a 337-433-55 record and coached more total games (825) than any head coach in the ECAC. With six Ivy League championships, an ECAC title and a national coach of the year award (1997-98) under his belt, Taylor will leave Ingalls Rink as one of the most popular and successful coaches in program history.
“We are extremely respectful and appreciative of [Taylor’s] service to Yale and his dedication and loyalty to the men of Yale hockey,” Director of Athletics Tom Beckett said. “We believe, however, that now is the time to provide new leadership for the next generation of student-athletes in this program.”
This past season, Taylor led the Elis to a 10-20-3 record, including wins over Ivy League opponents Brown, Harvard and Princeton. After starting the ECAC playoffs in spectacular fashion with two overtime victories against Union, including the longest game in NCAA history on March 5, the Bulldogs dropped two contests to Dartmouth in the second round.
Though mediocre results and sporadic play have marred Taylor’s record of late, his contributions to the program, highlighted by the 1997-98 season, will leave a lasting legacy. Taylor led the Bulldogs to their first conference crown and first appearance in the NCAA Tournament since 1952 during that miracle season. The team’s 23 overall and 17 conference victories set program records in both categories.
Taylor also coached at the international level and took two leaves of absence while at Yale to coach the U.S. Olympic team. He was the assistant general manager and assistant coach in 1984 and was the head coach of the team at the games in Lillehammer, Norway.
But if 1997-98 was the apex of Taylor’s coaching career, the 2004-05 season was its lowest point. The Elis finished 5-25-2 and won only one game against an Ancient Eight opponent.
“Obviously, we have been through some tough years,” 2006-07 captain Matt Cohen ’07 said. “Mainly the year before this past one. One thing you can say is he’s always been there for us; he’s always been an honest and really honorable guy. I’m a little surprised considering that we had a much better season.”
The end of Taylor’s time at the helm of the Bulldogs was announced just weeks after Yale announced the departure of assistant coach Bruce Wolanin. Associate head coach C.J. Marottolo and volunteer assistant coach Mike Richter are the only remnants of the fragmented coaching staff and will face the challenge of keeping the team intact while the hunt for a new head coach gets underway.
“It’s going to be tough,” forward Joe Zappala ’06 said. “When you lose an assistant coach and a head coach, you lose cohesion coming from the top down, and sometimes that’s a pretty big obstacle. C.J. is going to have to be a big link, and the returning lettermen are going to have to work hard to keep the team together and eliminate all of the distractions.”
The men’s hockey team will feel the effects of Taylor’s absence in the years to come, former captain and Ward 1 Alderman Nick Shalek ’05 said.
“Coach Taylor is not only a terrific teacher but a terrific person,” Shalek said. “I was incredibly honored to work closely with him all four years. I am not alone in feeling that because of how well he knows the game and how remarkable his level of experience is. He will be very sorely missed by the players who play for him now and the alumni who played for him in the past.”