Play for a Cure is Near and Dear to Tim Taylor of NHL’s St. Louis Blues
Tim Taylor is looking forward to scoring some big goals on the ice with a few old friends and some new ones but is even more excited to help score some bigger goals in the Windsor-Essex community.
The Director of Player Development for the National Hockey League’s St. Louis Blues will be participating in the Play for a Cure event taking place at LaSalle’s Vollmer Recreation Complex from April 7-8.
Play for a Cure is a unique opportunity that gives hockey fans the chance to play both with and against some of their favourite National Hockey League stars from yesteryear while helping raise both funds and awareness for local Cancer research and treatment.
In addition to Taylor, among the former NHL players scheduled to attend Play for a Cure are Adam Graves, Paul Coffey, Derian Hatcher, Todd Warriner, Mike Krushelnyski, Al Iafrate, Nik Antropov, Gary Leeman, Marty Turco, Michael Leighton, Rick Vaive, Mike Knuble, Aaron Ward, Dan Daoust, Dennis Maruk and Wayne Primeau.
The two-day event kicks off with a draft party on Thursday, April 7th for players, participants and sponsors at the St. Clair Centre for the Arts that involves the drafting of an NHL alumnus by the teams of fundraisers. A friendly round robin tournament will then be held the following day – Friday, April 8 – at the Vollmer in LaSalle. The festivities culminate with the All Star game of former NHLers at the Vollmer that night. Fans can attend that game by purchasing tickets online costing $20.
The 43 year-old Taylor, who played in the Ontario Hockey League with the London Knights and in the NHL with Detroit, Boston, New York (Rangers) and Tampa, has experienced a wide variety of reactions from area hockey fans over the years.
“I used to love playing with the Knights against the Spitfires at the old Windsor Arena because the fans were literally right on top of you and you always knew what they thought of you,” Taylor recalled with a laugh. “Windsor fans were passionate and knowledgeable and while they loved their team, they also appreciated talented players on opposition teams too.
“I just don’t know if I was one of those players!,” he added with another chuckle.
Taylor kicked off his 13-season NHL career as a member of the Red Wings for four seasons starting with the 1993-94 NHL campaign and found area fans were much more supportive of his playing efforts then in his junior hockey days.
“We always had a lot of fans come over from Windsor and Essex County when I played with the Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena,” he said. “It was more fun to have them on your side than against you.”
Taylor’s experience with the first Play for a Cure event held in 2019 (there were no events in 2020 or 2021 due to the Pandemic) was one of the biggest reasons that motivated him to return in 2022.
“It was an amazing time back in 2019 which is incredible because it was being held for the very first time,” Taylor offered. “Everyone had a great time for such a great cause and what’s even better is that all the monies raised stayed in Windsor and Essex County for Cancer research and helped local Cancer patients and their families.”
Another big reason that has – and continues to – motivate Taylor to participate in Play for a Cure is that Cancer has touched his family. His daughter, Brittany, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2009 when she was 15-year-old.
“It was a scary time for our entire family back then and, quite frankly, we were terrified that it might be terminal for her,” recalled Taylor. “We didn’t know what to expect in terms of treatment and a timetable for recovery, or even if one was possible.
“But Brittany faced the challenge head on an inspired us all with her focus and determination,” he continued. “She has been in remission for years now, thankfully, and continues to be an inspiration for us all.”
The Taylor family was living in Tampa, Florida, at the time of Brittany’s Cancer diagnosis as Tim was playing with the Lightning at the time. She started her treatment in Florida and the entire family soon started fundraising for Cancer research in the Sunshine State, which they continue to do today in the Taylor hometown of Stratford, Ontario.
This weekend’s events in LaSalle will be a reunion of sorts for Tim Taylor and he will not only become re-acquanted with the tremendous team of organizers led by Jeff Casey but will also be lacing up his skates with Adam Graves, his former teammate with the Rangers.
“Gravy and I were roommates in New York and he is a tremendous person,” Taylor said about the former Windsor Compuware Spitfire who is a hockey icon in these parts and who went on to play win Stanley Cups with both the Edmonton Oilers and Rangers in addition to also playing for the Red Wings and San Jose Sharks. “And when you see Adam Graves at a charity event, you know that it is a first-class event for a great cause.
“And Play for a Cure is a great example of both.”