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Bobby Taylor

Calgary, Alberta native goalie Bobby Taylor only appeared in 46 NHL games during a span of five seasons, and despite never being a regular goalie in the NHL he always had a very upbeat attitude. He had a booming self confidence that rubbed of on his teammates around him. For a short time he was the perfect backup netminder.

He entered the professional ranks after having played for the Edmonton Oil Kings (AJHL), St.Catherines Black Hawks (OHA) and Calgary Spurs (WCSHL). He then played in the EHL, WHL and AHL between 1968-71. In September 1968 he was signed by Philadelphia Flyers but continued to play in the minor leagues.

In one of the Eastern Hockey League games he was in goal for the New Jersey Devils and surrendered 18 goals! After the game he almost quit hockey since he didn't think that he needed the aggravation. He quickly disbanded the negative thoughts and worked hard to make it to the NHL instead.

Bobby's break came late in the 1971-72 season after Bruce Gamble had suffered a heart attack during a game and Doug Favell suffered an injury. Philly's coach Fred "The Fog" Shero called up Bobby on an emergency basis up from the Richmond Robins in the AHL. He faced Chicago Black Hawks in his debut and shut out Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita for more than two periods. The game eventually ended in a 3-3 tie but Bobby had played well enough to start in the next game as well. After Bobby retired he said that the first game was easily his biggest thrill ever as a goalie.

In his second NHL game he beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-1 for his first victory. During the 1972-73 season he was sharing the goaltending duties with Doug Favell until suffering a mid season knee injury that kept him out for a long time. After his injury Bobby only played sporadically, appearing in a total of 15 games for Philadelphia between 1973-76.

Probably Bobby's lowest point of his career came in a game in Vancouver. Don Saleski and Greg Boddy became involved in an altercation up by the glass. Unfortunately, a nimrod fan reached over the glass and grabbed Saleski by the hair. Taylor instantly reacted by scaling the glass and attacking the fan. In all 7 Flyers ended up in the stands, as well as numerous police officers, one of whom was hit, although no one knows who hit him. Crown council pressed charges against Taylor and the other 6 Flyers. All were fined but the judge also found Taylor guilty of assaulting the police officer as the cop testified he remembered seeing goalie equipment. Taylor to this day denies hitting the cop.

Taylor was sentenced to 60 days in jail, but only spent about 15 minutes in the slammer. The Flyers bailed him out and appealed. The appeal was successful.

Coach Fed Shero had a great line about the incident. "I wish they'd kept Taylor in jail until September. Then he would have been in the best shape of his life when he reported to training camp," he said jokingly.

Of course Bernie Parent had become the best goalie in all of hockey, and played almost every game, when Taylor was also a Flyer, which is why he appeared in only 15 games over the course of multiple seasons. Taylor was essentially being paid to take extra practice shots and to open the door to the bench during games!

"The practice was my game" Taylor told Dick Irvin in the great book In The Crease. "When I went to practice I forced myself to be mentally prepared, just as though I was going to a game. It served two purposes. Number one, it helped the guys at practice because they knew they had to work hard against you, that you just weren't out there going through the motions. Secondly, it helped me keep sharp."

And that is what makes the perfect backup goaltender.

Taylor backed up Parent in more ways than just the occasional relief appearance.

"Nobody really knows what a goalie goes through other than another goalie. If you're there with him, patting him on the back, it makes for a much easier relationship. It creates a better atmosphere in the room. The players treat you better and have more respect for you because they see what you're going through and they understand it to a degree."

And that is how Bobby Taylor played an important role in two Stanley Cup championships for the Flyers.

On March 8, 1976 Bobby was traded to Pittsburgh Penguins together with Ed van Impe for Gary Inness and future considerations. However Taylor only appeared in two contests before finishing the season in the minor leagues. Following that season he decided to hang up the pads at the age of 31.

In the end Bobby Taylor played in 46 NHL games - winning 15, tying 6 and losing 17. His career GAA is unimpressive at 4.10 and he never had a shutout or playoff experience. Yet he was an important and little known member of the Broad Street Bullies.

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