Hello again, Justin Taylor back for one more blog and wrap up of Hockey Heritage Week – a truly unforgettable experience in Kalamazoo.
It was a great event to be a part of and getting two wins made it all the better! First off, I’d like to thank all those that made this week possible. From the media coverage, Phil Pritchard and the Hockey Hall of Fame for letting the Stanley Cup stop in Kalamazoo, all those behind the scenes from the Wings front office and the ECHL, and of course, the fans. A fun and exhilarating week that was one of a kind!
As for the events surrounding the week, it was a formal and emotional Hall of Fame luncheon at the Radisson in downtown Kalamazoo. Our table featured Kalamazoo alumni, Lou Nisker, Neil Meadmore, and Steve Doherty. They were great to sit with, and it was amazing to learn about the foundation they laid four decades ago for guys like me to play in Kalamazoo. I’d like to congratulate our inductees Allan Sirois, Daniel Berthiaume and Craig Brush. What really resonated with me from their speeches is how fast it goes by. The authenticity they spoke with and emotion they showed was just another affirmation of how lucky I am to be a hockey player. To Allan, Daniel and Craig, it’s clear how much you truly love and cherish the game and I was grateful to be a part of your special day.
Our keynote speaker at the event was Ken Holland. He delivered a very detailed speech. He painted a picture of his early career as a professional goalie in the minor-pro ranks to becoming the GM and Vice President of the Detroit Red Wings. The message I took from his speech was that of perseverance! Mr. Holland touched on his early career and the series of decisions he made that altered the trajectory of his professional career as a player and executive. I’m glad to see that he didn’t take his mother’s advice and become a door-to-door vacuum salesman! He stuck to his passion for the game of hockey and found a way to make it work. It goes to show you that anybody who wants something bad enough and is willing to risk it all can achieve tremendous success. Knowing that he has helped foster the careers of players I have competed against shows just how much he cares for the development of players. His message of following your desires and showing perseverance was advice that athletes, both young and old, can admire.
After the luncheon, it was time to get to work against Toledo. The crowds in Kalamazoo were electrifying! I know we felt the energy from the fans on the ice, and it translated into two victories for us. We knew our opposition would be at their best and we rallied together to take both games. They were a pair of hard fought games that were full of vigor. And, let’s face it, it’s always nice to beat your division rival! It was great to see it on the NHL Network the following day and see how I looked on the big screen! High definition never looked so good! It’s even better when you are able to score a couple as well!
Aside from the two wins, the highlight of my week was being able to see the Stanley Cup and snap a picture with it. I’m curious to see if the same grin on my face matches the photo I have from 20 years earlier. I may have to dig it out at my parents’ house just to compare!
Thanks again for taking the time to read, GO WINGS!!
Until next time,
Justin Taylor #93