Justin Taylor’s season followed the typical Reign trajectory. He got off to a slow start then picked up his game in the second half.
When the 28-year-old left wing arrived from Idaho as a midseason pick-up, he was often slotted in as the 10th forward. After missing nearly three weeks in January and February with a back injury, he became a regular on the top line. Taylor had four goals, nine points and was a plus-1 in his final 12 games.
The reasons for Taylor’s slow start were more obvious than for some of his teammates. Read on …
How do you evaluate the season?
I think as a whole, when you look at it from a team standpoint it’s obviously a disappointing season. Anytime you don’t get into the playoffs, it’s a disappointment. Simple as that. Especially with the fan support we had, it would have been nice to get some playoff dates at home. Overall as far as team-wise, I’d say it’s a disappointment. It was a good group of guys, lots of fun, but the on-ice product was disappointing.
How about for you personally?
I was happy with the way I finished in the second half and down the stretch. … I had limited training over the summer. My back wasn’t ready for the high intensity. I was a little disappointed i didn’t get any call-ups to the AHL again. That was my goal. I got a lot of experience in that league. I wanted to get back there. I thought maybe I played well enough at times. At other times I didn’t.
The time off in January seemed to be a turning point for your season.
I used that time to really get my body back to where it needed to be. And my head too. After the midseason trade, it shocks you. I was surprised. It took me a little while to get over it. Once I got my head right and got back into the kind of shape I needed, I got more comfortable on the ice. That translated to more confidence.
That was a turning point for myself and for the team. We started to jell more around that time. Even though we were losing, we were in the games, they were close games.
Where do you see yourself next season?
I was just talking to Karl (Taylor) about that today. If you asked me three months ago I would’ve said most likely I’d be in Europe. I’m getting to that age where I need to go over and start making a little more money. It’s also a little easier on the body, as far as the European schedule. But I really had fun here. I loved the area.
I haven’t closed the door on returning next season. I’ve played for a number of teams, and the Reign really run a top-notch organization. It starts at the top with Justin Kemp. It translates, and it shows in the fan attendance. I think it’s probably the top place to play in the ECHL. … The building, facilites, living arrangements, the way you’re treated around town – it’s a credit in the cap to the Reign.
Would you feel that way if the team had gone on a playoff run?
I guess there’s that little feeling of some unfinished business. I liked our core down the stretch. The team got pretty close. I think there’s something to be built on there. If I did go to Europe, it would be difficult if I didn’t see the next progression with the team. I think there’s a core to build around now. A few guys at the beginning of the year started leaving. Once our roster was set, we jelled a little more. That makes me want to come back too. I think this is a playoff team now. We were beating top teams.
Victoria, who we almost caught them, they’re starting to roll in the playoffs now. They found their stride. I think if the season went another week, week and a half, we would have been in. we would have been a scary team to play.
What’s home for you?
Edmonton. But I really like it out here. I’m in no hurry to get home. My roommate (Kyle Kraemer) and I rented a place in Santa Monica for a couple months. That’s the other reason I’d like to come back, we became close friends and roommates. He could be back as well. He’d like me to come, and I’d feel the same way. That’s another positive.