Legends of Hockey - Spotlight - One on One with Cyclone Taylor
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One on One with Cyclone Taylor

8 MAY 2012
Cyclone Taylor led the Ottawa Senators to the 1909 ECAHA championship and the team became holders of the Stanley Cup.
Cyclone Taylor led the Ottawa Senators to the 1909 ECAHA championship and the team became holders of the Stanley Cup. (Hockey Hall of Fame)
Considered one of the early superstars of hockey, 'Cyclone' Taylor bridged the era of the seven-player game into the six-player game of hockey we know today.

He was born Frederick Wellington Taylor on June 23, 1885 (the year is an oft-debated subject of historical hockey discussions) in Tara, Ontario, a tiny community within the municipality of Arran-Elderslie. The family moved to nearby Listowel when Fred was 6, and it was there that his passion for hockey began.

"There were outdoor rinks all over my hometown. I could skate from home to school nearly all winter, so that skating became as natural as walking to me," Taylor told Stan and Shirley Fischler in their book, 'Heroes and History.' "I didn't really come into my own until I began to play for Stratford in 1902."

Taylor's outstanding skills were noted locally and teams fought for the services of the teenaged phenom. In fact, he sat out the 1904-05 season while rival leagues disputed his rights. In 1905-06, following the lure of money as professionalism began to leak into hockey, Taylor was invited to play for Portage la Prairie in the Manitoba Senior Amateur League. Several teams battled for his attention and after just 4 games, Fred moved back east and joined the Portage Lake Hockey Club based in Houghton, Michigan. The International Professional Hockey League suspended operations after the 1906-07 season due to the dire economic conditions of the area.

yclone Taylor was signed in 1910 by the Renfrew Millionaires franchise which was preparing to join the newly founded National Hockey Association in 1910.
In a transaction that caused a stir across Canada, Cyclone Taylor was signed in 1910 by the Renfrew Millionaires franchise which was preparing to join the newly founded National Hockey Association in 1910. (Hockey Hall of Fame)
Undeterred, Fred joined the Ottawa Senators of the Eastern Canada Amateur Hockey Association in 1907-08, and spent two years starring with them. "I had already built a reputation for myself and was lucky enough to have acquired the catchy nickname, 'Cyclone.'" The name came from a sportswriter with the Ottawa Free Press: "I understand that this boy was nicknamed 'Tornado' when he played in Manitoba, and I further understand that when he moved into the International League, they called him, 'Whirlwind.' Starting today, I am re-christening him 'Cyclone' Taylor."

At the start of the 1908-09 season, Taylor briefly joined the Pittsburgh Athletic Club of the Western Professional Hockey League. He was able to play for a month before returning for the start of Ottawa's season. In that second season with the Senators, Taylor and the team were awarded the Stanley Cup for their first-place finish in the ECAHA. At the time, the Stanley Cup was awarded through winning challenges, and the only challenge received by Ottawa came from the Winnipeg Shamrocks, but arrived too late in the season to accept.

Controversy again reared its ugly head in 1909. Disenchanted with his salary in Ottawa, 'Cyclone' agreed to join the Renfrew Creamery Kings of the newly-formed National Hockey Association.

Newsy Lalonde (L), Frank Patrick (M) and Cyclone Taylor (R) of the Renfrew Millionaires.
Newsy Lalonde (L), Frank Patrick (M) and Cyclone Taylor (R) of the Renfrew Millionaires. (Hockey Hall of Fame)
A week later, he renounced his decision and announced that he was going to stay in Ottawa, but he changed his mind again and signed a lucrative contract with Renfrew. Although the Renfrew club was officially called the Creamery Kings, the athletes were so well paid that the fans referred to them as the Millionaires. In spite of the escalated salaries of talented players, the team didn't capture a championship, and amidst the red ink of financial ruin, the team folded at the conclusion of the 1910-11 season.

During his time in Renfrew, fans declared that Taylor was such an amazing player that he actually scored a goal skating backwards. "That simply isn't true," Cyclone clarified. "Even though there were many people who would swear they saw it happen, it's just one of those stories that was blown up."

In 1911, Taylor became the property of the NHA's Montreal Wanderers, but he threatened to retire rather than join the Wanderers. So insistent that he would never play for the Montreal club, Taylor dressed for Ottawa in a game against the Wanderers in January 1912, but he was replaced after one period. The Wanderers protested and both Taylor and the Senators were fined $100 and Cyclone was given an indefinite suspension. Nevertheless, at the end of the season, he was selected for the NHA All-Star team which played a series against the three Pacific Coast Hockey Association teams.

Cyclone Taylor joined the Vancouver Millionaires in 1912-13. The following season, after being moved from cover-point (defence) to centre, Taylor led the PCHA in scoring with 24 goals and 39 points. He was the scoring leader in 1914-15, too, collecting 45 points. That spring, the PCHA champion Millionaires faced the NHA champion Ottawa Senators for the Stanley Cup. The best-of-five series only needed three games before Vancouver proved its supremacy and the Millionaires were awarded the Stanley Cup.

Cyclone Taylor was voted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.
Cyclone Taylor was voted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame and the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame.
(Imperial Oil-Turofsky/Hockey Hall of Fame)
Taylor's prodigious scoring ability was him lead the league in scoring five times altogether. In 1915-16, he totalled 35 points, 43 in 1917-18 and 36 in 1918-19. It is possible that he would also have won the scoring title in 1916-17, but appendicitis kept him out of action for five weeks.

Cyclone's scoring fell of due to injury in 1919-20. He missed half of the 1920-21 season and decided to retire. After missing the next season, he decided to return in 1922-23. "I played one last game when I was 40 years old, and I could just feel that I couldn't do some of the things I used to."

Cyclone Taylor was selected for the PCHA's All-Star Team four times.

Reflecting on his career, Taylor said, "I was used to going on at the start of the game and playing to the finish. Any man between the ages of 18 and 35 who can't play 60 minutes of hockey just doesn't want to play, that's all."

Cyclone remained involved in the game he loved even after he retired. From 1936-37 to 1938-39, he was the president of the Pacific Coast Hockey League. In 1947, Cyclone Taylor was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

After breaking his hip in 1978, Cyclone's health deteriorated and he died in Vancouver on June 9, 1979, two weeks shy of his 95th birthday.

Kevin Shea is the Editor of Publications and Online Features for the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Cyclone Taylor was given the honour of turning the sod for the construction of the Hockey Hall of Fame building that opened in 1961.
Cyclone Taylor was given the honour of turning the sod for the construction of the Hockey Hall of Fame building that opened in 1961.
(Imperial Oil-Turofsky/Hockey Hall of Fame)