Telford Tigers coach and General Manager Tom Watkins has paid tribute to Tigers legend Chuck Taylor after news broke that his number 21 will be retired by the club.
The Canadian defenceman arrived in Shropshire from Solihull Barons in 1985, just months after the opening of the Telford Ice Rink.
Taylor’s leadership saw the Tigers quickly establish a dedicated local fan base, alongside widespread support from Shropshire’s business community. He led the club to a string of national honours, including the British Division One Championship in 1987 and the Benson and Hedges Plate in 1992.
And Watkins believes it’s only right that his contributions and achievements to the club are marked in such a decorative way.
“Chuck Taylor is a legend of ice hockey in Telford and without his hard work the club wouldn’t be here today,” Watkins said. “He made key contacts with fans and businesses in Shropshire that are still going strong now.
“That groundwork is so important for the club so we wanted to mark those achievements by ensuring Chuck’s shirt will be seen in the rafters at Telford Ice Rink for generations to come.
The Hexagon Telford Tigers will retire the famous #21 shirt of the man who set the club in motion almost 40 years ago – Chuck Taylor.
— Telford Tigers (@Telford_Tigers) September 15, 2021
“I am excited to honour one of the founding fathers of Telford Tigers in this way and I know the fans will feel the same.
“The ceremony will be a great opportunity for us all to come together as fans of ice hockey in Telford and celebrate the occasion.”
Taylor scored a mammoth 346 goals and 382 assists in 279 games for Telford Tigers over nine seasons, often winning games single-handedly with his trademark blue line slapshot.
He guided the early careers of many Tigers juniors and countless players across the country were coached by Taylor as a youngster.
But it was his impact within Shropshire’s business community that had an equally important impact on the growth of the club, spending days knocking on doors of businesses across the county, drumming up sponsorship that would keep the club alive.
His playing number will be retired and lifted to the rafters of Telford Ice Rink ahead of the Tigers’ English National League game against Basingstoke Bison on Sunday 24th October, where he will be in attendance for the special night.
“I always look back at my time in Telford as one of hard work, but also an incredible achievement for a start-up club,” Taylor said.
“The passion for ice hockey in the town was immediate from the first few weeks and that continued as we went from strength to strength.
“Businesses in Shropshire were very open to working with what was a new sport to the area, but as soon as I got them to a game, they were hooked by the atmosphere generated by over 2,500 screaming fans.
“It is a fantastic honour to have the #21 shirt retired in my honour. I feel very humble about it but also delighted to keep such close links with the club.”
Taylor will be the third to have been honoured in this way, where he’ll join Claude Dumas and Daniel MacKriel in the rafters.