Kukla's Korner

Above the Glass

Hello Dallas, Meet Taylor Peters

Your newest recruit is currently playing in his overage season with the Portland Winterhawks, but he’s worth the wait. Taylor currently wears the A for the ‘Hawks, serves as the team’s starting center and is Portland’s top penalty killer. In his free time he keeps busy by studying physics, blogging, sleeping on buses and saving a drowning kayaker in the Willamette River.  Never drafted by the NHL, Taylor was a free agent who circled the NHL’s development camp airport before landing in Dallas. He’s a smart, sound hockey investment; allow me to tell you why.

He’s one smart cookie. A few years back when he was just a rookie, Taylor made an obligatory appearance at a fan meet and greet event. That’s where we learned that his academic pursuits included honors physics. Not content to simply prepare for a back-up job as a NASA engineer, Taylor also started his own blog where he keeps us all apprised of his adventures in Portland.  In the three seasons I have covered the Winterhawks, Taylor’s educational pursuits have run the gamut from that physics class to marketing to pre-med.  Don’t be surprised if you see him around Dallas catching up on a little light reading; like "War and Peace," for example.

He does a good Superman impression. About a year ago, Taylor and his billet family’s son came to the aid of a drowning kayaker in the Willamette River. Two nights later, he played  the superhero by scoring the OT winner in a game against the Moose Jaw Warriors. Not only will Taylor make an impressive addition to the Stars’ roster, he’ll be a model Dallas citizen.

Penalty killing is his middle name. When you think about what makes good penalty killers – ridiculous work ethic, teamwork, warrior mentality, hockey sense, razor-sharp awareness and attention to detail – all apply to Taylor, who is currently Portland’s best penalty killer and the local master of the shorthanded goal.

Bring it. Taylor doesn't get into too many fights, but when he does he's all business. He gives new meaning to dropping the mitts. In a fight with Spokane Chief Corbin Baldwin, he didn't even bother with the chirps and the little jabs to get it going. He got right down to business by taking off his gloves and warming up like he was about to enter a boxing match.  Easily one of the best fights I've seen while covering the team.

He knows how to weather the storm. Taylor was sent down from Portland early in his junior career, but he's been a reliable, steady presence ever since.  He is now the team’s starting center and serves as an alternate captain. Taylor circled the NHL airport in recent years, attending development or training camp with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Minnesota Wild and Florida Panthers. In a recent interview, we talked about the biggest lessons he’s learned while living and playing in Portland. In addition to learning “how to sleep on a bus,” he imparted the importance to other young players of using the lows as fuel to get better. That he did; never drafted, Taylor is now the official property of the NHL. The highs and lows of junior hockey led him to the Dallas Stars. We are as excited for him as I hope Stars fans will be when they get their first up close and personal look at Taylor in coming years. 

The best is yet to come. Sunday will be a bit sentimental for us here in Portland, because it’s the last regular season game. That means it’s the last regular season game in which we will hear Norris announce “The Starting Center for your Portland Winterhawks, Number 25, Taylor Peters!” Will Dallas someday hear the same thing in American Airlines Center? Based on how far Taylor’s come in his time with the Winterhawks, I wouldn't be surprised if they do. He’s only 21, but he’s smarter than adults twice his age. He’s got a good back up plan for his post-hockey career and he just might become a published author while he’s at it. Whatever he does in Dallas, Taylor is a reliable, honest and hard working player who will earn that contract and deliver on the promise for which he was signed. Get ready Dallas, your newest Star comes to you direct from Portland and I can personally guarantee you he’s worth every penny of that shiny new contract.

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About Above the Glass

Welcome to Above the Glass, a definitive anti-expert’s guide to hockey. I started blogging in 2009 as part of an effort to learn all 87 rules in the NHL Rulebook in 107 days before the 2010 Olympics, 30 years after I discovered the sport. You can peruse the archival results here. Growing up in Arizona, I didn’t even know hockey existed until February 22, 1980, when the USA played Russia in the Olympics. And just like that, the game of the century changed my life. I still don’t quite understand the icing rule or which faceoff circle goes with what offense, but I do know that every aspect of hockey has something to teach us about life. That’s what you’ll find here, along with my unadulterated passion for the game.

I live in Portland, Oregon, home of the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks. I invite anyone who wants to know more about hockey in the Rose City to visit here, where I blog exclusively about the Winterhawks. I’ll post an occasional musing about the Hawks, the WHL and junior hockey here as well.

Follow me on Twitter: @AbovetheGlass

Email: samantha@kuklaskorner.com