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FROM COAST TO COAST

by Kim Mueller / Los Angeles Kings
Goalie Daniel Taylor (46) had a tough NHL debut, giving up a goal on the first shot he faced and then having this collision in the third period vs. Dallas on March 29, 2008.

Daniel Taylor has really been banking the frequent flyer miles lately.

Taylor( 700K) appeared in games with the Manchester Monarchs, Los Angeles Kings and Reading Royals during the 2007-08 season marking the second consecutive season that Taylor found himself playing for three different teams.

He bounced around the ECHL during the 2006-07 season.

It's been a mentally draining two years but in the long run, the experience has made Danny a better hockey player and person.

Taylor began the season with the Manchester Monarchs in the third string position behind goaltenders Dan Cloutier and Erik Ersberg. The first two months of the season, he only saw ice time during practice in the Queen City. The beginning of December, Taylor was sent to the ECHL's Reading Royals and won his first three games. A week later, the Monarchs recalled him.

Over the next four months in Manchester, Taylor collected a record of 13-5-2, a 2.40 goals-against-average, a .921 save-percentage and four shutouts in 23 games. Three of his shutouts came within a span of eight days in January in which he was awarded the Rbk/American Hockey League Player of the Week and the Rbk X-Pulse/AHL Goaltender of the Month.

It was on the evening of March 26, that Taylor got the call that made his dreams come true.

"I was eating chicken fingers at J.W. Hills with (Jonathan) Quick and (Josh) Kidd when Monarchs Coach [Mark] Morris called me and said 'Congrats, you're going to the NHL tomorrow!'" said Taylor. "I was in total shock. I called my mom and dad and brother; went home and packed. I didn't sleep at all that night and got on a flight at 6 a.m. the next day."

By the time he finished all of his phone calls to his family, his two teammates that had joined him for dinner were long gone. Center Brian Boyle, who made his NHL debut in December, was in the restaurant and offered some advice for Danny.

"Boyle told me to be myself; it's like every other game," explained Taylor.

Taylor made his National Hockey League debut on March 29 against the Dallas Stars when he replaced netminder Erik Ersberg at the start of the third period.

"(Coach Marc) Crawford came into the locker room with four minutes to go (in the second intermission) and said, 'Alright Tayls, you're going to start the third period,' " explained Taylor. "I didn't really hear it and had to ask Erik (Ersberg) what he said. Once I realized what was going on, I went into the bathroom and puked. When I returned to the locker room, it was empty. Everyone was on the bench. I walked out and (Rob) Blake said, 'Let's go kid!'"

Taylor stepped out onto the ice at the STAPLES Center in front of 17,849 fans with his team down 5-1. He tried to focus on the task at hand but couldn't help but look around him when the puck was at the other end of the ice. With his heart pumping, the play came into his zone four minutes after the period started. Dallas Stars right wing Jere Lehtinen skated in on a breakaway.

"Lehtinen came in and let it (puck) go in a hurry," explained Taylor. "It happened so fast."

The first shot he faced beat him.

Lehtinen let a quick snap shot go that beat Taylor. The second shot he faced came quickly after that but Taylor wasn't going to let that one in. With the first goal against him out of the way, he was able to settle down and focus. Stars left wing Niklas Hagman deflected a shot off into the net for the second goal of the third period. Taylor stopped 8-of-10 shots in his debut, a Kings 7-2 loss.

"I'm happy with the performance," said Taylor. "I thought it went well; Dallas is a good team. I'm also glad to get my first game out of the way. I'm ready for another chance this season."

Just by appearing in an NHL game, Taylor became the answer to a trivia question, becoming the seventh different goaltender to suit up for the Kings in 2007-08, which tied an NHL record. The 1989-90 Quebec Nordiques and 2002-03 St. Louis Blues also used seven goalies in one season. Jean-Sebastien Aubin, Jonathan Bernier, Dan Cloutier, Erik Ersberg, Jason LaBarbera, Jonathan Quick and Taylor all saw action in the Kings' net. In addition, Taylor became the 11th different goaltender for the Kings from 2006-07 and 2007-08, which set an NHL record for most goaltenders used in back-to-back seasons. Barry Brust, Sean Burke, Yutaka Fukufuji and Mathieu Garon were the four other goaltenders to suit up for the Kings during that two year span.

Taylor spent a lot of the 2007-08 season on airplanes, traveling between Reading, Manchester and Los Angeles.

Following his debut, Taylor spent the next week shuffling back and forth to Reading, Pennsylvania. Having played in three games for the ECHL's Reading Royals during the regular season, he had to play in at least two more games to qualify for the playoffs. With the Kings out of the playoffs, Danny's services were going to be needed in Reading. He found himself on a red-eye flight the night of his debut (March 29) and playing just 36 seconds for the Royals the following night (March 30). After his brief time between the pipes, he was back on a flight to Los Angeles to serve as Ersberg's backup against the San Jose Sharks on March 31. Unfortunately, with all of the flying and playing, Taylor's sleep deprivation had set in.

"I didn't sleep all week and so on my call-up to LA to serve as backup for Erik when they hosted San Jose, I bought one of those neck pillows," said Taylor. "My ticket said I was going from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. Once I got on the plane, I put my pillow around my neck and passed out. I woke up as the plane was landing. Assuming I was in Los Angeles, I gathered up my stuff, got off the plane and headed to baggage claim. When my bags didn't show up, I went to the baggage claim office. I was told my bags were in route to Los Angeles and that I was in Phoenix. I didn't know the plane was going to stop to let people off and refuel in Phoenix before continuing on to LA. I ended up catching a flight two hours later that got me in LA in town for the game that night, but it was embarrassing."

Sleep deprived and tired of traveling, Taylor found his savior.

"Neck pillows are unbelievable!" exclaimed Taylor.

Following the Kings season, Taylor helped the Royals advance to the second round of the playoffs before they lost in the seventh game to the eventual winners.

"If we had won that game, we had a good chance of winning it all," said Taylor.

Traveling thousands of miles, being a healthy scratch, making his NHL debut and collecting the best record of his professional career, Taylor had a rough season.

"The first two months were the hardest," explained Taylor. "Collecting two shutouts and then being a healthy scratch the next night was difficult. I was either really high or really low. I took each day one at a time and learned from every experience. I improved on my game and my focus."

After a couple of very long, roller coaster seasons, Taylor took a good month off; a nice break from the ice. He is working out daily, alternating morning and evening workouts Monday through Thursday and then hitting the bike on Fridays. He will be stepping back onto the ice this week and focusing on getting back into playing shape, his rebound control and increase his overall speed. Then it's off to Los Angeles for the Kings Development Camp in July followed by a goaltender camp in Vancouver in August.

As for the rest of the summer, Taylor is catching up on sleep and relaxation with a little golf and fishing mixed in. He's also reading a few books and catching a couple movies.

"I'm a big fan of Lee Child books," said Taylor. "They're action thrillers. I am a fan of airport books too, because they are the best sellers."

Living in Kingston, Ontario, this summer, Danny frequents the local drive-in movie theater.

"It's the best thing to do in Kingston!"

The coast-to-coast travels may have been exhausting mentally and physically but Daniel Taylor is well rested now and ready to focus on next season – no matter which team in the Kings organization he plays for….or all three!

Taylor is one of 39 prospects that will be in camp at Toyota Sports Center from July 8-18 as the Kings host their annual Development Camp.

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