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Like Father, Like Son

by Joey Sykes / Pittsburgh Penguins

At just 27 years old, Penguins defenseman Taylor Chorney has already had a long and winding professional career, something not a lot of players can say at such a young age. However, despite donning six different sweaters over the past seven seasons, Chorney is forging his own path while giving and receiving help along the way.

Born in Thunder Bay, Ontario but raised in Hastings, Minnesota, Chorney played two years at the highly esteemed Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school in his home state before spending three seasons at the University of North Dakota.

During his college years, Chorney represented the United States three times in international play – winning a gold medal at the World Under-18 Championship and a bronze at the 2007 World Junior Championship.

The early success to Chorney’s hockey career can be partly attributed to the fact that hockey runs in his blood. His father Marc also played college hockey at North Dakota – and coincidentally, was also a defenseman with the Penguins from 1980-1983. Taylor loves the fact that the two have a common bond that unites them.

“I think just growing up knowing that my dad played college hockey where I played college hockey and getting a chance to play in Pittsburgh like he did has been pretty cool for the both of us,” Chorney said. “He was definitely a proud father being able to see me play in this jersey. It’s valuable for me just being able to have somebody to talk to and somebody that has been through the grind of pro hockey and the ups and the downs. He’s definitely been a valuable asset to me.”

While Chorney admires what his father accomplished, he doesn’t feel pressured to live up to any expectations.

“I don’t look at it too much that I’m trying to come out from behind his shadow or anything,” Chorney said. “I know what he accomplished as a player and as a person in general. It’s big shoes to fill. He’s a great man, but I think I need to learn what I can from him and become my own person and my own player, but at the same time use the knowledge that he has to advance my career as far as I can.”

Chorney isn’t the only person to notice his father’s influence on his career. Fellow defenseman Brian Dumoulin, who has played with him at both the AHL and the NHL levels, sees an unrivaled level of enthusiasm for the game that Chorney must have adopted from his father.

“I’m sure he got the love of the game from his dad and I’m sure a lot of his hockey talent comes from his dad,” Dumoulin said. “The fact that he taught him, I’m sure that has a lot to do with how much passion he has for the game.”

After a successful collegiate and international career, Chorney was selected by Edmonton in the second round (36th overall) of the 2005 NHL Draft and made his NHL debut with the Oilers on April 20, 2009. He went on to play 61 NHL games with them and St. Louis while also spending time with Springfield, Oklahoma City, Peoria and Chicago of the American Hockey League.

After being signed as a free agent by the Penguins last summer, Chorney began the season with Wilkes-Barre Scranton. There he continued to work on his game and after posting a plus-36 rating, which ranked first on the team and third in the AHL, was called up to the NHL for the stretch run and stayed for the Stanley Cup playoffs after a slew of injuries ravaged the blue line.

“There’s so much to learn,” Chorney said “For me, I just to try not to be too overwhelmed with the situation. I’ve been having a pretty good year in (Wilkes-Barre-Scranton) just kind of playing my game and trusting my instincts and habit. I think that just coming out here and being assertive and being confident in my capabilities is the biggest thing.”

Of course, there’s more to being a hockey player than just ability. According to 21-year-old rookie blueliner Derrick Pouliot, Chorney is known for being a respected leader on and off the ice. That shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as Chorney was captain of the Chicago Wolves and an alternate with Wilkes-Barre.

“He’s a leader and a good guy in the group,” Pouliot said. “He’s a guy you can ask for advice because he’s a little bit older. He’s been around, he knows the game, and he takes care of himself well. He knows how to play properly. He’s definitely a guy you can learn from.”

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