Rangers fans - thanks for submitting your questions to defenseman Jake Taylor. The 6-4, 220-pound Minnesota native is currently participating in the club's Prospect Development Camp in Calgary, Alberta.
Taylor, 21, appeared in 39 games for the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers of the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) last season, registering two goals and six assists for eight points. He ranked third on the team in penalty minutes with 68 and was one of five freshmen who played regularly for the Gophers, ranking third among first-year skaters in games played.
Prior to attending the University of Minnesota, the blueliner skated in 121 games for the Green Bay Gamblers of the United States Hockey League (USHL) in 2001-02 and 2002-03, registering nine goals and 10 assists for 19 points, along with 315 penalty minutes.
The Rochester, Minnesota native was the Rangers fifth selection, 177th overall, in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Taylor Bio / Stats >>Rangers Sign Taylor to a Professional Contract >>
- 8/4/04Taylor Honored with USHL's Curt Hammer Award >>
_______________________________Q: How do you like the Development Camp in Calgary? What have you been focusing on and working on the most this summer as Training Camp approaches?
- Baskar Viswanathan
JT: I can't say enough about this Camp. This is my third summer that I've been doing this. It's been unreal for me because of the skill work that we do and all of the strength training that we do with Reg (Grant) and Daniel (Hedin). As far as the Camp goes and the development of the players, it's been unbelievable. The things that this Camp has done for me over the past three years, I really can't say enough about. I would say that this summer my main goal has been to get ready for Training Camp, but that's been a little hard because I haven't been able to skate over the past few weeks because I pulled my groin the first week. So I think right now the strength aspect has been terrific. I'd say just getting ready for Training Camp and being in the best shape that I can be in is what I'm concentrating the most on now.
__________Q: How is the injury healing?
JT: It's basically at 100% right now. I'll be able to skate on Monday. It was a two-week injury and it's not bad at all right now.
__________Q: Jake - seeing how the Rangers lack a big crease-moving defenseman, what steps have you taken to improve your foot speed and strength?
- Ricky Otazu
JT: I think the big thing with me is working hard in the summer and coming to this Camp. The skill work we do every day really helps. I just try to focus on certain aspects to my game to try to get better - the foot work and edging work helps my skating and has made me a little more agile than I was a few seasons ago.
__________Q: Jake - the scouting reports are useful, but hockey is the ultimate team sport. Aside from your physical skills, what intangibles do you bring to the table?
- Glen Surnamer
JT: For me, I just try to work as hard as I can. I take pride in being a team guy and working hard and playing a physical role. I understand that I'm not going to score a lot of points, but at the same time, I like to try to contribute a little bit that way. I think most of all, I'm a guy that will stick up for his teammates and play hard every night and hopefully be the kind of guy that others on the team can look up to. I guess that's how I would characterize myself.
__________Q: Jake - congrats on signing with the Blueshirts! Who was your favorite team growing up and what players would you say you try to emulate? Can't wait to see you on the blueline in the Garden real soon!
- Doug Loucks
JT: My favorite team growing up, since I'm from Minnesota, was the Minnesota North Stars but then they left when I was pretty young. Since then, I have pretty much been all over the map with watching teams. I'd say the players that I try to emulate the most are Rob Blake and Derien Hatcher - guys that are bigger and play a hard game. I'd say the player that I probably watched the most was Brian Leetch. I love how he's able to play such a skilled game but he also is gritty, blocked shots and other things like that. I think growing up he was the guy I watched the most.
__________Q: Congratulations on signing with the Rangers. I truly enjoyed watching you play at with the Gophers last season. I am curious what your favorite hockey memory is up to this point and why?
JT: I think my favorite hockey memory so far was last year when we played North Dakota in the Conference Final of the (NCAA) tournament. It was amazing how many Gopher fans were there at the Xcel Energy Center and it was cool to see how much they love the hockey program. Being a part of that was amazing. It was a tough decision to leave because of the good people at Minnesota, but I truly enjoyed my season as a Gopher.
__________Q: Jake ... first, Congratulations! It's always good to see Gophers moving onto professional careers. We would have liked to have had you for a couple of more years but ... oh well. Excluding the money factor, do you feel your development will be faster with the Rangers than playing at Minnesota? Also, can you tell me about your daily training you do in the off-season. Thanks.
- Gopher J
JT: I definitely think that I would have improved on certain things if I had stayed in college. The college rink is bigger, so I would be able to work on my skating, but I think at the end of the day, I thought that the pro style of game is more fitting to how I play. I think for development reasons it's better for me to be in a NHL rink and work on things like being more physical and other parts of the game that are more suited to a professional style. I can still work on my skating on a NHL-size ice surface, but to keep developing my physical style of play, I think it was the right decision (to turn pro).
__________Q: I have read that you have been involved in a lot of charity work during your days at Green Bay of the USHL and are a solid person off the ice. How would you describe your personal character? Do you feel that part of being a good player on the ice has anything to do with your personality off the ice? Thanks and good luck.
JT: I think it has a lot to do with it. If I was trying to be a leader and a team player on the ice, I don't think it would make any sense to be causing trouble off the ice. I just try to live the same way that I play - keep my nose clean, keep working hard and continue to try to do the things that make me a better person, whether it's giving back to the community or things along those lines. I just live every day the way I play hockey - as hard and dedicated as I possibly can and also try to be the best person that I can be.
__________Q: Jake - congratulations. With your childhood friend Bryce Lampman also being part of the Rangers organization, what advice has Bryce given you in making the transition into professional hockey?
JT: Bryce and I played together all the way through youth hockey. He's one of my really, really good friends. The nice thing about Bryce is that he's always been there for me. He's just a good person and a good friend. We work-out together and train together during the summer. It's really nice to have that comfort of him being there and just having that familiar face there (in Training Camp) will hopefully make my transition to the pro game a lot easier for me.
__________Q: What are your goals for 2004-05?
- Bob D.
JT: The biggest thing for me is that I realize that I have a long way to go and there are many things that I still have to improve on, so I think my goals for next year is to keep working on my skating and the skills of the game. But also be able to be a role player, whether it be making a good first pass or just being strong defensively. I don't think my goals have changed much at all over the past few years. I just look to keep working hard at the game and hopefully things will work out for the best.