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Taking the skills he learned playing hockey on his family's backyard rink, this exceptional athlete went on to enjoy an amateur and professional career spanning the 1990s to 2010s. Advancing through the minor hockey system, his talents earned him a spot within the Thunder Bay Kings AAA program. His high scoring abilities helped the club claim the 1997 Kobe Cup as Ontario bantam champions, earning him tournament MVP honours.

A strong power forward, he was drafted by the Sudbury Wolves as their first round pick, going 4th overall in the 1997 OHL Priority Selection draft. Starring with the Wolves for three seasons, he collected 91 goals and 104 assists in 194 games. A top player with the 1998-99 Under-18 Nations Cup team, he helped lead Canada to a gold medal, and won the fastest skater competition at the 1999 Canadian Hockey Leagues Top Prospects game.

Selected in the first round of the 1999 NHL draft by the New York Islanders, he went 8th overall, which was the highest ever for a Thunder Bay player at that time. Joining the Islanders line up for the 2000-01 season, he was carrying on a family tradition, with his father Nelson having spent time in the NHL during the 1970s. After one season with the Islanders, he moved to the forward line of the Buffalo Sabres, spending four seasons with the club and helping them advance to 2005-06 Eastern Conference playoff finals. More NHL playoff action followed during his three seasons with the Vancouver Canucks from 2006-09.

Making the move to the Phoenix Coyotes, he enjoyed three more seasons of playoff hockey, contributing key goals and assists during the teams second and third round action. Joining the forward line of the New York Rangers at the start of the 2012-13 season, he enjoyed another second round playoff run before moving over to the Pittsburgh Penguins mid-way through 2014. Retiring from the NHL following 13 seasons, he left behind a record of having skated in 859 regular season and 69 playoff games, with 150 goals and 154 assists.

Finishing up his professional playing days by spending the 2014-15 season on the ice in Switzerland with his fellow NHL-playing brother Tom, he helped Geneva-Servette win the 2014 Spengler Cup. Moving behind the bench, he passed along his knowledge to the next generation of hockey stars, serving on the coaching staff of the Phoenix Jr. Coyotes, helping lead their 16-U team to the Tier 1 Elite League 2021-22 national title, remaining active with the club today.

Inducted into the Northwestern Ontario Sports Hall of Fame, September 17, 2022

Taylor Pyatt

Thunder Bay
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