Chris Taylor named head coach of Amerks

Photo: Rochester Americans

Rochester Americans general manager Randy Sexton announced Friday that Chris Taylor has been named head coach of the club.

Taylor becomes the 32nd coach and the 12th former Amerk in the 62-year history of the franchise to be appointed to the position.

“We’re excited to welcome Chris back to the organization as the next head coach of the Rochester Americans,” said Sexton. “He has a proven track record of developing players in the American Hockey League and there’s certainly no one more familiar with the organization than Chris.”

Taylor, who previously spent a total of 14 seasons in Rochester as a player and coach, returns to the organization after serving as an assistant coach with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins last season. He helped guide the Penguins to an AHL-best 51-20-3-2 (107 points) overall record, winning the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy as regular-season champions while also helping Wilkes-Barre/Scranton to its 14th straight Calder Cup Playoff appearance. The Penguins also finished with the AHL’s top defense under Taylor, allowing a league-low 170 goals-against over 76 games in 2016-17. Additionally, Taylor was instrumental in the development of several Penguins prospects with at least 15 different players earning NHL call-ups throughout the campaign as Pittsburgh captured its second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

Taylor first joined the Amerks staff as development coach prior to the 2011-12 season following a successful 19-year professional career as a player that saw him become one of the all-time Amerk greats to ever don the red, white and blue. He was elevated to assistant coach on Feb. 25, 2013, a position he retained through the 2015-16 campaign.

In 2013-14, Taylor helped guide the Amerks to a record of 37-28-6-5 (85 points) and a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the third consecutive year. He also oversaw a power-play unit that ranked 10th in the AHL with a 19.8% efficiency, marking the second straight year that the Amerks have ranked in the top 10 in man-advantage scoring. Over the course of the season, a total of 16 different players appeared in games for both the Amerks and Sabres as the Rochester coaching staff continued to successfully develop NHL players.

During the 2012-13 season, Taylor helped guide the Amerks to a record of 43-29-3-1 (90 points), good for second place in the North Division and seventh in the Western Conference, as well as a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs for the second straight year. Taylor also commanded a power-play unit that ranked fourth in the AHL at 20.3%.

In his first season as a member of the Amerks coaching staff in 2011-12, Taylor helped guide the team to a 36-26-10-4 record and a berth in the Calder Cup Playoffs. As development coach, Taylor was primarily responsible for working with the team’s forwards. During the season, a total of 11 Amerks players (seven forwards) were called up to the Buffalo Sabres, including left wing Marcus Foligno, who worked extensively with Taylor during the season and was named the NHL Rookie of the Month for March after scoring 11 points in 11 games with the Sabres.

After spending parts of nine seasons with the Amerks between 1999 and 2011, Taylor finished his playing career ranked among the franchise’s all-time leaders in assists (3rd, 339), games played (4th, 519), points (5th, 481) and goals (10th, 142). He also served as team captain during the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons and was an alternate captain during several other campaigns. Taylor received perhaps the highest honor of his career during the 2014-15 season when he was unanimously inducted into the Amerks Hall of Fame on Jan. 10, 2015 in his first year of eligibility, becoming the 56th member of the prestigious club.

A member of the Amerks’ 50th Anniversary Team, Taylor is also a three-time Amerks team MVP and scoring champion (2001-02, 2002-03, 2004-05) and is the only player in franchise history to achieve those two feats in the same season on three occasions. During his final season as a player in 2010-11, Taylor ranked second on the Amerks in scoring with 51 points (10+41) in 72 games. He also finished second on the team in scoring the previous year with 61 points (17+44) when he returned to Rochester following a three-year stint in Germany, where he played for Frankfurt and led the team in scoring all three seasons.

During the 2004-05 campaign in which the Amerks won the Macgregor Kilpatrick Trophy with the AHL’s best regular season record, Taylor was the Amerks scoring leader with 79 points (21+58) and was honored with the AHL’s Fred T. Hunt Award for sportsmanship, determination and dedication to the game of hockey. Taylor also shares the franchise record for most assists in a single game with six, set on Oct. 21, 2005.

During his pro career, Taylor appeared in 149 NHL games with the New York Islanders, Boston Bruins and Sabres, recording 32 points (11+21) and 48 penalty minutes. Of those 149 games, 90 came in a Buffalo uniform. In 2003-04, he set NHL career-highs in games played (54), goals (6), assists (6) and points (12) while with the Sabres.

Prior to joining the Sabres/Amerks organization in 1999, Taylor won two Turner Cup Championships with Denver and Utah of the International Hockey League. The Stratford, Ontario, native was originally drafted by the Islanders in the second round (27th overall) of the 1990 NHL Entry Draft and finished his pro career with 1,297 games played at the NHL, AHL, IHL and European levels.