March 18, 2016
The NHL Entry Draft is a proud time for prospects but even more so for parents. But imagine the surprise Taylor Pyatt's dad had when his name was called instead of his son's!
New York Islanders scout Earl Ingarfield announced that with the eighth overall pick in 1999 they selected Nelson Pyatt! Perhaps Ingarfield should not be blamed for the slip up. After all, in the 1970s Taylor Pyatt's dad Nelson played nearly 300 games in the National Hockey League.
Nelson Pyatt - whose youngest son Tom also played in the NHL - was a third round draft pick (39th overall) by the Detroit Red Wings in the 1973 NHL Amateur Draft. A strong Oshawa Generals center, may have been selected even high had he not missed a good portion of his junior season with a broken wrist.
Pyatt only played nine games with Detroit, being moved to Washington two years later. In his first full NHL season he led the woeful Capitals with 26 goals and scored 49 points overall.
But not all was well in Washington.
"I didn't get along with management in Washington, and long before the season was over I knew I wouldn't be back there for another year."
Despite his offensive production, he struggled defensively with a -56 rating.
"I had the second highest minus total of any player in the league, which was kind of embarrassing and it didn't make me too happy either."
That led to Pyatt's trade to the Colorado Rockies in exchange for Guy Charron.
"I know I need to keep working on being a two-way player. That's what I want to be. That why (coach Johnny Wilson) has me skating on a line with a couple of good checkers - Gary Croteau and Phil Roberto."
Pyatt responded with 23 goals and 45 points. His defensive rating was still -17, which was about average on the weak Rockies team.
That proved to be Pyatt's last full season in the NHL. In the next two years he played a combined 41 games, but spent most of the time in the minor leagues.
By 1980 Pyatt was without a NHL contract at all. He extended his career by playing three seasons in Germany and Austria before returning to Thunder Bay, Ontario to become a firefighter and teach his sons hockey on the backyard rink.
He is most proud of his sons' status as solid two way NHL players.
"I was a decent skater, put up a few points, but their game is much more rounded than mine."