Justin Taylor was tired of moving, and he was tired of being traded.
So when he joined the Idaho Steelheads - his third ECHL team this season - Taylor wanted to make a good impression on coach Brad Ralph, figuring that would help him stick around for a while.
It was just a matter of time.
"He's the type of guy that grows on you," Ralph said. "Taking shots to the face, nothing fazes him. He's a warrior. He'll do whatever he can for the team, and I think that's the kind of stuff that grows on you, so he's starting to win us over now.
"He's seeing more ice time, and he's producing with that ice time."
Taylor showed that in an important series last week against the Alaska Aces, the top team in the Western Conference. The 5-foot-11, 195-pound Taylor had an assist and a goal in Idaho's win Friday night. He followed that with another goal as Idaho completed a three-game sweep Saturday night.
"He was on my line last week, and he was definitely the guy who was getting us going," fellow forward Tyler Gron said. "He was working hard, and it was noticeable. People are starting to notice him as he elevates his game."
If the past is any indication, Taylor will continue to raise the level of his game into the postseason, which will begin for Idaho on April 3 at CenturyLink Arena (opponent still to be determined).
Taylor was Kalamazoo's leading goal-scorer in the playoffs when the Wings went to the Kelly Cup Finals in 2011. He had nine goals in 19 games during that run, and the next season he had seven points in 14 games as Kalamazoo reached the Eastern Conference finals.
That playoff experience should prove invaluable for a Steelheads team loaded with young players.
"I've played in over (30) playoff games now," said Taylor, who has nine points in 20 games after Idaho's 5-3 loss against Ontario on Wednesday night. "So I've seen a lot of pain and suffering, guys playing through bumps and bruises. You play for each other."
Taylor hopes to be playing for his Steelheads teammates deep into a postseason run. He began the season with Kalamazoo, but was traded to Trenton after 11 games. Then, after 19 games with Trenton, he was shipped to Idaho to complete the trade for former Steelheads forward Jacob Cepis.
"It's been a rough year for me, being traded twice and going from one side of the country to the other," Taylor said.
Taylor, however, has shown that he can handle a little adversity, on and off the ice. A few weeks ago, he was struck by a stick just above his eye, requiring 15 stitches. The next night, he took a redirected puck to the mouth.
"My face was blown up pretty good for three or four days," Taylor said.
"He's a gritty hockey player," Ralph said. "I bet you if he scored a goal off his nose he'd be happy."
With the playoffs on the horizon, Ralph might be right.
"Now's the time where you've really got to pick up your game and show not only yourself, but your teammates, that you're in it for the long run," Taylor said.
After bouncing from team to team this season, an extended run in the postseason with Idaho sounds pretty good to Taylor and his coach.
"He's the type of player, going into the playoffs, that you need on your roster," Ralph said. "When tough times come, you need guys who will rise up, and I think he will."
Chris Langrill: 377-6424