Bryan Trottier article - Newsday
- Trottier's grand homecoming
March 5, 2006
No hard feelings.
Bryan Trottier was, is and always will be an Islander, as far as
Islanders fans are concerned. It doesn't matter that he used to coach
That was obvious last night, when it was 1980 again at Nassau
Coliseum. It was clear that Long Islanders still love all of the
players who started that four-year Stanley Cup reign. Fans cheered
for every one of them as they were introduced in a stirring and
touching pregame ceremony. But they had a little extra feeling for
Trottier, just like old times.
Maybe it is because he likely was the best two-way player in hockey
when the Islanders were the best team. Perhaps it was because he best
embodied the spirit of the Islanders in the early 1980s: Extremely
talented, utterly hard-nosed, dramatically low-key.
Possibly it is because he still is the franchise's all-time leading
In any case, he has a special place in Long Island's heart. And vice
"I'll always call this home," he said before the 1980 team was
saluted in a 25th anniversary celebration (delayed a year by the NHL
lockout). "This will always be a big part of my life. I was a kid
when I got here and I grew up here. My original home is in
Saskatchewan and those are my roots. But this is my home."
The cheers for Trottier last night were rivaled only by those for his
buddy Mike Bossy. "I'm always extremely honored to be applauded the
way I am when I get back here and have any kind of liaison with the
fans," said Bossy, yet another Hall of Famer. "I'm humbled by it."
Humility always was one of the best qualities of those Islanders.
Last night was one of the best occasions the Coliseum has seen since
Trottier and Bossy skated on the same line. Their classy team
received the kind of toast they deserved, capped when captain Denis
Potvin came on the ice with the Stanley Cup and passed it along.
There was a private party Friday night at which the players got to
say how good coach Al Arbour looks after having suffered a serious
staph infection. "I'm upright," Arbour said. "But I've got a bad back
from all the darts these guys have been shooting at me."
Trottier remembered everything about his Islanders experience, back
to his first trip to the Coliseum as a draftee, during the 1975
playoffs. He recalled walking up to the press box, hearing the Long
Island accents of the vendors: "Beeah heeah!" He couldn't forget
being "totally intimidated" by the noise and thinking, "I'm going to
have an opportunity to play in this building someday? That is
It got most phenomenal on May 24, 1980, when Bob Nystrom scored the
overtime goal that won the Stanley Cup and Trottier was the first
Islander ever named MVP of the playoffs.
"Ken Morrow was screaming 'We won!' and I was saying, 'Ken, I'm so
tired,' " Trottier said, recalling using his last gasp of energy to
try to touch the Cup for the first time. "We were all chasing each
other like a bunch of little kids."
But life isn't all Conn Smythe Awards and silver Cups. In the past 25
years, Trottier has endured bankruptcy, an unwanted departure from
the Islanders, a broken first marriage, an unsatisfying turn as an
Islanders executive and a brief, very unsuccessful shot as coach of
The Rangers, of all people. The team whose fans Potvin openly taunted
last night (in a little payback for a quarter- century of Potvin
chants at the Garden).
"The Rangers organization was nothing but first-class to me,"
Trottier said. "Whenever I've been in New York since, I've had a
different appreciation for Rangers fans, having felt the Ranger
loyalty. There's no fun in being fired, but the experience was
nothing but first-class."
Last night was his first appearance at the Islanders' home as an ex-
Rangers coach. All was forgiven and forgotten. He looked just fine in
his Islanders jersey.
Maybe there will be a place other than the rafters for No. 19. The
Islanders could do worse than hire him as an assistant or consultant.
He is wiser now, from his struggles as well as his triumphs.
"I always get a high," he said, "when I walk into the Coliseum."
Of course he does. He's home.
Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc