Bryan Trottier joins admirer Steve Yzerman in Canada's Sports Hall of Fame

When Steve Yzerman was a teenager in the early 1980s, playing for the Nepean Raiders and then the Peterborough Petes, he had plenty of hockey heroes to choose from.

There was Wayne Gretzky, of course — a former Pete himself, although for just three games in 1976-77. Not to mention Marcel Dionne, Gilbert Perreault, Guy Lafleur and Darryl Sittler.

Instead, Yzerman idolized the two-way play of the determined Bryan Trottier of the New York Islanders.

"As a boy, my idols were hockey players,'' Yzerman said in his Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech seven years ago. "I worshipped them. My room was covered in posters of hockey players from all generations.

"The reason I chose No. 19, and I think the reason a lot of players chose 19, and played the way they did, was because of No. 19 of the New York Islanders, Bryan Trottier. I wore that number in his honour. He was a player I looked up to and admired.''

Trottier was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997, and on Tuesday was rightfully named as part of the 2016 class for Canada's Sports Hall of Fame.

Joining Trottier are:

  • Michael "Pinball" Clemons, a four-time Grey Cup champion with the Toronto Argonauts.
  • Stephanie Dixon, a 19-time Paralympic swimming medallist and world-record holder.
  • Dr. Frank Hayden, an early leader of the Special Olympics movement.
  • Sue Holloway, a four-time Olympian and the first woman to compete in both the Summer and Winter Games in the same year.
  • Colleen Jones, a two-time curling world champion and the youngest skip to ever win a Canadian women's title.
  • Annie Perreault, a three-time Olympian and double gold medallist in short track speed skating.

7 rings

Trottier, who will turn 60 in July, won six Stanley Cups as a player — four in a row with the New York Islanders in the early 1980s and two more with Mario Lemieux and the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1991 and 1992.

Trottier added a seventh Stanley Cup as an assistant coach with the 2000-01 Colorado Avalanche.

He was a tough-as-nails, two-way centre who won the Calder Trophy at 19 in his rookie season 40 years ago and followed that up with an Art Ross Trophy as the NHL's top scorer in 1978-79 as well as the Hart Trophy as the league MVP that season. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP in 1980.

His late Islanders coach Al Arbour once told Trottier, "I can't figure you out."

His net, a barn; his goalie, a dog

But what was there to figure out? The son of Mary and Buzz grew up with two sisters and brother Rocky on the family cattle farm in the tiny village of Val Marie, Sask., near the Montana border.

He forged a strong work ethic with his chores and fell in love with hockey playing on a nearby frozen creek. Trottier loved to spin a yarn about how he worked on his shot, firing rubber pucks at the barn with the family dog, Rowdy, as his goaltender.

There was no doubt about Trottier's passion for hockey. Before he went up the highway to play junior for the Swift Current Broncos he played for three local teams, including a senior team, five nights a week as a 15-year-old.

Trottier's grandmother was a First Nations Cree "from the Dakotas."

His life wasn't all roses. He overcame shyness by playing bass guitar and singing in the family band. He overcame his lack of size in the NHL with his determination.

After his playing days he suffered from depression, went bankrupt, endured a failed first marriage and had a strained relationship with his beloved Islanders.

But Trottier rebounded and worked his way up through the coaching ranks to finally become the head bench boss of the rival New York Rangers in 2002-03. That stint, however, lasted only 54 games.

Nevertheless, he rebounded from that disappointment too and eventually joined the Islanders front office as its executive director of player personnel.

The Canadian Sports Hall of Fame will be the next stop for Trottier, where he will join Yzerman, a 2008 inductee. Maybe they can find a spot for the two No. 19s to be near each other.

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