Bryan Trottier looks back on his journey as a boy from small-town Saskatchewan to seven-time NHL champion
The stream24:09Bryan Trottier on being one of the NHL’s elite Indigenous players
When a young Bryan Trottier saw the legendary Jean Beliveau lift the Stanley Cup after one of his 10 championship wins with the Montreal Canadiens, he knew what he wanted to do with his life.
« I was sitting on a little blanket, and I looked at dad and I said, ‘Dad, I want to lift the Stanley Cup like Jean Béliveau,' » he said. The streamis Matt Galloway.
« All he said was, ‘Well, you better start training.' »
Suffice it to say, Trottier practiced – a lot.
Over an 18-season NHL career, the youngster from Val Marie, Sask., became one of the league’s best center players.
Trottier won six Stanley Cups as a player, including four consecutive championships with the New York Islanders between 1980 and 1983, and a seventh as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
But don’t expect him to brag about his accolades.
« I lost more than I won, » he said. « But the win just replaces all the losses. »
Trottier retired almost 30 years ago. But the 66-year-old still has plenty of stories to tell.
In his new book, All Roads Home: a life on and off the iceTrottier explores the moments that shaped his hockey career and what it was like to be one of the sport’s elite Indigenous players.
« All roads lead me home because that’s where my roots are, » he said. « It taught me everything about life, everything good, everything proud. »
« Where I come from is what I have today, and hockey has been my vehicle. »
Pride of talent
Trottier’s mother was Irish and his father was a Cree Chippewa.
He loved both sides of his family and said he never felt like an « outcast » within his parents’ communities.
« I felt extremely welcomed because I think both parents were kind of respected in their communities, » he said. « So I didn’t feel any discrimination to that degree. »
But growing up in the 1950s and 1960s, Trottier still saw and heard others say “awful and unpleasant things” about Indigenous people.
Even the hockey rink was unsafe, he learned. At a tournament in Weyburn, Saskatchewan, a young Trottier watched the crowd root against an all-Indigenous team.
« [I said,] « Mom, why are these people saying all these weird things? » he recalls. « It was a big, big taste. »
Trottier said his parents taught him and his three siblings that people made fun of them because they were jealous of their talents.
« We’re also taught from an early age…just let it roll over your back because everyone has some kind of…ethnic background – and there’s nasty stigmas about everyone, so don’t get mixed up of this bric-a-brac, » he said.
WATCH: NHL Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier talks about growing up with Indigenous roots
He wants the Aboriginal stars of tomorrow to be proud of their heritage, just as his family taught him to be proud of his.
« There is so much talent in the First Nations [communities] – I’m so proud of it,” he said. “So be proud and use it as your vehicle.
Teamwork and acceptance
Trottier said former NHL players are « very proud » to be ambassadors for the sport. That’s why he hopes special attention will be given to stories like the recent Hockey Canada scandal.
« I’m still in Pittsburgh, so we don’t get as much [news] on that to make a really good comment,” he said. “But something to do with sexual abuse? Absolutely not. It’s just tragic. »
Hockey in Canada was rocked earlier this year with revelations of an alleged gang sexual assault in 2018 involving members of Canada’s team for this year’s World Junior Championships – and the way Hockey Canada handled it. affair.
Since then, major sponsors have withdrawn their funding from Hockey Canada. The organization announced that its CEO and the entire board would step down.
But Trottier, who represented Canada at the 1975 World Junior Championship and the 1981 Canada Cup, said the positives of hockey stand out more than the negatives.
« Hockey culture, to some extent, is about teamwork. It’s about acceptance, » he said. « It’s about working together, being reliable, responsible, all those things that have to do with desire and dedication. »
« Those are the things that I think stand out more about hockey than the negatives. »
Produced by Howard Goldenthal.