Bryan Trottier, Hockey Hall of Fame legend, grew up playing hockey on a rink that was created by hacking a hole in a beaver dam.
Trottier’s father descended from the Cree on his grandpa’s side and Chippewa from his grandma’s side.
“Every winter Dad would plug the river, we had a creek that went by our house called Frenchmans Creek, “Trottier said. “There was a beaver dam at the bottom and every winter Dad would chop that dam open and make a rink.”
Trottier grew up in a remote community called Val Marie, Sask. and says his father’s ingenuity always provided fresh ice in the morning.
“I thought every Canadian grew up like this,” Trottier said. “I grew up playing hockey with a twig on a beaver dam with dead cows frozen into the ice. That’s the way I learned”
Trottier says the cows were a great obstacle to deke around and helped him sharpen his hockey skills.
“I don’t embellish but that’s just the way it is growing up in remote Canada,” Trottier said. “The freezing cold, you’re playing a game you love to play, my buddies and I would joke about making the NHL one day and you know I was fortunate enough to make it happen.”
Trottier played 18 seasons in the NHL for the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, and also spent time in Colorado as an assistant coach with the Avalanche. In 1981–82 with the Islanders, Trottier scored 50 goals, the highest single-season total of his career.
“We had won back-to-back Stanley Cups so our team was riding pretty high, we were on a roll and our powerplay was red hot,” Trottier said. “We had this kid named Mike Bossy who was a scoring phenom.”
Trottier says it just happened that pucks were going in the net that year and the support he received from teammates really made scoring 50 goals a reality.
“Mike was always pushing me and I was pushing him so we were motivating each other to contribute offensively,” Trottier said.
Trottier played most of the time that season with Clark Gillies on the left side and Denis Potvin on the point. Trottier already had 46 goals with 15 games left in the 1981–82 season and, “Sure enough that magic moment came and I scored 50 goals,” Trottier said.
“Although nobody ever says there goes Bryan Trottier that 50 goal scorer,” Trottier joked.
During Trottier’s time in the NHL, he won six Stanley Cups and has a special treat for fans who run into him during Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada here in Yellowknife this week.
“I had to bring my Stanley Cup rings to the North,” Trottier said. “If you see me around just tap me on the shoulder and I’ll pull the rings out and share some wonderful memories with everybody.”
Trottier will head to Délįne, the claimed birthplace of hockey, with the Stanley Cup on February 5th.