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Trottier: A winner among winners

Ex-NHL star visits PNG

Photo for the Mirror by Rob Lynn Former NHL star Bryan Trottier is interviewed by Mike Kessling, Curve director of marketing.

Before former Pittsburgh Penguin center Bryan Trottier made his way to the Steel City, he was part of The Trio Grande with the New York Islanders.

The trio went on to achieve unprecedented success on Long Island as they won four straight Stanley Cups from 1980-1983.

Thursday night, Trottier met with local hockey fans at Peoples Natural Gas Field to sign autographs and take pictures with fans during the Curve’s originally scheduled game that ended up getting postponed due to rain.

Trottier was the 22nd pick in the 1974 NHL Draft and helped form the famous line with the late Clark Gillies and the late Mike Bossy.

“The chemistry was pretty special,” Trottier said. “Clark Gillies was probably the premier power forward of his generation. There was nobody like him. Now there’s lots of players that try to emulate the Clark Gillies-style of hockey.”

Trottier went on to call Bossy “The purest of goal scorers.”

The Islanders are the last team to three-peat in NHL history.

“It’s hard to win back-to-back. It’s hard to win three, it’s hard to win four, become that dynasty aspect of it,” he said. “We had really good coaching, and we were healthy. We had a great training staff, we were the early group who did off ice training.

“We had guys who were disciplined, we had a crew of guys who felt they had a role to play, and they felt appreciated.”

Trottier went on to win the Calder (1976), Art Ross and Hart (1979), Conn Smythe (1980) and King Clancy (1989) trophies. He scored 524 goals and had 901 assists and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

He came to Pittsburgh, and the conversation with the then Penguins general manager resulted in a pretty quick offer.

“When I talked to Craig Patrick he even asked me ‘Why do you want to come Pittsburgh?’ I said, ‘because I want to win a cup with Mario Lemieux,”’ Trottier said. “(Patrick) said, ‘I’ll have a contract to you in 15 minutes.'”

Patrick noted he wanted to bring in Trottier because of his winning experience along with guys like Paul Coffey and Joe Mullen, who had won the Stanley Cup elsewhere.

Trottier enjoyed having the chance to share his wisdom from his first four Cup runs in New York.

“It was really fun to be able to walk into that locker room and everybody’s excited to see an old guy like me walk into that room, and lean on me,” he said.

That first Penguins team that won the Stanley Cup started each series losing game 1, including losing the first two games of the Prince of Wales Conference Final.

“When you’re riding the wave, you ride as high as you can,” Trottier said. “All of a sudden, the wave goes away and the other team finds a way. That’s what makes competition fun. Stealing that wave and stealing the momentum and taking the wind out of their sails.”

It was clear they took the wind out of the Minnesota North Stars sails in 1991 as they were up 6-0 going into the third period of game 6 before capturing the Cup with an 8-0 win.

If there’s one thing he has taken from his first coach in Pittsburgh, “Badger” Bob Johnson, it’s that’s you can always look on the bright side. Even following bad losses.

“There’s just no bad days,” he said. “Always take home a positive and come to the rink the next day and bring your best energy. I love that about Bob.”

Trottier didn’t have to wait long to win his sixth cup as the Penguins went back-to-back, sweeping the Blackhawks in 1992. The celebration, though, was quite memorable when they took it to Three Rivers Stadium.

During a rain delay one night, Patrick had suggested that the team take the Stanley Cup around to keep fans engaged until the weather cleared. Trottier later ended up sliding on the rain tarp.

“I trot off the stand, I look back and all the guys are just waving at me. None of them came, and I’m like you creeps, you left me all by my lonesome here.

“I took a big run, and I probably went like 6 or 7 feet, and now I’m infamous because people call it the ‘Grand Slide of Stanley Cup.’ It was just a spontaneous thing that happened, and people loved it.”

Trottier believes the current Penguins core of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang hasn’t taken for granted the chance the three have to play together as they now move toward the final years of their storied careers.

“All three of them really enjoy the unique chemistry they have, and they love playing in front of the crowd in Pittsburgh, and they love Pittsburgh,” he said. “Pittsburgh loves them back. There’s this whole dynamic that makes it unique. They’re a very special group — great players, but really good people, and I think that shows.”

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