Bryan Trottier had a profound impact on the New York Islanders, leading the team to four Stanley Cups and becoming the franchise’s all-time leading scorer. On Friday, he returned to Nassau Coliseum to be honored by the team ahead of their game against the Pittsburgh Penguins.
While Trottier is celebrated as one of the greatest Islanders of all time by Long Island fans, he’s known as a teacher and a mentor to some of the core pieces in the Islanders room.
Frans Nielsen was a young center when he came stateside to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers in 2006. That’s where he connected with Trottier, then the Islanders Director of Player Development. Trottier, one of the NHL’s all-time greatest centers, imparted his wisdom on the Danish pivot.
“I have a lot to thank Trots for,” Nielsen said. “He helped me translate from the big rink and helped me on my game the first couple of years here. It was incredible to have such a legend around you every day teaching you.”
Nielsen said the Hall of Famer was always there to talk hockey and pass along advice. Nielsen said the key was that Trottier wanted him to develop his own game.
“He’s one of those guys that every center in this league should talk hockey with,” Nielsen said.
Kyle Okposo also benefited from Trottier’s tutelage as a young player. Okposo met Trottier at his first development camp with the Islanders in 2006 and admired the way the former superstar handled himself.
“He’s been a mentor of mine for a long time,” Okposo said. “Just his demeanor and the way he carried himself, I thought, was extremely professional. I try to emulate that in myself and the way I carry myself.”
Head Coach Jack Capuano shared a similar sentiment with his two players. Capuano was the Assistant Coach for the Sound Tigers in 2006 when Trottier became the Head of Player Development. Capuano said Trottier was a hands-on guy, who regularly traveled to Bridgeport to help both the coach and players.
“It was really good having Trots around when I was down there,” Capuano said. “I’m fortunate because I get to spend some time with the alumni and Bryan was no different. He’s a real classy guy, a great guy with a subtle way about him.”
At his press conference on Friday morning, Trottier scouted today’s Islanders squad from his perspective as an Assistant Coach for the Buffalo Sabres and said he was impressed with many facets of the Islanders game. With the impression he’s left on Nielsen, Okposo and Capuano, there’s definitely a little Trottier in these Islanders.