Bread and butter. Bryan Trottier
and Mike Bossy
. Two combinations that are perfect together.
In fact, New York Islanders
teammate Garry Howatt
actually nicknamed the two "bread and butter" -- and not only because they were the bread and butter of one of the NHL's greatest dynasties, but because they were almost as inseparable off the ice as they were on it.
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Trottier actually arrived on Long Island in 1975, giving him a two-year head start on Bossy, who was taken late in the first round in 1977. In a masterstroke, Islanders coach Al Arbour
put Bossy, a right wing, on a line with Trottier in the middle and Clark Gillies
on the left. But it was the pairing of Trottier, one of the NHL's most unselfish passers, and Bossy, a sniper supreme, that made the Islanders' attack go.
"It's instinct," Bossy once said while trying to describe his on-ice relationship with Trottier. "There aren't any little signals. The thing between us is the communication we have. We're not afraid to tell each other that we should have done this, or we should have done that. As much as Bryan helps me, I've helped him."
It was a classic case of the whole being more than the sum of the parts. Each was a great player in his own right, but put them together and they were magic.
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The two clicked right away, with Trottier helping Bossy set the rookie record with 53 goals on his way to the Calder Trophy in 1977-78. Trottier led the NHL in scoring in 1978-79 and won the Hart Trophy -- in no small part because Bossy set a record for right wings by scoring 69 goals.
The Islanders won their first of four Stanley Cups a year later, with Trottier winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. Two years later, it was Bossy's turn to go home with the hardware as the Isles made it three straight Cups.
Bossy had 573 goals and 1,126 points in his 10 seasons with the Islanders while playing the vast majority of his games with Trottier. The only thing that could break up one of the greatest scoring tandems in NHL history was injury -- back problems forced Bossy to retire at age 30.
"I think history will remember Trots as a great hockey player," Bossy once said, "and me as a great goal scorer, not a great hockey player. I can't say who's better because we were so different. Any team that needed a strong and determined center who could score and check and win faceoffs would naturally choose him over me. Any team that needed somebody to score goals would choose me over him."
What most teams would really choose is the chance to put them together. They had the kind of teamwork money can't buy.