Bryan Trottier looks forward to Scotiabank Hockey Day in Canada each season not only because it celebrates the impact hockey has throughout his native country, but also for the music.
Trottier, a 1997 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame who won the Stanley Cup six times as a player with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins and once as an assistant with the Colorado Avalanche, has been playing guitar and singing since he was a teenager in the family band with his father, Buzz, and his brothers and sisters. The 64-year-old has become a part of the musical tradition at Hockey Day in Canada, which will be held this season in Yellowknife, the capital city of Canada's Northwest Territories.
The four-day festival kicks off with a Music of Hockey Day event on Wednesday. Trottier will join a lineup of Canadian performers such as Bidiniband, Digawolf, the Yellowknives Dene Drummers and Karen Novak.
"Music brings people together," Trottier said while in St. Louis for the 2020 Honda NHL All-Star Game last month. "I get to talk about my musical history with my dad growing up in the family band and singing harmonies and my sister -- my sister is a singer and a guitarist -- and her family and how we've taken it to another level with our little family. I'm up there performing with the people and feeling like a musician for a night, but you have to know your limitations."
Trottier, who calls himself "an OK singer", performed a song he wrote for the occasion at his daughter Taylor's wedding in September. He said he mostly performs country music from artists such as Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, Buck Owens, George Strait, Willie Nelson and Alan Jackson.
"We bring a little awareness and our own style to a lot of different musicians out there," Trottier said. "It's really an opportunity for people to see another side of me as well, not just hockey. I love music. We have great fun."
Of course, hockey is a big part of the fun and there will be plenty of that Saturday with Sportsnet's coverage of four games beginning with the Ottawa Senators against the Winnipeg Jets at Bell MTS Place (2 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SN, TVAS, NHL.TV). The schedule also includes the Nashville Predators at the Edmonton Oilers (7 p.m. ET; SN360, CITY, SNW, FS-TN, NHL.TV), the Toronto Maple Leafs visiting the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, SN1, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NHL.TV) and the Calgary Flames facing the Vancouver Canucks at Rogers Arena (10 p.m. ET; CBC, SN, SN360, SN1, CITY, NHL.TV).
Trottier, a native of Val Marie, Saskatchewan, enjoys seeing cities such as Yellowknife having a chance to be in the spotlight. That the Yellowknives Dene First Nation will be part of the festivities will also be special for Trottier because his father is of Cree Metis descent.
"Hockey Day in Canada is really fun," Trottier said. "This is going to be my sixth or seventh. It's really an opportunity for that community to shine and strut their stuff for all of Canada. Going back last year to my little backyard of Swift Current, Saskatchewan was extra fun. That little city got to strut your stuff all over the country."
Trottier will also be part of an excursion with the Stanley Cup to Deline, an aboriginal community in the middle of the Northwest Territory about 330 miles from Yellowknife. Deline was the site of the one of the first recorded ice hockey games in North America in 1825.
"They actually have a little bit of a claim as the birthplace of hockey, so it will be really fun," Trottier said. "That's going to be really exciting. A very small community, but a very proud little community. They love their history, they love their culture and they get to express that joy and that celebration of just the fact that hockey is recognized in every square inch of Canada."