Originally created 05/27/01

Trottier shares winning stories as Avalanche assistant

DENVER -- Bryan Trottier looked so comfortable on the ice just hours before the opening of his first Stanley Cup finals game as an assistant coach.

His wins as a player can help the Colorado Avalanche now.

Trottier ran drills with the Avalanche on Saturday morning, ahead of Game 1 of the best-of-seven finals against the defending champion New Jersey Devils. He was at ease as he displayed the talent that made him a six-time champion on the ice with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.

"It's fun to have a guy like him around you," second-year forward Alex Tanguay said. "He was such a great player and was such a great winner. I mean, six Stanley Cup rings -- I think you can't say enough about it."

Trottier stayed on the ice until the last player was ready to head back to the dressing room after Saturday's early skate. When he wasn't running plays, Trottier, in his third season as an Avalanche assistant, effortlessly shot pucks into an empty net from in front of the Colorado bench.

"He has the calming effect," said defenseman Rob Blake, who is in the finals for the second time in 12 NHL seasons. "He's been there, he understands it, he understands the emotions, the excitement guys go through. He can calm guys down to a point where we go out and just play."

Tanguay took the opportunity to tap into Trottier's experience, which includes four straight Stanley Cup finals with the Islanders from 1980-83, a loss in the 1984 finals, and two championships in 1991-92 with the Penguins.

"I was talking to Bryan this morning," Tanguay said, "and he said, 'You know, this is what you dream as a kid. This is what it's all about. Make sure you have fun and make sure you work hard at it. You may never have this chance again.'

"We've just got to take care of it and have fun with it."

Trottier spoke to some players in passing about what is in front of them. He makes sure not to smother them.

"You don't want to be aggressive," the 43-year-old Trottier said. "Everybody's very respectful and I'm the same.

"You can't force people to listen to you, you can't force people to talk to you. It's always been 'Is there any kinds of things that I can draw from?' Everybody is different."

Blake is one player who likes to hear Trottier's stories.

"He shares those moments with us in video, in meetings and things, so it's not a thing where you have to go up and ask him," he said. "He understands that he has to share that with us."

The Avalanche have players that have won championships.

Joe Sakic was with the club in 1996 when it beat the Florida Panthers for the cup in the first season after moving to Denver from Quebec. Patrick Roy earned his third NHL title that year.

But newer players are going through this for the first time, and any guidance helps against the playoff-tested Devils.

"Most of the young guys are really good," Trottier said. "They're not looking for anything deep or anything profound, they're looking for something that's creative. That it's fun, it's enjoyable, it's everything it's supposed to be. It's still hockey."

Trottier isn't just trying to help young players.

Ray Bourque is still trying to win a championship after 23 seasons in the league. This is his third trip to the finals; he went twice -- and lost -- with Boston.

"He's got a lot of knowledge, and has experience," Bourque said. "As a player, in all situations really, he was so good. He played in all kinds of situations that he can help you with."

Regarded as one of the best two-way centers in NHL history, Trottier totaled 524 goals and 901 assists in 18 seasons, mostly with the Islanders.

He had 71 goals and 113 assists in 221 playoff games.

"When he gives you advice, you've got to make sure you listen to it," Tanguay said. "He's a guy who's been through it before and he's a guy that knows what it takes."


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