Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Bryan Trottier Jersey Card

I can be a mean bastard at times. For example, if you ask me about a Dynasty from the 80s, I'll name the Edmonton Oilers; if you find a way to get me to admit the New York Islanders are worth remembering, I'll show lots of love to Mike Bossy, Billy Smith and Denis Potvin; I might take the chance and mention that Clark Gillies and Bob Nystrom may have been good players, but not good enough for Hall Of Fame credentials.

It could be hours before we realize we haven't uttered a single word about Bryan Trottier.

Why is that?

We're talking about a guy who won the Art Ross trophy, the Hart, the Conn Smythe, and who held the rookie scoring record until Peter Stastny obliterated it - and four Stanley Cups - two on Long Island, and two as a role player for the Pittsburgh Penguins, supporting a cast led by Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr, Ron Francis, Tom Barrasso, Ulf Samuelsson and young nobodies who made their way to 100-point seasons just breathing the same air as those guys.

And that just might be it: he was never the go-to guy. With the Islanders, Bossy was counted upon to provide the bulk of the offense (which usually happens when you hold an NHL record like ''most consecutive 50-goal seasons'' with 9, out of 10 years playing). And his 2 Cups in Pittsburgh came during 28- and 29-point seasons, in years when Kevin Stevens accumulated 123 points, a 34-year old Joe Mullen got 87, Mark Recchi got 70 in 58 games, Rick Tocchet got 30 in 19...

He got his name on another Cup conquest in 2001, the year Patrick Roy's Colorado Avalanche beat out Martin Brodeur's New Jersey Devils in the only Game 7 where they have faced each other; Trottier was an assistant coach to Bob Hartley. He also made a very brief head coaching stint for the New York Rangers in 2002-03, going 21-27-6 (for a .454 record) in 54 games, a team that had a roster with such stars/mercenaries as Eric Lindros, Mark Messier, Petr Nedved, Pavel Bure, Bobby Holik, Brian Leetch, Radek Dvorak, Alexei Kovalev, Vladimir Malakhov, Darius Kasparaitis, Anson Carter, Sylvain Lefebvre, Mike Richter, Mike Dunham and Tom Poti.

Oh - and despite having been born in Saskatchewan, he chose to take part in the 1984 Canada Cup as a member of Team USA, trying to find every excuse possible to do so: his wife was American, he held a U.S. passport, his grandmother was part-Chippewa, giving him both Canadian and U.S-citizenship.

Still - he was an important part of perhaps the most forgotten Dynasty in hockey: the Islanders of the early 80s, the link between the late-70s Montréal Canadiens and 80s Oilers, a team whose offense could and would strike down on any team in the league while their defense shut every other offense down, and if shots ever managed to make it through to the goalie, they had the manpower there to shut the door still with Billy Smith.

Sure, they were eventually surpassed by the Oilers in every way possible, but they laid the blueprint down for what the kids from Edmonton had to do to become champions, beating them for the fourth and final Cup of their wonder years.

Seeing the empty seats at Islanders' games these days, though, you have to wonder if it was all for nothing...

This card (#WM-BT in the series) is from Upper Deck's 2006-07 SPX Series, the Winning Materials sub-set, and sports two swatches - one white, one half-red and half-blue, for a total of three different colours, and is in high demand; I've seen a card with two all-white swatches go for over $20 on Ebay, so this one being rarer could net possibly three times as much.

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