NHL legend Bryan Trottier reflects on family and Indigenous roots in new memoir ‘All Roads Home’

Bryan Trottier is the most decorated Indigenous professional athlete in history: the winner of seven Stanley Cups — six of those as a player — a nine-time NHL All-Star, who also counts the Calder, the Art Ross, the Hart, the Conn Smythe, and the King Clancy Memorial trophies among his accolades. Now, he is committing that remarkable story to paper in All Roads Home: A Life on and off the Ice.

Born in 1956 in the tiny town of Val Marie, Saskatchewan to a Cree/Chippewa/Metis father and an Irish Canadian mother, Trottier has never forgotten who he is or where he came from, hence the name of the book, All Roads Home.

“When I was in New York, Pittsburgh, Denver, it didn’t matter where I lived, I couldn’t wait to call home, couldn’t wait to get back home, always had that homesick feeling. I liked that. I liked that feeling, all roads home, because it’s where I come from, it’s what I represent, and who I am,” he says.

Trottier is also proud of his roots and for being an inspiration to First Nations youth.

“I really enjoy getting into the native communities and talking to First Nations kids and student-athletes,” he says. “Hockey is a wonderful vehicle, I think, to be able to inspire kids to achieve. I take it with great pride and the reaction is usually very positive.”

He also remembers the Indigenous players he admired growing up.

“My dad was a big Toronto Maple Leafs fan, so George Armstrong was a big hero in our house. And, obviously, I knew Jimmy Nielsen with the Rangers and Dad talked a lot about Freddy Sasakamoose and how he’d never seen a guy skate so fast.”

“Dad had a wonderful pride about our native blood and kind of instilled that in all of us.”

Trottier first found fame as a member of the legendary New York Islanders team that won four Stanley Cups between 1980 and 1983. Fans of the Vancouver Canucks may remember them best for defeating the home squad at the Pacific Coliseum during that storied 1982 cup run.

“They were a formidable foe,” he admits. “They were aggressive. They were scrappy. They probably took a little too many penalties. Our power play was red hot.”

“For us, it was our third Stanley Cup, the only one that we won on the road. I didn’t like playing against my buddy Tiger Williams. That was really tough. But I didn’t want to lose because we loved that feeling of being a champion. It was just our time. That’s about the only thing I could say.”


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Trottier would win one more cup with the Islanders the following year against the Edmonton Oilers and two more championships with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“It was eight years between winning my last cup in New York and the first cup in Pittsburgh,” he recalls. “[Being a Penguin] was a new identity for me, but I was on a mission to win one with Mario [Lemieux] and we accomplished that.”

Trottier’s seventh and most recent Stanley Cup came in 2001 as a member of the Colorado Avalanche where he was an assistant coach. He admits winning while behind the bench was a different feeling than being on the ice.

“Absolutely,” he says. “I didn’t sweat. I didn’t bleed. I didn’t come out bruised and beaten.”

“I knew how hard it was to win as a player and I knew the price they paid. The appreciation factor was so high when I got to raise that cup wearing a suit and a tie. I was looking for my family. I couldn’t wait to call home and share this experience all over again because it’s a special, special feeling.”

Trottier thinks many readers will connect with his story.

“I think a lot of people will relate because hockey is a big part of our Canadian fabric,” he says. “But I think you can relate to the small town, you can relate to the family, you can relate to music, you can relate to [feeling] homesick, relate to being shy, to wanting to win the Stanley Cup.”

“You know, it’s like a small-town kid’s dream come true.”

 All Roads Home: A Life On and Off the Ice by Bryan Trottier with Stephen Brunt is published by McClelland and Stewart.

 Bryan Trottier will be appearing at the central branch of the Vancouver Public Library on Tuesday, Nov. 8th for a book signing event.

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