Bryan Trottier has a few words of advice for his younger self. The NHL star player turned coach recently penned a letter to a 10-year-old Bryan for the online publication Players’ Tribune.
Trottier is of Cree/Chippewa descent and is one of the greatest hockey players to come out of Saskatchewan. He spent 18 years in the NHL and won the Stanley Cup six times — four times with the New York Islanders and twice with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Trottier had to grow a thick skin and deal with name calling as a kid, but his parents taught him to be proud of his heritage and helped him develop confidence. He learned that when something feels impossible — like making it in the NHL — it’s not always impossible if you persevere and work hard.
“This is going to sound too unbelievable to wrap your head around, but it’s true. Whatever you do, hang in there,” he wrote.
“It’s a lesson for life, Bryan,” he noted, after sharing a story of when he first stepped onto the ice for the New York Islanders training camp in 1975 and didn’t score a single goal the whole time. They kept him around though, because he didn’t miss a single body check and was able to prove himself NHL-worthy.
“It’s never going to be pretty. It’s never going to happen the way you plan it,” he wrote. “Sometimes you just have to go out to the beaver dam with a machete and start chopping wood.”
Trottier has won many awards throughout his caree and was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1997. He won a National Aboriginal Achievement Award for sports in 1998.
Trottier was interviewed for Windspeaker and talked about the pride he has in his Indigenous heritage. A lot of that came from lessons taught by his Irish mom and Cree/Chippewa dad.
"I'd come home crying because the kids had called me half-breed and she'd say: 'Well, you are a half-breed, be proud of it, it's nothing to be ashamed of.' I'm sure she always felt a certain amount of discrimination towards her because she married an Indian, but she always made me feel proud of my Indian heritage," Trottier said of his mother.
"As kids, dad always told us: 'The fact you're of Indian heritage means there's a lot of gifts within you already. It's in our people,'" he added.
"I thought to myself: 'Wow, I'm ahead of everybody else! I was born with this.' "
Check out Trottier’s full piece in the Players’ Tribune here.