Got a chance to talk this morning with former Penguins center Bryan Trottier, who was hired a few weeks ago as an assistant coach with the Buffalo Sabres.
Trottier is 58. His back and joints limit his golf to four or five charity events a year. Buffalo finished with 52 points a season ago, the fewest in the NHL.
So, why get back into coaching?
“When (head coach Ted Nolan) called this summer, I was kind of excited but also, at the same time, doing some introspection to make sure I wanted to be that involved again,”
Trottier said at the 17th Annual Penguins Alumni Charity Golf Classic at Valley Brook Country Club in McMurray. “He convinced me, and I think he was a good salesman on that.
“He convinced me that I still had something to bring, and the more I thought about it, I talked to my family and thought this might be a fun thing. I’m going to go in both feet for the year and have a great time with the young kids up there in Buffalo. See if we can’t build something fun.”
Trottier should have plenty to keep him busy. The Sabres brought in forwards Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta and Andrei Meszaros amid a flurry of offseason moves.
There’s also a young nucleus with center Tyler Ennis (career-high 21 goals in 2013-14) and defenseman Tyler Myers.
Trottier joins a staff that also includes Arturs Irbe, Danny Flynn and Tom Coolen.
This is the fourth coaching stop for Trottier, who played 18 seasons, is in the Hockey Hall of Fame (Class of 1997) and won the Stanley Cup with the Penguins in 1991 and 1992.
There is, of course, a connection here. Trottier and Nolan were both hired by the New York Islanders in June 2006, Nolan as head coach and Trottier as player development director. The Islanders didn’t renew Trottier’s contract following the 2009-10 season.
Working with players — the same ones over and over, as Trots points out — in a more hands-on role is exciting for Trottier, who might challenge current Penguins goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the Nicest Man Ever award.
“You have 20 familiar faces every day,” said Trottier, who said he will report to Buffalo next week. “In player development, you’re working with the NHL team, the American Hockey League team, college kids, junior kids. You see something different over the course of a month and a season.
“When you’re working with 20 faces for the whole season, you’re really engaged and you can fine-tune with the players what you want to work on. You’re building their confidence, their skill levels and whatever else I can help them with.”
Be GRATEFUL to each other,