OPEN MIC: Rangers coach Bryan Trottier

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Jim Kelley

Bryan Trottier has chosen to boldly go where many have gone before ... and failed. He's the newest coach of the New York , a team that is always in a "win now" mode, despite the fact it hasn't made the playoffs since 1997. The pressure is on the first-time coach to win in a city that not only never sleeps, but also never exhibits an ounce of patience, especially with coaches. Trottier, 47, is following a path worn thin by Ron Low, John Tortorella and John Muckler in recent seasons. His head coaching experience is limited to one year with Portland in the AHL, and it was hardly a success. He has, however, been an assistant for four very successful seasons with the Colorado . He was considered a coach on the ice both in Pittsburgh (where he also was an assistant behind the bench for three seasons) and with the New York , where he had a legendary career as a player. Trottier was a player for 18 seasons and earned honors as one of the National Hockey League's all-time great two-way centers. He is currently ranked 12th on the league's all-time scoring list and sixth on the all-time playoff-scoring list. He won six Stanley Cup championships as a player with both the and the Pittsburgh . He was an NHL rookie of the year, an Art Ross Trophy winner as the league's leading scorer and won both the Hart Trophy (league MVP) and the Conn Smythe Trophy (playoff MVP). He was an eight-time NHL All-Star and, in 1997, he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. FOXSports.com caught up with the newest coach of the during a recent road stop. Because of time constraints brought on by travel problems, information obtained during a previous interview at the Hockey Hall of Fame was also used in this file. FOXSports.com: There were a lot of people who thought that maybe Bryan Trottier didn't want to be a head coach, that you were content — and productive — as an assistant. When did you decide to take the next step? Bryan Trottier: It wasn't so much that as waiting for the right opportunity. I told my family (while in Colorado) I was going to give myself a few more years. I said, "If fate doesn't offer me the opportunity to be a head coach, there are lots of other things I can do." But I knew if given the opportunity, I would make the best of it. And here I am. It just happens that my first head coaching job is in New York.
NAME: Bryan Trottier
POSITION: Head coach of the New York
OTHER JOBS: Standout NHL center for the New York and the Pittsburgh , assistant coach of the and the Colorado and head coach of the Portland Pirates of the AHL.
WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW HIM: The poster boy for the ultimate NHL competitor, Trottier won virtually ever NHL honor and has his name on the Stanley Cup seven times, six as a player, once as an assistant coach. What he lacks in coaching experience, he more than makes up for in competitive fire and on-ice experience. Bryan Trottier is one intense individual and he's charged with making over a team that rarely is. It should be like watching fire vs. ice.
FOXSports.com: It also just so happens that it didn't sit well with some people, you being an ex-Islander and all. Does that worry you? Trottier: I understand that, but I was an Islander a long time ago. I've been other places since (Pittsburgh, Colorado, a year as a head coach in the minors). I've done other things. If people want to see me as an Islander, I understand that, but it's (being an Islander) not what I'm all about. FOXSports.com: Is it just the thing or do you sense there's some concern in New York that you aren't a "name" coach? Trottier: I understand how they might see me. I knew the first year was going to be a risk no matter where I went. "Here comes the new coach, what does he have?" I understand their concern about my having a limited history, but I can only do the best I can do and I'm prepared to do that. FOXSports.com: When did you decide you wanted to be a coach? Trottier: I guess it was in my first year in Pittsburgh that I became aware of coaching as something I might like to do. I saw the various roles of a first-line center, second-line center, third-line center. I started to watch the game with a different eye from the bench. In my last year (1993-94) I did a lot of soul searching. Did I want to play? Not really. My back was sore all the time. I had taken a year off, but I came back because I missed being on the ice, most of all. FOXSports.com: Was coaching what you expected? Has it been a hard road? Trottier: I started by asking Craig Patrick (general manager of the Pittsburgh ) about being a playing coach. He loved the idea, and I thought this was an exciting time for me. It was a great opportunity and it was what I wanted to do. He suggested that I learn the ropes in Portland. Craig told me I'd be riding the buses. It wasn't a glamorous life, but I said fine. Eddie Johnstone (also then with Pittsburgh) told me to keep learning (in Portland). You're behind the bench every night. I still learn every day. I love it. FOXSports.com: The likely wouldn't be everyone's first choice as a place to start. Coaches get fired there, a lot. There are players with big-name reputations. How are you approaching this job? Trottier: Every player is unique. You have to find out how each player thinks. Some have to be shown; some have to be told; some have to see; some have to experience. In a way, I've coached my whole life. Players would come to the team and want to know the system. They'd ask me about conditioning, how to train in the off-season. They'd listen to what you said, did what you did, and I led by example. I was coaching all the time. This is a team that wants to win. It has players who want to win. Some of them have, some of them are still learning. It's my job to teach and direct and have everyone working toward the same goal. FOXSports.com: As a player, you were intense, but you weren't known as an open and outspoken guy. As a coach, you may have to be. Have you changed? Trottier: There are some things I've had to concentrate on. Teaching methods, that's one. I was pretty guarded as a player. ... I didn't see myself that way (uncommunicative), but it's important whatever situation arises, that you have communication. You're dealing with people, be they players and media or fans and you don't want to leave a bad taste in their mouths. FOXSports.com: You've had some great coaches during your career. Al Arbor in New York, Scott Bowman in Pittsburgh. You've had success with Bob Hartley in Colorado. Have you learned from these guys? Trottier: I've learned from everyone, my whole career. I've learned from coaches and from other players and a few things on my own. You take it all in and then you decide what works best for you, what you believe works and you go from there. I don't expect to be a coach all my life, but I'm a coach now and this is what I want to do. FOXSports.com: And down the road? Trottier: Who knows? Right now I'm a hockey coach. I probably won't be one 20 years from now, but I'm not thinking about that right now. Right now I'm thinking about what I, and the coaching staff we have here, can do to help the win. That's my job.
Tagged: Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Avalanche

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