Hockey Hall of Fame - Stanley Cup Journals: 11
The Stanley Cup Journal

Bryan Trottier has a firm grip on the Stanley Cup;
one of the six times as a player that he would win
Lord Stanley's mug. (Paul Bereswill/HHOF)
The Stanley Cup rolled past Grasslands National Park in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan, and came upon a sign that indicated it was in the right spot — 'VAL MARIE, SASKATCHEWAN - HOME OF BRYAN TROTTIER'.

As the Cup was driven through the village, it was easy to visualize how Val Marie might have looked a century ago. Vast expanses of blue sky with fluffy, white clouds that resembled cotton batting met flat, solid earth as far as the eye could see where buffalo once ran free, trying to elude the Plains Indians who valued their carcasses. In the village itself, it was amusing but refreshing to see hitching posts for those that prefer to do their business on horseback.

2005 is the centennial of the province of Saskatchewan. As the newly-built railroad brought settlers to the wide-open spaces of western Canada, the Canadian government saw the wonderful possibilities for this territory. Prime Minister Wilfrid Laurier signed the Saskatchewan Act of 1905, bringing Saskatchewan into the confederation. Incidentally, neighbouring Alberta became a province that same year.

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The triumphant hero returned to the arena in Val Marie, accompanied by three Mounties in scarlet tunics, and was greeted by a full house of excited locals.
(Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Bryan Trottier was born and proudly raised in this community of 164 citizens, and the Stanley Cup spent July 2nd and 3rd with the Honoured Member of the Hockey Hall of Fame as part of Val Marie's centennial celebration. On Saturday, July 2, Lord Stanley's mug arrived at the home of Mary Trottier, mother of Bryan as well as his older sister Carol and younger siblings Kathy, Monty and Rocky. Each of the boys was a terrific hockey player. Monty was a draft pick of the New York Islanders in 1980 and Rocky, like brother Bryan, also made it to the National Hockey League, playing 38 games with the New Jersey Devils in the mid-eighties.

After a visit with his family, Bryan drove the Cup to Frontier, a town forty minutes outside Val Marie. Bryan is an outstanding ambassador for hockey, signing autographs and having his picture taken with the Stanley Cup for over three hours, and talking with hockey fans while making them feel special.

The proud village of Val Marie, home to 164 citizens, recognizes 'local boy made good.' This sign prompted loud laughs between Bryan and Colorado's Joe Sakic. (Mike Bolt/HHOF)
Returning to Val Marie, the village mounted a sizeable centennial celebration, with Bryan and the Stanley Cup front and centre. Cradling the trophy he won as a player six times (four consecutive wins with the New York Islanders between 1980 and 1983 plus back-to-back wins in 1991 and 1992 with the Pittsburgh Penguins), Bryan entered the arena accompanied by three Mounted Police in their traditional crimson tunics.

Although an indoor arena, the rink in Val Marie has natural ice and is home to the Val Marie Mustangs. "When I was growing up, I didn't think about playing in the NHL," admits Bryan. "I wanted one day to be a Mustang!"

Bryan wanted to make certain that Val Marie's day with the Stanley Cup would be memorable and help raise funds in the village. "I remember how I felt when I was a young boy growing up in this area and I want this to be a memorable experience for the fans," Bryan stated emphatically. And it was.

As a bonus for guests at the Val Marie Centennial celebration, Bryan jumped on stage and performed a couple of songs with his sister Kathy and brother Monty. (Paul Bereswill/HHOF)
After photos and autographs with Lord Stanley's trophy, fans were entertained by a great local band. On closer inspection, it was a Trottier family group — Monty and Kathy plus Kathy's son were members of the band. Bryan later got up, strapped on a guitar and contributed a few songs. By 11:30, the Stanley Cup was packed away and taken back to Mary Trottier's home. There is a trailer in the backyard and Bryan slept in one end while his nephew, Josh, slept at the other end. The Stanley Cup spent the night right there in the trailer with them.

Morning broke on the prairie Sunday, July 3 with Bryan's Mom ready with a hearty breakfast of steak and eggs for her family and friends. Afterwards, the Stanley Cup was taken to a local highschool where Monty and Rocky were running a hockey clinic for aspiring hockey stars. The attendees were thrilled to see Bryan arrive with the Stanley Cup.

The Cup was then taken back to the arena in Val Marie and for three hours beginning early that afternoon, Bryan posed for more pictures with the Stanley Cup. The Trottiers are regarded as the local kids who made good, but everyone in the area is especially proud of Bryan's remarkable accomplishments. He not only earned six Stanley Cup championships as a player, but another as an assistant coach with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001. A few years back, Avalanche captain Joe Sakic was driving from Denver to Swift Current with his wife Debbie and oldest child Mitchell when they passed Val Marie. Joe slammed on the brakes when he saw the sign that read 'VAL MARIE, SASKATCHEWAN - HOME OF BRYAN TROTTIER' and insisted that Debbie take his picture in front of the sign. Later that fall, Sakic dropped the photo on Trottier's desk and the two laughed like schoolboys.

Bryan entered the Hockey Hall of Fame with 524 goals and 901 assists for 1,425 points in 1,279 regular season NHL contests. He also collected 277 points in 221 playoff games.
(Dave Sandford/HHOF)
Bryan decided he wanted to reminisce about his childhood and drove the Stanley Cup to his old ranch, in the plains about six miles from the Montana border. "Our cattle used to wander across the border into the U.S. all the time," he laughed. Now owned by the government, there is a river running right past the house. "The beavers would build a dam on that river every year," Bryan recalled. "My Dad, God rest his soul, would chop up the dam in the winter so we could flood the plain for a rink." The area is so beautiful and holds so many wonderful memories that Bryan's Dad insisted his ashes be spread on a landmark hill overlooking the ranch.

It wasn't long afterwards that the sun set on Val Marie, Saskatchewan and the Stanley Cup was bundled up and driven to Winnipeg for its next alumni adventure, and you'll read about Pete Langelle, Bill Juzda and Ab McDonald in the next installation of Stanley Cup Journal. Meet you back here Friday!

Kevin Shea is the Hockey Hall of Fame's Manager of Publishing and Editorial Services.
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