Every wide-eyed youngster has heroes. They can be fictional characters like the X-men, movie stars like Vin Diesel or The Rock. In the vast majority of cases, though, athletes fill that role for children. As it turns out, that’s even the case for kids who grow up to be star players themselves. Yes, even heroes have heroes.
Growing up in Nepean, Ont. Steve Yzerman loved the game of hockey.
“As a boy, my idols were hockey players,” Yzerman said in his Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech. “I worshipped them. My room was covered in posters of hockey players from all generations.”
One player, though, stood out above all others.
“Bryan Trottier was my favorite player,” Yzerman said of the former New York Islanders Hall of Fame center.
“The reason I chose No. 19, and I think the reason a lot of players chose 19, and played the way they did, was because of No. 19 of the New York Islanders, Bryan Trottier. I wore that number in his honour. He was a player I looked up to and admired.
“As soon as he came into the league, I followed his entire career. In some ways, I tried to play like him. We all have role models and he’s mine.
“In my mind, he’s one of the best players ever.”
The similarities between the two men are stark, and beyond the number both wore on their backs. Trottier won four Stanley Cups as the No. 1 center with the New York Islanders. Yzerman won three Stanley Cups as the No. 1 center for the Detroit Red Wings.
Trottier and Yzerman were leaders and determined competitors known for playing the game covering all 200 feet of the sheet of ice.
“They were both strong physically and both played their best in the playoffs,” Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman said.
“Steve had a little more acceleration, but Trottier was probably as good a one-on-one defensive player as I’ve ever seen.
“Trottier played effectively until he was 37-38 and Steve did the same.”