He was an all-star and Hall of Fame centre who won seven Stanley Cup rings, but Bryan Trottier doesn’t like being the centre of attention.
Growing up in small-town Saskatchewan, the future National Hockey League star was even in the background of his family’s musical band, playing the bass and singing backup vocals.
In fact, he doesn’t even think his bass was plugged in the first time his dad slung the guitar over Trottier’s shoulder, showed him three chords and told him to just play along.
It didn’t matter. He was happy enough having fun just being a part of it all.
He still has a lot of fun with his simple approach to music, but these days Trottier has been thrust a little more to the forefront. With his hockey renown preceding him, he has been one of the big attractions at the annual Hockey Day in Canada events in the last several years.
Trottier will be performing when the four-day event comes to Corner Brook in January. Like he has during previous events, he will be taking to the stage with professional musicians Bidiniband for a live concert Jan. 19.
“The biggest thing Dad taught us about being onstage was, if we’re having fun, then the people in the audience will have fun and, if you’re miserable up there, people will see that, too,” Trottier said during a recent interview.
Trottier was not the person who would pick up a guitar and lead a singsong at a party. He never played in front of his teammates or the players he coached later in his career.
“I had no real reason to do it,” he said. “I was raising kids and being a dad at home and a hockey player the rest of the time.”
There was one exception in the mid-1980s when Trottier hired a group of local musicians in New York and played a club gig.
Mostly, though, playing the guitar was restricted to the little time he had to himself outside of his family duties and his hockey jobs. He fit rehearsing the few country songs he knew in with the bit of time he also dedicated to honing his carpentry skills, another secret passion of his.
For his 40th birthday, Trottier bought himself a new Gibson guitar and vowed to expand his musical talents beyond the three chords he had been playing all his life. Armed with some self-taught bar and minor chords, he opened up a whole new repertoire he could pursue.
Whenever he plays for a crowd, Trottier chooses a set list of songs that most people know and like.
“I think the crowd will enjoy the evening,” he said of the show planned for Corner Brook. “They will get to hear some good old Saskatchewan country music, Bryan Trottier-style or, as my dad used to call it, grasslands country.”
Occasionally, Trottier will play an obscure song. It’s likely one he or someone else in his family wrote as he does delve into writing his own music. While they have mostly been silly songs for his kids, he does have a new one he hopes to debut in Corner Brook.
While in Buffalo recently, Trottier said he was amazed at the popularity of hockey in the city and, in particular, its reverence for the NHL and the great players who have played for the Buffalo Sabres in the past.
The new song is one dedicated to Sabres legend, Gilbert Perreault.
“I can’t give that away,” he said when asked what the title was. “People will have to come out and hear it. We thought of doing it at Hockey Day last year, but it might be the opportunity to do it this year. It will be fun.”
While being the front man for a live show isn’t something Trottier prefers, he said he’s comfortable with it.
“It’s fun that people get to see another side of a hockey guy who has been doing this his whole life, but understands he is not a professional entertainer and who still goes up there and gives it his all,” he said.
“It’s like how I played the game.”