Trudy Deschamps’ hospitality and personality persuaded her friends to view her as the First Lady of Long Island Hockey during her 44-year marriage to Buzz, a former Long Island Ducks star, St. John’s University coach and equipment company executive.
She became a fixture in the hockey community as she accompanied her husband to Stanley Cup playoffs, All-Star Games, trade shows and youth tournaments. Trudy opened their Bay Shore home and pool to people involved in the sport, including Islanders players and their families, even after she was diagnosed with cancer 21 years ago. She died of the disease Sunday at the age of 80.
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“You couldn’t find a better name for her: First Lady of Long Island Hockey. She was that and she always will be,” said Hockey Hall of Famer Bryan Trottier, a friend since the couple invited him over when he was an Islanders rookie in 1975. “She was beautiful to the core and she had a specialness about her that always made you feel like you were part of the family.”
The Long Beach native was a hockey fan who attended Ducks games at Long Island Arena, after Buzz had been promoted to higher minor leagues in the mid-1960s. A few years later, she was a young widow and teacher in the Brentwood School District who brought her three sons to the arena for a hockey school run by Deschamps and fellow Ducks alumni John Brophy, Sam Gregory and Norm Ryder.
Buzz said that when it came to choosing a captain for the camp’s team, “They would send me up to find the one who had the best-looking mother. I came back and I said to Brophy, ‘Oh man, I found a dandy.’ And that was my wife of 44 years.”
She left her teaching job and followed the hockey circuit as Buzz moved up the ranks from sales representative with several stick manufacturers. “Every time I made a phone call, it ended with, ‘Say hello to Trudy,’ ” Deschamps said.
Trudy also raised five children, played tennis with the wives of Islanders players and maintained her energy despite her illness, her husband said, adding: “At Sloan Kettering, they called her The Superstar. She had nine major operations and never frowned.”
Trottier recalled repeatedly phoning to cheer her up only to have his own spirits lifted. “There are people in this world who are just angels,” the Islanders icon said, “and she was one of them.”
She also is survived by a daughter, Darcy of Shirley; sons Brooks of Pascoag, Rhode Island, Eric of Whitestone, Cary of Hampton Bays and Kevin of San Francisco; six grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.
Viewing will be at Mangano Funeral Home, Deer Park, on Wednesday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and Thursday from 2 to 4:30 p.m. and 7 to 9:30 p.m. A private funeral Friday will be followed by interment at Pinelawn Memorial Park.