BUFFALO - Bryan Trottier hadn't been behind an NHL bench since the Rangers let him go 54 games into the 2002-03 season, his only stint as a head coach.
But here he is at 58, working as an assistant to Ted Nolan with the Sabres -- and also a couple of weeks from his Jan. 16 honors at Nassau Coliseum.
Trottier and Nolan have known each other for several years, including the two seasons (2006-08) in which Nolan coached the Isles while Trottier was director of player development. So Nolan didn't have much trouble coaxing Trottier out of semi-retirement in Pittsburgh to join the young, inexperienced Sabres.
"It's not just Islander fans [who respect Trottier], he's revered in hockey, period," Nolan said. "Those guys from that [Islanders] era deserve respect right off the bat. They've earned it."
And Trottier has brought his youthful enthusiasm to this gig. "We're building something here," he said. "You want to be a part of it? Grab hold of the rope. We're trying to build good habits."
The Sabres make their last visit to Long Island on April 4 and Trottier has the same mixed feelings as some of his fellow dynasty teammates.
"It's kind of sad in one sense, but it's exciting in that the team is moving to something newer," he said. "You go with the flow. I'm at the age now where you just gotta go with the flow."
Halak, on IR, travels
Jaroslav Halak was with the team here, most likely because of the timing of this quick trip (the Islanders flew up Saturday morning). So Halak was on hand despite being placed on injured reserve retroactive to Dec. 20. That means he's eligible to come off Sunday.