Bryan Trottier’s last coaching tenure in the NHL, as a Buffalo Sabres assistant, ended in 2015 and the Islanders’ Hall of Famer wasn’t necessarily looking to get back behind the bench.
Until Craig Patrick, his former general manager with the Pittsburgh Penguins, helped convince him otherwise.
So, on Wednesday, Trottier was announced as one of the eight coaches for 3ICE, a new, three-on-three league planning to make its debut in June, 2021. Patrick, the league’s commissioner, contacted Trottier in January after league CEO E.J. Johnston, the son of former Penguins’ executive and coach Ed Johnston, first contacted Trottier late last summer.
“Craig said, ‘Bryan, I think this will be a fun thing to do for a year,’ ” Trottier told Newsday after the announcement. “ ‘See if you like it. If you don’t like it, at least you tried it.’ ”
Trottier, who won four Stanley Cups with the Islanders, two more with the Penguins and was an assistant coach for the Colorado Avalanche in 2001 when they lifted the Cup, will coach one of 3ICE’s eight teams. Each which will consist of six skaters and one goalie and there are no assistant coaches.
Fellow Hall of Famers Guy Carbonneau, Grant Fuhr, John LeClair, Joe Mullen, Larry Murphy, Angela Ruggiero and Ed Johnston will also serve as coaches.
“I think it’s an opportunity for all of us to stay in the game,” said Trottier, who had a 54-game stint behind the Rangers’ bench in 2002-03 in his only tenure as an NHL head coach. “I really enjoy being part of something that’s innovative and, at the same time, work with young players. We’re high-energy coaches.
“I think it will be action-packed, very few whistles,” Trottier added. “We’re going to try and keep the action moving because there’s going to be a few games every night.”
Trottier listed, among the rules differences, play will continue when the puck hits the netting above the glass behind the net and the goalies will pass pucks to teammates in the corners rather than holding on to stop play.
Trottier said the league expects to have broadcast partners in both the U.S. and Canada and the games will also be streamed online.
“There’s going to be adjustments,” Trottier said. “They’re all going to have a little say in how we can make this compact for television, as well.”
Trottier said the coaches have been exchanging ideas via Zoom meetings.
The initial rosters won’t be assigned until February and Trottier said there will be a supplemental draft after the established leagues – the NHL, AHL, ECHL – finish their seasons.
“We’re going to try and get the highest talent we can,” Trottier said. “I think it’s an opportunity for some NHL guys at the end of their career, AHL guys, high-skill guys that want to play. It’s an opportunity to showcase their skills and maybe get one more look.”
Of course, the NHL and the other league’s may have the starts of their 2020-21 seasons delayed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Trottier said 3ICE is hoping to be able to have fans at its games by next summer.
“Our group is extremely optimistic,” Trottier said. “I think we recognize there’s going to be additional areas of caution and responsibility.”
Trottier said he is also excited that Ruggiero, a four-time Olympic medalist for Team USA, will be one of the coaches.
“She brings a lot to the table,” Trottier said. “She’s got a lot of unique ideas. She’s going to be a terrific asset for our game, especially this three-on-three concept. She’s always developing and building. She’s a dynamic person, let alone a hockey player.”
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