Trottier primes the hockey pump
For Bryan Trottier, head coach of the New York Rangers and NHL Hall of Famer, Wednesday was another day at the office.
Only he wasn’t in New York. He was at South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena, where the seven-time winner of Lord Stanley’s Cup has been hosting Lake Tahoe Kids Hockey School, a weeklong camp geared at priming the hockey pump in Tahoe and putting South Lake Tahoe Ice Arena on the map.
“My main goal is to get hockey going in this town,” said Trottier, 44, who won four Stanley Cups for the New York Islanders, two with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and one as a coach with the Colorado Avalanche in 2001.
“They’ve been real understanding and real quick to learn. I think the energy and spirit of the camp has been wonderful,” he said.
Trottier, who played 18 years in the NHL and was considered one of the best two-way centers in the game, is teaching the camp with his son Bryan Jr., who has been helping his father host camps for the past 12 years.
Paul Fixter, who was a video instructor for six years with the Av’s and is now an assistant coach for their club team — is also joining the camp.
“All we’re trying to do is help them develop at a little quicker pace in a matter of a week,” Trottier said. “Hopefully, some of it will stick, so that come the hockey season they’ll have one step, maybe two steps, maybe three steps up on some of the other kids that haven’t played during the summer.”
The camp began Monday with ice time daily from 9-11 a.m. and from 1-3 p.m.
In addition to hockey, the 26 players who arrived from as far away as New England, enjoy sight-seeing expeditions courtesy of Mark Heidt and Kids Camp, the organization that partnered with Trotter to form LTKHS.
On Monday, Trottier and Heidt took the players to the beach; on Tuesday they went bowling; and on Wednesday they swam in the Recreation Center pool.
The players change and break for dinner at 5 p.m., then meet with Trottier for “chalk talk” at 6 p.m.
When South Lake Tahoe resident Payton Guttry gets home, he’s still fired up. But when he stops moving, he’s out, said Dave Guttry, whose 9-year-old son participates in the school.
Guttry said his son is one of several South Shore residents who joined the camp, which costs $675 per player.
“I was watching today and (Payton’s) stick handling has gotten so much better,” Guttry said. “Bryan is awesome and he’s real good with the kids.”
Trottier said he has been very impressed with the players’ athletic ability. Many are young and new to hockey and, to be fair, won’t even scratch the surface of Trottier’s wealth of knowledge and experience.
But Trottier, who has three children, is excited about the prospect of molding a hockey program in Tahoe, a place he would like to visit again in the future.
Whether the players join the NHL or finish a hockey career in high school, Trottier said the most important part is passing on the knowledge and enjoyment of the game, a passion he shares with his son.
“Overall, I don’t think Tahoe is any different from any other part of the country: You know, when you’re starting a hockey program, you want to bring as much to the table as quick as you possibly can, so that your kids aren’t that far behind the rest of the pack. Overall, I’d say the skill level and the fundamental level of the kids here, they’re not that far behind. They’re good athletes and they grasp the game.”