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BEHIND THE NUMBER: #19

Islanders legend Bryan Trottier has his number hanging from the rafters. Find out why he picked 19

Thursday, 08.19.2010 / 5:00 PM ET / News
By Dyan LeBourdais
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BEHIND THE NUMBER: #19
He was 18-years-old when he was drafted by the New York Islanders in the second round of the 1974 draft. A talented youngster from Val Marie, Saskatchewan, Bryan Trottier was about to embark on a wild Hall of Fame career that would feature six stanley cups, four with the dynasty Islanders teams. It is no wonder why 30 years after the Islanders first Stanley Cup victory, his legend, leadership and hockey skills are still the talk of Islanders fans.

Having transcended generations of fans, there’s no surprise Trottier’s Islanders sweater number was retired on Oct. 20, 2001. Of the six sweaters that hang from the Coliseum rafters, the story behind Trottier selecting "19" for his jersey may one of the most anti-climactic.

When he came to Training Camp in 1975 and needed to decide what number to wear, Trottier turned down three of the numbers offered to him by then equipment manager Jim Pickard.

“Number 19 was the lowest number of the jerseys was left,” Trottier said. “The other numbers were very high. They were up in the high twenties and thirties. I always thought to myself 19 was right because I was 19-years-old at the time and it just kind of seemed kind of appropriate.”

But his age has more significance than just his sweater number. In his first season with the Islanders, Trottier put up extremely impressive point totals, especially for a player at his age, starting the 1975-76 season. That season he played in 80 regular season games scoring 32 goals and 63 assists for 95 points and 21 penalty minutes.

Consequently, Trottier only realized the number 19 was more appropriate and fitting after the fact because he started to realize all of the talented players with whom he shared his number.

“I tried to think of all the great players who wore number 19, like Paul Henderson who scored the biggest goal in Canadian history to beat the Russians,” Trottier said. “That was kind of cool for me. I was like, ‘yeah, all right! Number 19 has significance for me there.’”

“And you look and you say to yourself, ‘Well, (John) Pie McKenzie of the Boston Bruins wears sweater number 19,’ and I loved the Bruins in the early ‘70s,” Trottier continued. “So just thinking of all the different 19’s like Jean Ratelle and those players that played in the league for a long time that were identified by their numbers. That was very, very cool.”

More than 26 years after choosing sweater number 19 because he was a 19-year-old kid trying to start a career, Trottier became the sixth Islander to see his jersey retired by the Islanders on Oct. 20, 2001.

“Having my number retired was very, very special because it was a big part of my identity here for the last 30 or 40 years,” Trottier said. “On top of that, to share that evening with the Long Island fans was really, really special.”

To see my sweater up there in the rafters, it carries the history of the years that I was here. It represents, hopefully, a real positive legacy for Islanders fans and something generations of Long Island families will be able to share with one another. So it’s pretty special. - Bryan Trottier
“I think for me, those years with the Islanders are such a huge part of my life,” Trottier continued. “To see my sweater up there in the rafters, it carries the history of the years that I was here. It represents, hopefully, a real positive legacy for Islanders fans and something generations of Long Island families will be able to share with one another. So it’s pretty special.”

While he was the last player to have his number retired, having his number retired more than seven years after his departure from the Islanders was very important to Trottier.

“It was a great time in my life to retire my number because my kids were all older and to share it with my children and my family and the fans, it was just a really special, special night. At the time you’re not emotional because you’re really kind of absorbing it, but it took me a little while to get over it because you’re so overwhelmed.”

Since the Islanders inception in 1972, Craig Cameron was the only other player to wear sweater number 19. Cameron joined the team via the 1972 Expansion Draft by way of the Minnesota North Stars. In his three seasons with the Islanders, he played in 187 games, scoring 35 goals and 34 assists for 69 points and 65 penalty minutes.

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