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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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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.




1 WSH 51 38 9 4 166 114 80
2 FLA 52 31 15 6 143 115 68
3 NYR 52 29 18 5 148 134 63
4 TBL 51 29 18 4 137 118 62
5 BOS 52 28 18 6 151 137 62
6 DET 52 26 18 8 130 131 60
7 PIT 51 26 18 7 132 130 59
8 NJD 53 26 20 7 119 120 59
9 NYI 50 26 18 6 135 126 58
10 CAR 53 24 21 8 129 141 56
11 PHI 51 23 19 9 121 133 55
12 MTL 53 25 24 4 142 142 54
13 OTT 53 24 23 6 148 165 54
14 BUF 53 21 26 6 120 139 48
15 TOR 51 19 23 9 117 140 47
16 CBJ 54 21 28 5 135 168 47


J. Tavares 47 18 19 -6 37
K. Okposo 48 12 25 -9 37
B. Nelson 50 20 11 0 31
F. Nielsen 50 15 16 -2 31
M. Grabovski 50 9 15 1 24
J. Bailey 49 8 15 4 23
A. Lee 50 7 14 0 21
N. Leddy 50 3 17 -12 20
R. Strome 39 5 13 -8 18
N. Kulemin 50 5 9 6 14
J. Halak 12 11 4 .917 2.28
T. Greiss 13 6 2 .927 2.32
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