Wednesday marked 40 years since the New York Islanders won their fourth consecutive Stanley Cup with a 4-2 win over the favored Edmonton Oilers to complete an unlikely and unexpected sweep against the NHL's highest-scoring team, one many expected was ready to dethrone the Islanders.
During the post-game on SportsChannel, center Bryan Trottier sat down with hockey historian Stan Fischler and was asked how winning his fourth Stanley Cup compared with the others. “I was caught up in a series where I couldn’t control my emotions,” said the future Hall-of-Famer. “I couldn't eat, couldn’t sleep, couldn’t relax. Felt like crying sometimes …it’s terrible, but it’s an enjoyable type of terrible because it’s a type of pressure and emotion that you thrive on.”
A clip of that interview was shared on Twitter and showed how emotionally exhausted Trottier was after another long playoff run culminating in a championship. The honesty in his response and how he articulated his feelings struck those that watched as what it takes to be, as Fischler says at the end of the interview, 'greatness personified.'
Former Isles beat writer for Newsday, Alan Hahn, who now is a basketball analyst for MSG Networks, and their Knicks coverage saw a clear comparison to another star athlete that personified greatness - Kobe Bryant.
"This is amazing. This is Mamba Mentality before Kobe was even five years old. The pursuit of winning consumes the greatest of champions. Bryan Trottier is one of the greatest of champions."- Alan Hahn via Twitter
Bryant defined Mamba Mentality as being able to constantly try to be the best version of yourself. In his book on his mantra, he wrote about dealing with the type of pressure that Trottier described in the interview. “I never felt outside pressure, wrote Bryant. "I knew what I wanted to accomplish, and I knew how much work it took to achieve those goals. I then put in the work and trusted in it. Besides, the expectations I placed on myself were higher than what anyone expected from me.”
In an interview with Elliotte Friedman on the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Trottier was asked to tell a story from his autobiography "All Roads Home" about a life lesson he learned from his Dad.
"Hey Dad, how come I always want something?," an eight-year old Trottier asked his father.
"Because when you stop wanting you die!," his dad responded.
"It was a powerful moment for me as a kid because it wasn't bad to always want something, said Trottier. "It's good to want. You win one Stanley Cup; you want another, you want another one, you're never satisfied."
Trottier had an unmatched desire to want to win, want to contribute, and want to do whatever it took to become a champion, stay a champion, and become a champion again.
It was the Trots' Mentality before it was Mamba.