Bryan Trottier likes to draw and sketch. He’ll doodle and play around with colors, and his grandkids like his artwork. The Hockey Hall of Famer has also been art: Famed artist LeRoy Neiman, for example, captured his rookie season with the Islanders in an oil painting. Now, in 2021, Trottier is once again the subject — but not in the traditional sense.
Trottier collaborated with Flux88 Studios and digital artist Kevin Briones to create three pieces of artwork for the Official Bryan Trottier Moments NFT collection.
“It’s fresh. It’s fun. The fact that it’s something new to the collectible world and the hockey world, I think it’s always kind of fun to be on the edge of something fresh and new. For me, it’s been a real good experience,” Trottier told Sporting News from his home in Pittsburgh in a recent phone interview.
“Fresh” and “fun” definitely describe non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the newest craze to hit the art world. But there’s a twist to this latest medium; Instead of having, say, a physical painting with brushstrokes you can feel with your fingertips, it’s art all on your screen. The digital works are on the blockchain (Bitski and OpenSea, specifically in this case) and limited quantities are still available. Once you do make a purchase, you can resell or trade it on the secondary market.
The three pieces designed for Trottier’s collection all mark milestones from his Islanders career: his NHL record six-point period from Dec. 23, 1978, against the rival Rangers (1 of 1); his first Stanley Cup with New York in 1980 (5 of 5); and “Four in a Row,” which highlights the Islanders championship dynasty from 1980-83 (1 of 100).
“My job was basically, just pluck some of the special moments out of my career that were maybe a little magical, extremely memorable and have a fun story behind them,” noted Trottier. The first two pieces mentioned come with audio recordings and a meet-and-greet or real-world experience with Trottier (e.g., playing golf or watching a game).
“For me, it was an opportunity to share, and I love sharing now. I love to share with sports fans, hockey fans, Bryan Trottier fans, whatever fan you are, a little bit of story, a little bit of an experience that happened in my career. So that was my involvement. Hit the record button and bingo-bango, they did some art, and ping they set it up and so now people are bidding on it.”
The “bingo-bango” part was the work of Briones, an illustrator and motion designer based in Toronto.
“I think the biggest challenge for me was to be able to capture his likeness,” Briones told Sporting News. “I had to just look at a bunch of different photos to kind of get the nuances of this caricature. And then, from there, it’s trying to find that perfect image that helps encapsulate that moment.”
The NFTs were designed to look like hockey cards. (Remember: you can trade these). Briones created them on his iPad in Procreate and then animated them through Adobe After Effects. The “Four in a Row” NFT, for example, animates with the likeness of Trottier as the years animate down the front — then flips to the back of the “card” with information and stats.
Trottier played in the NHL for 18 seasons, including 15 on Long Island and three in Pittsburgh. The 1976 Calder Trophy winner would go on to notch 1,425 points (524 goals, 901 assists) in 1,279 career games. He also skated away with a bunch of hardware, including the 1979 Hart and Art Ross Trophies, the 1980 Conn Smythe Trophy and seven Stanley Cups (four with the Islanders, two with the Penguins and one as an assistant coach with Colorado).
The NFTs are special moments in Trottier’s elite career, and will certainly evoke fans’ memories of the game from any generation. He hopes that — much like the art he dabbles in or hockey cards he grabs for his grandkids — they’ll become treasured pieces of art.
“I think if you’re a hockey fan, I think if you’re a sports fan, I don’t think it’s unique just to Islander or Bryan Trottier fans,” he said. “I think anytime you can share a moment — and people share moments with me, where they were when we won the championship.
“Those shared moments I think are special and unique to everybody. I wouldn’t exclude any sports fan, I’d include all sports fans or anybody who’s looking for that unique special moment in time. They might remember something that was unique to them at that time.”