Ice Hockey Wiki
Pat LaFontaine
Position Center
Shot Right
5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
180 lb (82 kg)
Teams New York Islanders (19831991)
Buffalo Sabres (19911997)
New York Rangers (1997–1998)
Nationality Flag of the United States American
Born (1965-02-22)February 22, 1965,
St. Louis, Missouri
NHL Draft 3rd overall, 1983
New York Islanders
Pro Career 1983 – 1998
Hall of Fame, 2003

Pat LaFontaine (born February 22, 1965, in St. Louis, Missouri) is a former center in the National Hockey League, who played his entire career for all three New York-based teams: the New York Islanders (1983–1991), Buffalo Sabres (1991–1997), and New York Rangers (1997–1998). LaFontaine worked for the Islanders as the senior advisor to the owner, Charles Wang before resigning on July 18, 2006.

Junior hockey

Although he was born in St. Louis, LaFontaine grew up in Waterford, Michigan. LaFontaine began his junior career with the Verdun Juniors of the QMJHL during the 1982–83 season. The rookie contributed 104 goals and 130 assists for Verdun. LaFontaine's 234 points was tops in the league, and he was awarded the Jean Béliveau Trophy as the top scorer, out-dueling future NHL icon Mario Lemieux. His outstanding rookie season broke many records, including Guy Lafleur's 40-game point-scoring streak and Mike Bossy's 70 goals by a rookie.

Other awards LaFontaine received that season were the Michel Brière Commemorative Trophy as the MVP of the regular season, the Guy Lafleur Trophy as the MVP of the playoffs, the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the Offensive Rookie of the Year, the Mike Bossy Trophy as the best professional prospect, and the Frank J. Selke Commemorative Trophy as the Most sportsmanlike player. Also in 1982–1983 Pat Lafontaine was chosen CHL Player of the Year.

NHL career

On October 1, 1981, the New York Islanders traded Bob Lorimer and Dave Cameron to the Colorado Rockies for the Rockies first round draft pick in 1983. Pat LaFontaine was selected by the Islanders in the 1st round as the 3rd pick overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft with the draft pick they had acquired from the Rockies. LaFontaine started his NHL career after representing the US in the 1984 Sarajevo Olympics.

He appeared in the Stanley Cup Finals in only his rookie season, although the Edmonton Oilers won the series and ended the Islanders' reign of four consecutive Stanley Cup Championships. LaFontaine distinguished himself with a strong performance, scoring two third-period goals during the Islanders' 5–2 loss to the Oilers in the fifth and deciding game of the series.

However, his arrival was concurrent with the beginning of the end of the Islanders' dynasty, which was steeped deep in aging veterans. LaFontaine would have a promising career ahead as one of the team's best players, but he was unable to reverse the Islanders' gradual slide.

In the 1987 playoffs, LaFontaine scored a famous goal in the 4th overtime period of the seventh and decisive game between the Islanders and Washington Capitals, known as the "Easter Epic". The game was started on Saturday, April 18, and concluded just before 2 am on the 19th, Easter Sunday.

The Islanders continued to struggle, and in 1989 missed the playoffs for the first time since 1974. In the first game of his next series, in 1990, LaFontaine suffered the first of many concussions, after a controversial, open-ice hit by James Patrick of the New York Rangers. He fell on his head, and was unconscious while being taken off the ice on a stretcher. Famously, his ambulance was delayed en route to the hospital by Ranger fans who tried to turn the ambulance over. He was lost for the remainder of the series.

The 1990–91 season was another strong season for LaFontaine, but the Islanders did not have a good season, finishing a dismal 25–45–10. LaFontaine, frustrated with his situation on Long Island, turned down a four year, $6 million contract offer and refused to report to the Islanders for the start of the 1991–92 NHL season. Three weeks into the season, on October 25 1991, LaFontaine was traded, along with teammate Randy Wood, to the Buffalo Sabres for four players, including former first overall pick Pierre Turgeon.

LaFontaine exploded offensively in the 1992–93 season with a personal-best and team-record 148 points (53 goals and 95 assists). The 148 points are also the most points ever scored by an American-born player in one season. His play-making ability enabled his linemate, Alexander Mogilny to set a team season record with 76 goals, (both LaFontaine's 95 assists and Mogilny's 76 goals still stand as the Sabres' team records). LaFontaine finished as runner-up to Mario Lemieux in the scoring race and earned a spot on the postseason NHL All-Star Second Team. He was also a finalist for the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP and the Lady Byng Trophy as the most sportsmanlike player.

During the 1993 playoffs, LaFontaine engineered another great moment: in spite of playing with a damaged knee, as well as having fallen onto the ice, he still managed to set up Brad May's overtime, series-clinching goal against the Boston Bruins.

In the 1994–1995 season he was awarded the Bill Masterton Trophy as the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to ice hockey.

LaFontaine is one of three players in NHL history to skate for all three teams based in the state of New York. The others were Mike Donnelly and former teammate Jason Dawe, although LaFontaine played his entire career in the state of New York while Donnelly also played for the Los Angeles Kings and Dallas Stars and Dawe also played for the Montreal Canadiens and Nashville Predators. LaFontaine once joked about it, saying "I got to play for three great organizations in my career and never once had to buy new license plates."

Career statistics

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1982–83 Verdun Juniors QMJHL 70 104 130 234 10 15 11 24 35 4
1983–84 United States Nat-Tm 58 56 55 111 22 -- -- -- -- --
1983–84 New York Islanders NHL 15 13 6 19 6 16 3 6 9 8
1984–85 New York Islanders NHL 67 19 35 54 32 9 1 2 3 4
1985–86 New York Islanders NHL 65 30 23 53 43 3 1 0 1 0
1986–87 New York Islanders NHL 80 38 32 70 70 14 5 7 12 10
1987–88 New York Islanders NHL 75 47 45 92 52 6 4 5 9 8
1988–89 New York Islanders NHL 79 45 43 88 26 -- -- -- -- --
1989–90 New York Islanders NHL 74 54 51 105 38 2 0 1 1 0
1990–91 New York Islanders NHL 75 41 44 85 42 -- -- -- -- --
1991–92 Buffalo Sabres NHL 57 46 47 93 98 7 8 3 11 4
1992–93 Buffalo Sabres NHL 84 53 95 148 63 7 2 10 12 0
1993–94 Buffalo Sabres NHL 16 5 13 18 2 -- -- -- -- --
1994–95 Buffalo Sabres NHL 22 12 15 27 4 5 2 2 4 2
1995–96 Buffalo Sabres NHL 76 40 51 91 36 -- -- -- -- --
1996–97 Buffalo Sabres NHL 13 2 6 8 4 -- -- -- -- --
1997–98 New York Rangers NHL 67 23 39 62 36 -- -- -- -- --
NHL totals 865 468 545 1013 552 69 26 36 62 36


The 1996–97 season was the beginning of the end of his career. In a game against the Pittsburgh Penguins, LaFontaine was hammered by François Leroux with a high hit to the head, knocking him out with a concussion. This hit caused a condition called post-concussion syndrome. He was determined to return, even though the doctors advised against such an attempt. Sabres management, in conjunction with team doctors and specialists, refused to clear LaFontaine to return, and recommended he retire. LaFontaine, still believing he could play, demanded a trade, which the Sabres obliged. He was traded to the New York Rangers for a 2nd round draft choice in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and future considerations on September 29, 1997.

In a game against the Ottawa Senators on March 16, 1998, LaFontaine accidentally collided with a Rangers teammate and suffered another concussion. LaFontaine missed the remainder of the season. And on October 12, 1999, thirty-four year old Pat LaFontaine officially announced his retirement.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on November 3, 2003. He was inducted into the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in that same year.

On March 3, 2006, the Buffalo Sabres retired LaFontaine's number 16. He was also inducted into the Buffalo Sabres Hall of Fame that same year.

Since 2001, the Pat LaFontaine Trophy has been awarded to the winner of the Rangers-Islanders season series.

Back to the NHL

On June 7, 2006, the Islanders announced that Pat LaFontaine would return to the Islanders as Senior Advisor to the Owner.

He resigned July 18, 2006, the same day that Neil Smith was fired by the Islanders.

External links

Preceded by
Mike Ramsey
Buffalo Sabres captains
Alexander Mogilny, 1993–94
Succeeded by
Michael Peca
Preceded by
Cam Neely
Bill Masterton Trophy Winner
Succeeded by
Gary Roberts
Preceded by
Dave Simpson
CHL Player of the Year
Succeeded by
Mario Lemieux

Note: Ramsey resigned captaincy during the 1992–93 NHL season, in favour of LaFontaine. Mogilny served as captain during most of the 1993–94 NHL season, while LaFontaine was injured and out of line-up

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