Pat LaFontaine: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Born February 22, 1965 (1965-02-22) (age 44),
St. Louis, MO, USA
5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)
180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Center
Shot Right
Pro clubs New York Islanders (19831991)
Buffalo Sabres (19911997)
New York Rangers (1997–1998)
Ntl. team  United States
NHL Draft 3rd overall, 1983
New York Islanders
Career 1983 – 1998
Hall of Fame, 2003

Patrick Michael LaFontaine (born February 22, 1965) is an American former ice hockey center in the National Hockey League (NHL) who spent his entire career playing for the league's New York-based teams; LaFontaine skated for the New York Islanders from 1983 until 1991, the Buffalo Sabres from 1991 until 1997, and the New York Rangers from 1997 until his retirement in 1998.

LaFontaine worked briefly for the Islanders as the senior adviser to owner Charles Wang before abruptly resigning on July 18, 2006.


Junior hockey

Although he was born in St. Louis, LaFontaine grew up in Waterford, Michigan and graduated from Waterford Kettering High School. LaFontaine began his junior career with the Verdun Juniors of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (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 as the 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 United States in the 1984 Winter Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia.

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 a.m. on the 19, Easter Sunday. "It was the most memorable moment in my hockey life," he later recalled. "Even today, wherever I go, people come up to me and start telling me where they were during the Easter Epic."

The Islanders continued to struggle and in 1989, they 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, 148 points and Mogilny's 76 goals still stand as the Sabres' team records for a single season). 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 teammate Mike Keane 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. "I am truly thrilled to receive this tremendous honor," said LaFontaine upon receiving the news. "Growing up in St. Louis, I always played for the love of the game and never dreamed this could ever lead to my being a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame." 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. [1] 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.

LaFontaine devotes most of his energy today to The Companions in Courage Foundation (, an organization he founded to build interactive game rooms in children's hospitals throughout North America. Inspired by the many children he visited in hospitals during his playing career, LaFontaine was often told by medical professionals how his visits played a role in the well-being of their patients.

The hockey star engaged Edwin Schlossberg of ESI Design in New York City to create an environment that would inspire and be a safe haven for young patients in a hospital. Working with the Microsoft Corporation and Cisco Systems, the foundation's "Lion's Den Rooms" has four primary components: 1) Xbox 360 game terminals that allow patients to play as individuals or in a social environment with other patients. 2) PCs that allow the children to connect via email and instant messaging to classmates and family. 3) Flat Panel TV connected to a Windows Media Server that allows children to select from age-appropriate movies or to watch and record educational programs. 4) Video Conference Pod to allow children to connect with family and friends or to "meet" celebrities in this virtual world.

The objective of the room is to treat the emotional state of children who are going through the most traumatic experiences of their lives. Each Lion’s Den Room is connected to a network that allows the children from each hospital to interact in games and in video presentations with each other. The Lion’s Den helps bring the outside world in to the hospital and enables sick children to have their dreams come true during a desperate time in their lives.

In 2000, the Congressional Medal of Honor Society bestowed the Patriot Award on LaFontaine in recognition of his contribution to military morale throughout his career. In 2002, LaFontaine was named one of the recipients of the First Annual Honorary GOAL! Award. The GOAL! (Go On And Live) Awards recognize and celebrate individuals who have overcome depression and demonstrated an ability to "go on and live" through volunteering and community service. The initiative is sponsored by the Points of Light Foundation.

In April 2003, LaFontaine was recognized with the International Humanitarian Award by the Gift of Life Foundation, an organization promoting the cure and treatment of children suffering from heart disease in third world countries.

In March 2004, Pat was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame at a ceremony in Detroit. In March 2005, LaFontaine was named recipient of the James Keller Award by The Christophers organization. Since 1987, the Award has recognized individuals who have contributed in a meaningful way to the well-being of young people.

In 2007, LaFontaine was inducted into the Nassau County Sports Hall of Fame.

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. This was short-lived, however, as LaFontaine resigned only six weeks later, on July 18, 2006, the same day that Neil Smith was fired by the Islanders.

See also

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



Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address