BIRTHPLACE: St. Louis, Mo.
BORN: February 22, 1965
TEAMS/ASSOCIATIONS: New York Islanders, Buffalo Sabres, New York Rangers
Pat LaFontaine grew up in Waterford, Mich., loving the game of hockey. He played one season of junior hockey for Verdun in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League and was honored as the Canadian Major Junior Player of the Year in 1983.
That next year, LaFontaine embarked on what would prove to be a very successful 15-year NHL career by signing with the New York Islanders. LaFontaine would go on to play eight seasons with the Islanders, followed by six seasons with Buffalo, where he captained the team from 1992-97. His best year came in 1993 when he scored a career best 148 points. LaFontaine then finished his illustrious career with the New York Rangers in 1998.
Remarkably, LaFontaine scored at least 40 goals in six consecutive seasons in the NHL. Reaching the 1,000 point plateau in his final season, LaFontaine finished with 1,013 points and 468 goals. He also played in five NHL All-Star games.
LaFontaine also had an outstanding international career, which began as a member of the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team that competed in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. LaFontaine, who led that team in scoring with 10 points in six games, was also a key member of the U.S. contingent in the 1987 and 1992 Canada Cup tournaments. Additionally, LaFontaine captained the 1989 U.S. National Team and helped Team USA to the title at the 1996 World Cup of Hockey, scoring four points in five games. Then, at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan, LaFontaine tallied one goal and one assist in four games played.
Among LaFontaine's many awards and honors, he was named the Dodge/NHL Performer of the Year in 1990; was awarded the NHL's Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1995 for perserverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey; recieved the USA Hockey Distinguished Achievement Award in 1993; and was given the Patriot Award by the Congressional medal of Honor Society in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to military morale throughout his career.