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In '92-'93, LaFontaine's line was something special

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12-16-2012, 12:08 PM
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Sabretip
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In '92-'93, LaFontaine's line was something special

Themed article on NHL.com celebrating the 20th anniversary of the 1992-93 season, which was one of the most entertaining Sabres' regular seasons (and 1st round) IMO:

Quote:
"That season was really special," LaFontaine told NHL.com. "I played on that line from day one when I arrived in Buffalo and knew it would be hard to duplicate that year ... having those guys as linemates."

Flanked by Mogilny and Andreychuk, LaFontaine racked up a career-high 95 assists and 148 points, which remains the highest total recorded by an American-born player in a single season.
Quote:
Through 11 regular-season games in 1992-93, LaFontaine had 30 points; seven games later, on Nov. 17, 1992, the total was 40. He'd reach 100 points on an assist in his team's 55th game. However, the Sabres ultimately were swept by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Canadiens in the Adams Division Finals.

"It just seemed like Alex and I knew where each other was and Dave came in and cleared the zone in front of the net and picked up a lot of rebounds," LaFontaine said. "There was a sixth sense with guys knowing where to be and none of us even had to look ... it was kind of reactionary. When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and when you're firing on all cylinders, you're going to have a lot of fun."
Quote:
"It just seemed like Alex and I knew where each other was and Dave came in and cleared the zone in front of the net and picked up a lot of rebounds," LaFontaine said. "There was a sixth sense with guys knowing where to be and none of us even had to look ... it was kind of reactionary. When the whole is greater than the sum of its parts and when you're firing on all cylinders, you're going to have a lot of fun."

What people forget is that if Andreychuk wasn't dealt to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for goalie Grant Fuhr in February that season, the Andreychuk-LaFontaine-Mogilny line might have been the first and only one in League history to have three players with 50-plus goals in the same season.

As it turned out, LaFontaine had 53, Mogilny had 76 and Andreychuk finished with 54, including 25 following his trade to the Maple Leafs.

"We would have been the first line in the history of hockey to do that," LaFontaine said. "I guess you can say I was able to feel what it might have been like playing for the Edmonton Oilers in the 1980s."

LaFontaine, who admitted he pestered Mogilny to shoot more that season, said he always will admire the tremendous hands and acceleration exhibited by his Russian linemate. To this day, LaFontaine doesn't believe he's seen a player faster than Mogilny from blue line to blue line.

"I would just get the puck and look and knew he was taking off. And once he got the engine running, it took only four strides before he was already at full speed," LaFontaine said.
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=645677

I remember so many games of that season and the power plays that Muckler could throw out there with LaLine and Hawerchuk:

Quote:
The speed and talent on the Buffalo roster helped Mogilny put the puck in the net. But the sudden scoring surge was also precipitated by a small tweak coach John Muckler made to the Sabres power play. In an effort to find a way to play Mogilny, LaFontaine and Hawerchuk together, Muckler moved Hawerchuk to the point. With the scoring center – who had seven 40-goal seasons before coming to Buffalo – quarterbacking the man advantage, the Sabres' power play became one of the League's best. Mogilny served as the finisher in that unit, scoring 27 power-play goals, which ranked third in the NHL behind Brett Hull and Andreychuk, who was traded to Toronto in a midseason deal that brought Grant Fuhr to Buffalo.

"We improvised as good as anybody. To me that's the key on the power play," Hawerchuk told NHL.com. "When you have that kind of talent on the ice, you let the instincts take over. It didn't take me long to figure out to get the puck to Mogilny or LaFontaine.

"I remember we played in Hartford one night and Pierre McGuire was coaching. We scored five or six power-play goals against him and he got fired the next day. Years later when I ran into him, he said, 'You guys cost me my job.'"
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=6...d=nhl:topheads

It was the Sabres' version of the Oilers' run-and-gun and tons of fun to watch. They didn't have solid goaltending that year and the defense corps (Bodger, Ledyard, Svoboda, Smehlik, Carney, Sutton, Moller) was a patchwork of parts but their forwards were solid before the Andreychuk-for-Fuhr trade:

Andreychuk-LaFontaine-Mogilny
Wood-Hawerchuk-Audette
Khmylev-Sweeney-Presley
May-Hannan-Ray

Ah, the good ol' days.........


Last edited by Sabretip: 12-16-2012 at 12:30 PM.
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12-16-2012, 12:27 PM
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By the fall of 1992, Sabres general manager Gerry Meehan had surrounded his star winger with All-Star forwards Pat LaFontaine and Dale Hawerchuk, two world-class players who could keep up with Mogilny's breakneck pace. It resulted in a historic 76-goal season for Mogilny, a campaign that almost didn't happen.

Mogilny's issues with air travel and his former comrade inspired countless trade rumors. But despite numerous offers, Meehan refused to deal a potential superstar entering his prime.

"There were plenty of people who wanted to take him off our hands. I just said to all my colleagues, 'We're playing this out. There really isn't any deal you could offer that would allow us to trade a player with that promise,'" Meehan said. "Some guys would call offering draft picks or a first-line player and a backup. But we were not interested in any discussion of trading Alex Mogilny."

When Meehan started negotiating with the New York Islanders to acquire LaFontaine early in the 1991-92 season, Mogilny's name came up one more time.

"[Islanders GM] Bill Torrey said, 'This deal can't happen without one of two young players; either Pierre Turgeon or Mogilny.' Alex was the guy we were acquiring LaFontaine to play with," said Meehan, who ultimately dealt Turgeon in the six-player trade. "We had Pierre Turgeon, who is a great player, but he was a different style of player. He played a more deliberate game. Mogilny was a breakaway artist. Speed was his essence. Until LaFontaine came into the picture, we didn't have a player that could complement Alex's great speed and skills."
Quote:
After opening December with one goal in a three-game span that saw the Sabres go 0-2-1, Mogilny rebounded with a hat trick against the Boston Bruins. From there, Mogilny went on a scoring surge the likes of which the NHL has rarely seen. It was during the holiday season that he notched 24 goals in 14 games, fitting in a scorching five-game stretch in which he scored 13 times. In February, Mogilny registered two four-goal games two weeks apart.
http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=6...d=nhl:topheads

I remember that December well - he had 3 hat tricks in the month and another the first week of January. What was so amazing that season is that Mogilny didn't go through any prolonged slumps or droughts lasting more than 3-4 games without a goal IIRC. And even funnier at the time was that, despite all 5-6 breakaways he'd get in most games, he wasn't that reliable on converting them. A lot of the TV commentators from other teams would point out how Mogilny could have had 2-3 goals every game if he were able to convert on all of the breakaway chances his speed gave him.

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