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Pat Lafontaine Peak

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Old
07-28-2010, 01:36 PM
  #1
BenchBrawl
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Pat Lafontaine Peak

For some unknown reason everytime I think of Pat Lafontaine it's like I dont remember seeing him play despite the fact he played Junior in my city and i'm pretty sure I saw him on TV lots of time but just can't remember.

How good was he at his peak?

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07-28-2010, 01:54 PM
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ushvinder
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He was top 10 from 1990-93, but then he really fell off after that.

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07-28-2010, 01:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ushvinder View Post
He was top 10 from 1990-93, but then he really fell off after that.
He was very good before that just with a declining team.

And after that he was hurt a lot, ultimately retiring from concussion.

He was a flashy exciting player. Quick, goalscoring type of guy.

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07-28-2010, 02:12 PM
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Incredible. One of the most dazzling, exciting and fearless offensive players I have ever seen. In the early 90s (say, from his arrival in Buffalo in 1991 to his knee injury in October of 1993), he was rated as the second-best player in the league, behind only Mario, on a lot of lists.

He was a one-man show in Long Island from about 1988 (once Trottier's skills started to diminish) to his departure in 1991. His 100-point season in 1989-90 was absolutely remarkable. Yes, the Patrick Division was abysmal that year, but his wingers that season were the likes of injury-prone Pat Flatley (Flatley was a fine two-way player when healthy; keeping him healthy was a challenge), Randy "Hands of" Wood, past-his-prime Dan Maloney, and green Derek King and Derek Volek. LaFontaine eventually got tire of trying to do something with nothing, and asked for a trade.

The moment he arrived in Buffalo, we saw what he could do. If not for a deliberate attempt to injure by Jamie Macoun, Lafontaine probably finishes in the top five in scoring in 1991-92, even though he missed the first month of the season due to his hold-out. You often see a guy overachieve with a new team, because he's trying to prove himself to a new team. He showed that the final five months of 1991-92 weren't a fluke, because he was better in 1992-93. He was magic with Mogilny. He brought the best out of the oft-inconsistent Mogilny. It helped that he had Dale Hawerchuk on the second line (as well as the point on the PP), and Dave Andreychuk in front of the net for most of the season, but make no mistake about it: surrounded by players who were at his level, LaFontaine was almost unstoppable.

The knee injury in 1993-94 was a big setback. It pretty much cost him two years of his career. When he came back, he was still dazzling. But Mogilny was sulking. Hawerchuk was near the end with the hip injury. And in 1995-96, LaFontaine was back to the one-man show of the Islander days. Forty goals and 91 points might seem disappointing for a player of Lafontaine's incredible skill, but keep in mind the Sabres No. 2 and No. 3 scorers were Randy Burridge and Derek Plante.

He was always a guy heralded as a top 10 player in the league from 88 to 94. The knee injury and the very subpar linemates prevented him from putting up the incredible career numbers. 50 goals and 120 points, for a player of his ilk, would have been within his reach each year, instead of 45 goals and 90 points, if he had linemates who were remotely close to his level. The knee injury and the supporting cast prevented him from posting truly remarkable numbers. But they couldn't keep him from his rightful place in the HHOF.

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07-28-2010, 06:18 PM
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A treat to watch for sure. I think in his prime he was so good that it pushes him over the edge into the HHOF by a noticeable margin despite his shortened career. He was a rare talent that's for sure. His injury prone 1992 season is incredibly underrated when you think of it. He would have been right there with Gretzky points wise had he been healthy that year which is quite the feat even if it isn't a prime Gretzky anymore. Unfortunately it didn't last long and he kept getting hurt. The hit Francois Leroux delivered to him in 1996 is painful to watch. That cost him his career

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07-28-2010, 11:42 PM
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vadim sharifijanov
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Quote:
Originally Posted by God Bless Canada View Post
He was always a guy heralded as a top 10 player in the league from 88 to 94.
top ten scorer, or top ten forward, i can see. but top ten player? in most of those years, wouldn't he be decisively behind at least gretzky, lemieux, messier, roy, hull, oates, bourque, chelios, yzerman, and one of macinnis ('88-'91) or belfour ('91-94)?

i remember always liking him because he was such a treat to watch (plus one of my most cherished possessions as a kid in the mid-80s was a hockey book that had a chapter on gretzky, bourque, goulet, hextall, clark, and lafontaine). people were always calling him underrated when he was on the islanders, and his great first half season in buffalo kind of flew under the radar. then the '92-'93 season happened and everyone was like, "well i knew he was underrated, but it turns out he was really really underrated." but i still think "always heralded as top 10" is a stretch, and maybe symptomatic of his now being slightly overrated by some due to what-ifs.

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07-29-2010, 04:18 PM
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Take it for whats its worth, but entering the 1992/93 season, which was probably his best in the league, The Hockey News in their season preview had a very extensive article arguing that he was the second best player in the NHL, behind Mario Lemieux.

Gerry Meehan knew he was aquiring a hell of a player when he traded for him, but even he was stunned about how good he actually was when he actually had top level talent around him.

Meehan quote.. "When you look at the complete package, the scoring, leadership, the impact he had on our team, how other players around him play to the best of their ability, you simply cant ask for more from one guy. I'm not going to put numbers on people, but I'll say that with the excepation of Mario Lemieux he is as good as anyone in the game today"

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07-29-2010, 05:55 PM
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Having had the pleasure of seeing LaFontaine play many times with the Islanders, he was definitely top 10 at the time. His trade to Buffalo was the first in a seemingly endless succession of bad moves made back then by Islander management. No rap against Turgeon, but he was dealt away unwisely as well. But I digress...

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07-29-2010, 10:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post
top ten scorer, or top ten forward, i can see. but top ten player? in most of those years, wouldn't he be decisively behind at least gretzky, lemieux, messier, roy, hull, oates, bourque, chelios, yzerman, and one of macinnis ('88-'91) or belfour ('91-94)?
In 1993 for sure he is a top 10 player in the game. Ditto for 1992 (93 points in 57 games). And 1990 was right there as well. That's three seasons that you can easily make a case for him. Now you make some good points, overall he was behind those players you named, but he had peaks and valleys and when players like Messier had off years Lafontaine was right there (1993). But if you just take a particular season in general I think 1992 and 1993 are good examples. Who had a better SEASON overall than him? Not many IMO:

1990 - Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Bourque, Roy, Yzerman, Hull, perhaps MacInnis. That puts him in top 10 territory again.

1992 - Lemieux, Gretzky, Bourque, Roy, Hull, Leetch, Yzerman, maybe even say Stevens. That leaves him in pretty good company.

1993 - Lemieux, Gretzky (playoff puts him over the top)..........then who? Oates, Yzerman etc. are close but Lafontaine got the 2nd team all-star over them. I think it is a good case to say that he had the 3rd best year in the NHL that season.

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07-29-2010, 11:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
In 1993 for sure he is a top 10 player in the game. Ditto for 1992 (93 points in 57 games). And 1990 was right there as well. That's three seasons that you can easily make a case for him. Now you make some good points, overall he was behind those players you named, but he had peaks and valleys and when players like Messier had off years Lafontaine was right there (1993). But if you just take a particular season in general I think 1992 and 1993 are good examples. Who had a better SEASON overall than him? Not many IMO:

1990 - Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Bourque, Roy, Yzerman, Hull, perhaps MacInnis. That puts him in top 10 territory again.

1992 - Lemieux, Gretzky, Bourque, Roy, Hull, Leetch, Yzerman, maybe even say Stevens. That leaves him in pretty good company.

1993 - Lemieux, Gretzky (playoff puts him over the top)..........then who? Oates, Yzerman etc. are close but Lafontaine got the 2nd team all-star over them. I think it is a good case to say that he had the 3rd best year in the NHL that season.
gilmour had a better year than gretzky in 1993, in 1992 you left off the mvp messier.

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07-30-2010, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by God Bless Canada View Post
Incredible. One of the most dazzling, exciting and fearless offensive players I have ever seen. In the early 90s (say, from his arrival in Buffalo in 1991 to his knee injury in October of 1993), he was rated as the second-best player in the league, behind only Mario, on a lot of lists.

He was a one-man show in Long Island from about 1988 (once Trottier's skills started to diminish) to his departure in 1991. His 100-point season in 1989-90 was absolutely remarkable. Yes, the Patrick Division was abysmal that year, but his wingers that season were the likes of injury-prone Pat Flatley (Flatley was a fine two-way player when healthy; keeping him healthy was a challenge), Randy "Hands of" Wood, past-his-prime Dan Maloney, and green Derek King and Derek Volek. LaFontaine eventually got tire of trying to do something with nothing, and asked for a trade.

The moment he arrived in Buffalo, we saw what he could do. If not for a deliberate attempt to injure by Jamie Macoun, Lafontaine probably finishes in the top five in scoring in 1991-92, even though he missed the first month of the season due to his hold-out. You often see a guy overachieve with a new team, because he's trying to prove himself to a new team. He showed that the final five months of 1991-92 weren't a fluke, because he was better in 1992-93. He was magic with Mogilny. He brought the best out of the oft-inconsistent Mogilny. It helped that he had Dale Hawerchuk on the second line (as well as the point on the PP), and Dave Andreychuk in front of the net for most of the season, but make no mistake about it: surrounded by players who were at his level, LaFontaine was almost unstoppable.

The knee injury in 1993-94 was a big setback. It pretty much cost him two years of his career. When he came back, he was still dazzling. But Mogilny was sulking. Hawerchuk was near the end with the hip injury. And in 1995-96, LaFontaine was back to the one-man show of the Islander days. Forty goals and 91 points might seem disappointing for a player of Lafontaine's incredible skill, but keep in mind the Sabres No. 2 and No. 3 scorers were Randy Burridge and Derek Plante.

He was always a guy heralded as a top 10 player in the league from 88 to 94. The knee injury and the very subpar linemates prevented him from putting up the incredible career numbers. 50 goals and 120 points, for a player of his ilk, would have been within his reach each year, instead of 45 goals and 90 points, if he had linemates who were remotely close to his level. The knee injury and the supporting cast prevented him from posting truly remarkable numbers. But they couldn't keep him from his rightful place in the HHOF.
This post best sums up what he was like a truly exceptional talent and one of the top ten players in the years he played in, his peak years adjusted are 5 seasons of over 90 points and one of those 90 pointers came in 57 games which came after his 130 point adjusted season.

Think Marcel Dionne like but a notch lower and shorter career.

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07-30-2010, 01:31 PM
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Pat LaFontaine:

I remember highly touted Pat LaFontaine, up from the 1984 Olympics in time for the Finals vs Gretzky & Oilers....And thinking: ``He`s the TINTIN of Hockey!``..Suitable praise indeed....

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07-30-2010, 01:49 PM
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Pat in his prime was a bit better version of Yzerman at the time imo. I'm also a much bigger fan of Yzerman as well.

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07-30-2010, 03:30 PM
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vadim sharifijanov
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Originally Posted by Big Phil View Post
In 1993 for sure he is a top 10 player in the game. Ditto for 1992 (93 points in 57 games). And 1990 was right there as well. That's three seasons that you can easily make a case for him. Now you make some good points, overall he was behind those players you named, but he had peaks and valleys and when players like Messier had off years Lafontaine was right there (1993). But if you just take a particular season in general I think 1992 and 1993 are good examples. Who had a better SEASON overall than him? Not many IMO:

1990 - Gretzky, Lemieux, Messier, Bourque, Roy, Yzerman, Hull, perhaps MacInnis. That puts him in top 10 territory again.

1992 - Lemieux, Gretzky, Bourque, Roy, Hull, Leetch, Yzerman, maybe even say Stevens. That leaves him in pretty good company.

1993 - Lemieux, Gretzky (playoff puts him over the top)..........then who? Oates, Yzerman etc. are close but Lafontaine got the 2nd team all-star over them. I think it is a good case to say that he had the 3rd best year in the NHL that season.
for sure, he's a top ten player in the league in '90 and '93. wasn't he something like fifth in hart voting in '90? in '92, let's call him a push. certainly chelios should be higher than him on that list, messier as ushvinder points out, and, assuming that the stevens up there is kevin, i'd say scott stevens has a decent argument too.

but that's three seasons out of a seven season stretch. and i don't think anyone would even dream of calling him a top ten player in '88, '89, '91, or '94. maybe i'm just quibbling here, but to me there's a big difference between a guy who has a few peak years where he's top ten (with a top five career year), and saying that a guy was "always" a top ten player in the league for his entire seven year prime.

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08-01-2010, 07:10 PM
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Big Phil
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gilmour had a better year than gretzky in 1993, in 1992 you left off the mvp messier.
I did. Okay even with Mess in there that's still pretty elite company. Put Gilmour in right in that mix too in 1993. Still elite company

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08-01-2010, 07:13 PM
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Originally Posted by vadim sharifijanov View Post

but that's three seasons out of a seven season stretch. and i don't think anyone would even dream of calling him a top ten player in '88, '89, '91, or '94. maybe i'm just quibbling here, but to me there's a big difference between a guy who has a few peak years where he's top ten (with a top five career year), and saying that a guy was "always" a top ten player in the league for his entire seven year prime.
But to be fair he falls into the category of having poor health. After 1993 he had one "complete" season and that was 76 games in total. He'd also be darn close to a top 10 player in the game in 1991

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