Pat LaFontaine came to the New York Islanders just like the way he played: shot out of a rocket. LaFontaine would play for Team USA at the 1984 winter Olympics in Sarajevo. As soon as it was done he reported to the Islanders putting up 19 points in 15 games played.
In 16 playoff games, LaFontaine contributed nine points as the Islanders who were appearing in their fifth NHL Stanley Cup final in a row. The Isles would lose to the Edmonton Oilers. But the LaFontaine was just getting off the ground.
As the rest of the Islanders core was hitting their decline and aging, Pat LaFontaine was young and energetic.Oh, and he was tremendously skilled to boot.
In 530 games with the New York Islanders LaFontaine put up 566 points. For four seasons he put up 80 points or more. His most productive was 1989-90 when he had 105 points. A season where he finished third in Lady Byng votes and fifth in Hart Trophy voting.
It didn’t last forever. Just because LaFontaine was a fantastic player (and eventually a Hall of Fame player) didn’t make him immune from the realities of playing for the Islanders. In the prime of his career, LaFontaine was traded after failing to report to the team.
LaFontaine should have been the key to the next wave of success for the Islanders. The small but speedy center was a constant goal threat. Unfortunately, the situation on Long Island made it untenable for him…sounds familiar. Some 27 years later.