Humble Pat LaFontaine shrugs off talk of being inducted into the NY Islanders HOF

New York Islanders v  New Jersey Devils
New York Islanders v New Jersey Devils / Focus On Sport/GettyImages

Pat LaFontaine is one of only five New York Islanders draft picks to be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. The others, Denis Potvin, Clark Gillies, Bryan Trottier, and Mike Bossy, all have their numbers retired by the team and are naturally part of the organization's Hall of Fame, which is now featured prominently on the concourse at UBS Arena.

It's been over 30 years since LaFontaine last starred on Long Island, and yet, there's still a large segment of the fanbase, including those who never saw him play, that believe he's more than deserving of having one, if not both, of those honors as well.

"I don't think about it a lot, but I'm grateful for my years here on Long Island, grateful for the fans," LaFontaine said about being inducted into the team Hall of Fame by Peter Schwartz on the latest Double Chili Podcast. "This is home; I root for the team; I wish them well and support them."

LaFontaine never won a Stanley Cup, though he did have nine points (3G, 6A) in 16 games during the "Drive for Five" during the 1984 postseason as an 18-year-old. He took over as the team's top scorer after Bossy retired and scored one of the most memorable post-dynasty goals when he ended the "Easter Epic" with a goal in the 4OT of Game 7 vs the Washington Capitals in 1987.

Things haven't always been great between LaFontaine and the Isles. He grew disgruntled during a long contract dispute and was ultimately traded to the Buffalo Sabres in a deal that sent Pierre Turgeon, Benoit Hogue, and Uwe Krupp to the Islanders. After six seasons in Buffalo, he finished his career with the New York Rangers before retiring at age 32 with 468 goals in 865 games.

Through it all, he remained a Long Islander, maintaining a residence in Suffolk County during his NHL career, and returned to the Island in retirement. "I'm grateful for Bill Torrey, who brought me here," LaFontaine said. "You don't get to choose where it's going to start out. I'm blessed and fortunate."

Like so many other alumni, LaFontaine has been welcomed back by the current ownership group led by Scott Malkin and Jon Ledecky. The relationship struck with ownership makes you think that, eventually, the time could be right for another Hall of Fame induction, but even if it never happens, the retired star center will be rooting for his home team.

"I just want to see them win a Stanley Cup again and no matter what, Long Island is home for me."