Sabres retire Hall of Famer LaFontaine's No. 16

Updated: March 5, 2006, 7:39 PM ET
Associated Press

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Pat LaFontaine did enough during six years in Buffalo to have his No. 16 Sabres jersey retired to the rafters.

"Not in my wildest dreams I'd think a night like this would happen," LaFontaine said Friday night when the Sabres honored him before a game against Toronto. "To be back in this fashion is really special. This gesture is over the top and overwhelming."

LaFontaine, who was Buffalo's captain from 1992-97, became the sixth Sabres player to have his number retired by the team. He joined Gilbert Perreault (11), Rick Martin (7), Rene Robert (14), Tim Horton (2) and Danny Gare (18).

LaFontaine was acquired by Buffalo from the New York Islanders in a blockbuster 1991 trade that also involved former No. 1 overall pick Pierre Turgeon. He immediately made an impact, scoring 46 goals for the Sabres in 1991-92.

The following season, the Michigan native teamed with winger Alexander Mogilny to produce the most electrifying offensive in the Sabres' 36-year history. LaFontaine scored 53 goals and set up 95 others for a franchise-record 148 points. Mogilny was the beneficiary of most of those assists, scoring a team-record 76 goals.

Both marks still stand.

Overall, LaFontaine had 158 goals and 385 points in 268 games with the Sabres.

"I feel a little bit of everything, but most of all I'm humbled and honored," LaFontaine said.

After a one-season stint with the New York Rangers, LaFontaine retired in 1998 after 15 years in the NHL. His career was cut short by the last in a series of concussions.

He finished with 468 goals and 1,013 points in 865 games -- mostly recorded with the Islanders -- and was elected to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2003. The Islanders haven't retired his No. 16.

LaFontaine, who lives on Long Island with his wife and three children, is heavily involved with humanitarian and charitable work. His Companions in Courage foundation has established playrooms and provided computers to numerous children's hospitals, including one in Buffalo.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press