Pat Lafontaine and Dale Hawerchuk in Buffalo

Discussion in 'The History of Hockey' started by Stephen, Feb 23, 2011.

  1. Stephen

    Stephen Registered User

    Feb 28, 2002
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    Dale Hawerchuk was brought to Buffalo for the 1990-91 season and Pat Lafontaine came in 1991-92 for Pierre Turgeon, forming a pretty lethal one two combo for the Buffalo Sabres on paper. Of course Lafontaine went on to have a season for the ages with Alexander Mogilny in 1992-93 and was the captain of the team while Hawerchuk settled into second line duties and I think he had some injury trouble.

    That said, Hawerchuk had a much better track record than Lafontaine throughout the 80s as a offensive producer, so my question is, was there some point was Hawerchuk supposed to be the Sabres number one center when he was brought in from Winnipeg? Why did the Sabres trade Turgeon for Lafontaine? Was there some point where Lafontaine was supposed to be the second line center behind Hawerchuk and how and when did he overtake him for frontline duties?
  2. Big Phil

    Big Phil Registered User

    Nov 2, 2003
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    It's funny, because when you think of Hawerchuk you think of the 1980s. When you think of Lafontaine you think of the 1990s yet they are two years apart.

    I guess the best reason for that is that Hawerchuk peaked earlier and faded quicker. Lafontaine was about 25 or so when he really started to crank it up. On the flip side 25 years old was Hawerchuk's LAST 100 point season.

    Turgeon had his "Tin man" reputation at that time so trading him for Lafontaine was smart in my opinion. Hawerchuk was slowing down by 1991 or so and I'd like to think the Sabres knew that as well so he probably was thought to be an excellent 2nd line center for the team either way
  3. vadim sharifijanov

    vadim sharifijanov ugh

    Oct 10, 2007
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    bad luck for the isles. if lafontaine had had hawerchuk's career arc, edmonton would have had a much harder time in the 80s. similar to the sedins. if they hadn't peaked so late, those nazzy/bert canucks-- cloutier and all-- would have been much more formidable.
  4. Blades of Glory

    Blades of Glory Troll Captain

    Feb 12, 2006
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    By the summer of 1991, it was apparent that Hawerchuk was no longer the explosive player he was during his prime in Winnipeg. After scoring 40+ goals in 7 of his first 8 seasons, Hawerchuk scored only 26 in his final season with the Jets and 31 in his first season in Buffalo, 1990-91. He was still a great passer but no longer could be depended on as a premier goalscoring threat. His even-strength impact was no longer that of a #1 center. Pierre Turgeon had shown flashes of becoming a franchise center, but his skill set was still that of a playmaker more than an elite goalscorer. With the presence of a great passer like Hawerchuk, Buffalo was able to deal Turgeon, who possessed extremely high trade value as a 22-year old, for Lafontaine, who while only 3 years older than Turgeon, had averaged around 46 goals during the past four seasons with the Islanders despite Bryan Trottier being a shell of his former self due to injuries and the retirements of Bossy and Potvin.

    Buffalo made the deal with the assumption that Lafontaine would take the #1 center role over from Hawerchuk, and that's what he did. They also liked the idea of Lafontaine and Hawerchuk on the same PP, which is partially why Hawerchuk scored 60 of his 98 points during Lafontaine's first season in Buffalo on the PP. During 1992-93, Hawerchuk had 56 of his 96 points on the PP. The Sabres had recognized that Hawerchuk was no longer a #1 center, and made a brilliant move to not only get one in Lafontaine, but also preserve Hawerchuk's career by using his playmaking abilities on the PP.
  5. BraveCanadian

    BraveCanadian Registered User

    Jun 30, 2010
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    Hawerchuk had a degenerative hip problem that slowed him down sooner than he would have otherwise.

    By the time he got to Buffalo I'm sure he was expected to be #2 and maybe they were hopeful he could still be #1.. he was still a great player but had definitely lost a step.

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