By Budd Bailey, Buffalo Sports Page Columnist
No. 5: October 25, 1991 – The Sabres trade Pierre Turgeon, Uwe Krupp, Dave McLlwain and Benoit Hogue to the New York Islanders for Pat LaFontaine, Randy Wood and Randy Hillier.
The Sabres were in an interesting situation in the early 1990s. They knew Memorial Auditorium was starting to get old, and they needed to generate support in the community for a new stadium. Not only did the team have to win games, they needed to do it in an exciting way.
Enter Pat LaFontaine. The center was in the midst of a contract dispute with the New York Islanders, and a trade became possible. When the Sabres said they were willing to give up Pierre Turgeon in a trade, the pieces started to come together for a massive exchange of talent.
LaFontaine signed a new contract, and then fulfilled his part of the bargain. He and Alexander Mogilny teamed up on a line and had a couple of spectacular seasons together. Even better, the Sabres won a playoff series in 1993 and only injuries prevented them from a serious run at the Stanley Cup. The Sabres broke ground on the new arena in 1994, and it wouldn’t be a big stretch to call it “The House That Pat Built.”
Concussions shortened LaFontaine’s career. Even so, it’s worth noting that Turgeon had a significant career of his own. He finished with 515 goals and 1,327 points in 19 years. That’s three goals and one point ahead of Gil Perreault’s career totals.
(Follow Budd on Twitter @WDX2BB)