After a three-month investigation into Pat LaFontaine's resume as an executive in hockey operations for two NHL franchises, the NCAA announced it has stripped the former star's statistics and awards accumulated while playing for the Buffalo Sabres and New York Islanders.
The sanctions by the world of sports' most sanctimonious body* removes 798 regular season games, 445 goals and 506 assists as well as 62 points in 69 playoff games from LaFontaine's resume. That leaves him with an NHL career total of 23 goals and 39 assists in 67 games played.
*Note: The IOC disputes the legitimacy of this claim.
Since the NCAA's decision restricts his career solely to his time with the Rangers, it also means Pat LaFontaine has never played an NHL playoff game.
According to sources, a key witness in the NCAA investigation was Mike Milbury, the former Bruins player and former Islanders general manager whose history most Islanders fans wish would be stripped from the record books.
"Pat ran for the hills. Pat ran for cover," said Milbury, referring to LaFontaine's 40 days as a member of the committee that succeeded Milbury. with the Islanders. "It was cowardly, and it was terrible. And if Charles [Wang] was [ticked], I wouldn't blame him in the least."
Milbury's role in the investigation comes as no surprise, sources say. After the fallout from LaFontaine's sudden departure from the Islanders front office in 2006, it was the Long Island franchise that first explored the feasibility of erasing a player from its collective memory.
According to a fluke moment when the Wall Street Journal briefly became aware of the Islanders' existence, the transformation of LaFontaine into an unperson was completed in 2008, when Brian Burke brought the former Ranger to Nassau Coliseum, and the former Ranger never returned to the building.
The franchise's 40th anniversary recently passed without any memorabilia referencing the man who wore Jon Sim and Marty Reasoner's old number.
The NCAA denies the Islanders influenced its decision on LaFontaine, however.
"The National Collegiate Athletic Association has long practiced the Orwellian art of declaring certain moments in sports history never happened," said NCAA spokesman Winston O'Brien. "Certainly the Islanders did not invent this tactic and, if I may offer a personal opinion, they did not perfect it. Roll Tide."
LaFontaine resigned from the Sabres front office Saturday under suspicious circumstances. The day after the team traded franchise goalie Ryan Miller, whom LaFontaine had argued should be kept, the club issued a rushed resignation statement in which LaFontaine thanked the ownership and wished the players well but did not reference the team's new GM
Garth Snow Tim Murray.
According to the NCAA as of Saturday evening, LaFontaine never played in five All-Star games, never had his ambulance attacked by the Rangers' smartest fans, and never won the Bill Masterton Trophy for perseverance and sportsmanship. Further, the "Easter Epic" was just an unfortunate moment when your uncle Dale showed up drunk to Easter brunch.
"Look, this man was a good NHL player," O'Brien said. "It's a shame his career was prematurely cut short. But he should be commended for his outstanding 67 games playing in New York."
"For the Rangers," he added.
No, this isn't real. The NCAA lacks jurisdiction over NHL players.
FYI, anything in our Zeitgeist section is never real except in a spiritual sense. Well, other than that Pierre McGuire one; that might have happened, because Pierre hasn't looked the same since Sochi, you know?