There are no short cuts on the path of mastery and those that carve a path – that has yet be carved – have much to teach us about pushing the accepted norms of what most people think is possible. Pat LaFontaine has done both. He’s considered one of (if not the) best American hockey player to play in the NHL, in a time when American born players were not heralded as being “one of the best.” One of the many gifts he has provided the next generation was to look beyond the horizon and believe (by training craft, mind, and body) that there was more to experience. He’s done this through hockey, service, charity, and intimate relationships.
Pat LaFontaine grew up in Waterford, Mich., loving the game of hockey. He embarked on what would prove to be a very successful 15-year NHL career by signing with the New York Islanders. LaFontaine would go on to play eight seasons with the Islanders, followed by six seasons with Buffalo, where he captained the team from 1992-97. His best year came in 1993 when he scored a career best 148 points. LaFontaine then finished his career with the New York Rangers in 1998.
Remarkably, LaFontaine scored at least 40 goals in six consecutive seasons in the NHL. Reaching the 1,000 point plateau in his final season, LaFontaine finished with 1,013 points and 468 goals. He also played in five NHL All-Star games.
Among LaFontaine’s many awards and honors, he was named the Dodge/NHL Performer of the Year in 1990; was awarded the NHL’s Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy in 1995 for perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey; received the USA Hockey Distinguished Achievement Award in 1993; and was given the Patriot Award by the Congressional medal of Honor Society in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to military morale throughout his career.
NHL, Olympic Games, Congressional honors, service to kids, great wine, being a great spouse and father, investing in mental and physical talent, concussion syndrome, giving to the next generation. Brilliance.
Keep carving your own path, helping others to do the same.
“Don’t try to climb the mountain. Make it little hills every day and before you know it you’ll be there.”
In This Episode:
- Growing up surrounded by a hard working family
- Being the youngest on his youth hockey teams
- What ignited his love for hockey
- His role models growing up
- Setting an initial goal of getting a college scholarship
- The moment he realized American players could make it
- His legendary Michigan youth club team
- The impact Canadian hockey had on his drive to become better
- Importance of mindset and being even keel
- Having no regrets
- Why positive self-talk makes a difference
- Allowing experiences to pass through you
- The dark place concussions brought him to
“What ignited me was the feeling of what it meant to skate and feel free with the air and the wind. This is something that touched my soul, that touched the authentic part of me. I fell in love with it. There is something about gliding and floating through the air that is magical to me.”
“If you’re going to let the highs get too high, the lows are going to be a lot lower and longer.”
“What’s really hard is being a pro, who comes consistently, night after night after night, and brings his A game, year after year after year. That’s when you’ve really made it. You can be in physically great shape, skill wise unbelievable, but you haven’t really done anything until you can be mentally tough and have an even keel.”
“A lot of people want to settle for where the bar is. The ones who go to the very top of the mountain are always constantly challenging themselves to do more than what they thought they could do.”
“Don’t let the mind tell the body what it can’t do.”
“If you can’t keep a promise to your self, who can you keep one to?”
“Let experiences pass through you. You’re supposed to feel them but don’t hold on to them and let them dictate your life. “
“It’s amazing how we can let joy and happiness pass through us but we hold onto pain, anger and resentment. It defines us if we allow it to.”
“There are two lives we live: the one we learn from and the one we choose to live with what we’ve learned.” from one of his favorite movies, The Natural
“To know and not to do is to never to know at all.”