October 31, 2013

1994 Vancouver Canucks: Nathan Lafayette And That Damn Goal Post

The following is an excerpt from my unreleased book: Remembering The 1994 Vancouver Canucks. Please see below for the full table of contents.

To this day I lament Nathan LaFayette and his goal post.

Whenever something really good is about to happen in my life or my work or in hockey but then unexpectedly falls through or at least threatens to fall through, I often mutter something like “It’s the LaFayette goal post all over again.”My co-workers don’t get it, and I generally just leave it unexplained now. My girlfriend and her kids have had it explained to them a few times. I suspect they tune me out each and every time.

Of course, you Canucks fans need no introduction to this. June 14th, 1994. Madison Square Gardens. The game is in the third period of game 7 with the New York Rangers clinging to a 3-2 lead. The Canucks are pressing hard, clearly dominating the third period. If we could only tie it up, I figure, the game is ours. We are playing too well. We are overwhelming them. Get it into overtime and we will win it then. We will win the Stanley Cup!

That moment finally comes. With about six minutes left in the game, Geoff Courtnall turns from the corner and wildly passes the puck into the slot. Enter 21 year old rookie Nathan LaFayette – perhaps the least likely Canucks player to be a Stanley Cup hero. As if he flashed in from out of nowhere LaFayette burst through the Rangers’ defense and immediately wired a hard shot on net. The television announcers were certain Mike Richter actually made an unthinkable glove save. Richter was so good that series that I believed he did, too. But no, Nathan LaFayette had actually beaten Richter. But he could not beat the goal post.

Had Nathan LaFayette’s shot been half an inch to the inside of that post, the Canucks surely would have won that game. I am completely certain of it to this day.

Instead the puck frittered away harmlessly. In a split second I went – we all went – from the brink of complete elation to being utterly disheartened. The chance had come and gone. We all knew it. I am certain the players knew it right then and there. The hockey gods – those cruel, cruel hockey gods – refused to smile on the Canucks again.

Nathan LaFayette had a lengthy pro hockey career, including a couple hundred games in the National Hockey League. But in Vancouver he will always be known as the guy who hit the goal post.

June 11th/14th, 1994 - The Highs, The Lows

Bure-ing The Flames
The Russian Rocket
Captain Kirk

Shooting Down The Stars
The Elbow
The Mighty Pat Quinn
Cliff Ronning: The Little Man That Could

Be-Leaf It Or Not!
Forever A Canuck: Trevor Linden
Greg Adams! Greg Adams!

New York: All The World Is A Stage
The Penalty Shot
Nathan Lafayette And That Damn Goal Post
What A Mess!
Doug Lidster: The Lone Ranger
It Was A Riot!

June 15th, 2011: Looking Back At 1994

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