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May 22, 2016

Brad Lauer

The New York Islanders dynasty of the early 1980s was arguably the greatest team in hockey history. The Islanders won four consecutive Stanley Cup titles and won a record 19 consecutive playoff series in the process. It is one of the most impressive feats in hockey history.

By the mid-1980s the Islanders were trying their best to stay near the top of the hockey world. That meant bringing in an influx of youth while the original core was still there. Joining the Mike Bossy, Denis Potvin, Bryan Trottier and Billy Smith were a new generation including Pat Lafontaine, Patrick Flatley, Kelly Hrudey and Derek King.

Another player the Islanders had high hopes for was their 2nd round pick (34th overall) from 1985 - Brad Lauer.

Lauer was a proud Saskatchewaner, born in Humboldt and starring with the Notre Dame Huskies and Regina Pats. He grew up idolizing Bernie Federko and worked at Barry Melrose's hockey school. Throw in a CFL Saskatchewan Roughriders hat and you have the perfect Saskatchewan boy.

Lauer was the prototypical big and strong forward out of Western Canada that the Islanders loved. He was an up and down winger who could hit with the best of them. It was hoped with some experience he would replace dynasty cornerstones like Clark Gillies and Bob Bourne.

Ultimately it did not work out for Lauer and the Islanders. He lacked an extra gear of speed and lacked creativity with the puck at the NHL level. 

Lauer was still on track to be a solid NHLer when missed the vast majority of the 1988-89 season with a broken knee cap courtesy of a Mark Howe shot. He was already an average skater by NHL standards and the injury did not help.

Perhaps the Islanders rushed Lauer in too quickly. He jumped immediately from junior to the NHL in 1986. He could have used a season or two of development in the minor leagues to fulfill his promise.

Lauer gradually lost his spot with the Islanders in the three seasons following the kneecap injury. He eventually bounced around with Chicago, Ottawa and Pittsburgh though mostly became a solid minor league player until the turn of the century.

Through all the travels and tribulations, Lauer learned a lot. Most of all he learned he liked helping teach others the lessons he learned. He has become a very successful assistant coach in the junior leagues, the minor leagues and the National Hockey League.

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