As part of the NHL Centennial Celebration, renowned Canadian artist Tony Harris will paint original portraits of each of the 100 Greatest NHL Players presented by Molson Canadian as chosen by a Blue Ribbon panel. NHL.com will reveal two portraits each Monday in 2017.
This week, the portraits of forwards Pat LaFontaine and Marcel Dionne are unveiled in the 11th installment.
LaFontaine, who played eight seasons with the New York Islanders, six with the Buffalo Sabres and one with the New York Rangers, is the fifth-highest United States-born goal scorer in NHL history, with 468 goals in 865 games.
In his NHL100 profile on LaFontaine, author Kevin Allen says he was an inspiration for American hockey's greatest generation.
"LaFontaine, a 2003 Hockey Hall of Fame inductee, is considered a member of American hockey's greatest generation, a contemporary of players like Mike Modano, Jeremy Roenick, Bill Guerin, Mike Richter, Keith Tkachuk. But he also served as an inspiration for them because he was establishing himself as an American star when they were at impressionable ages.
When LaFontaine broke into the NHL, Tkachuk was 11, Guerin was 13 and Roenick 14."
Harris said he was hoping to capture two aspects of LaFontaine's game in his portrait.
"I was always fascinated that Pat Lafontaine grew up in the U.S. but came to Quebec to play junior hockey, putting him on the Canadian hockey radar at an early age," he said. "My hope for this portrait was to demonstrate the agility and speed with which he played."
Dionne, who is remembered mostly for his 12 seasons with the Los Angeles Kings, began his career with the Detroit Red Wings and finished the New York Rangers. With 731 career goals, he ranks fifth all time in NHL history.
Author Stu Hackel, in his NHL100 profile, said Dionne is one of the greatest to ever play the game.
"When Dionne was on his game -- and he was on most nights -- even casual fans noticed he was nearly unstoppable. He was, in the words of one of his Kings coaches, Pat Quinn, 'an offensive genius,' darting through traffic with startling ease, creating a scoring chance for a teammate here with a pinpoint pass, or for himself there with a strong, accurate shot on net.
"And his appealing style -- his distinctive and aggressive choppy skating strides, his on-ice vision and anticipation, his ability to pass either forehand or backhand with phenomenal precision and, perhaps most impressively, his consistency to do all that against a league of bigger players -- dominated play and placed him alongside the greatest ever to play the game.
"This is no exaggeration, as his career statistics show: At one time he was the second-highest scorer in NHL history behind only Gordie Howe, after passing Esposito. Wayne Gretzky caught and passed Dionne in January 1989, but when Dionne finished his career that year, he still ranked third in points and assists and second in goals."
Harris said he was thrilled when he found out Dionne had been named to the 100 Greatest NHL Players list for a few reasons.
"It meant that I got to paint the iconic purple and gold uniform of the 1970s LA Kings," he said. "Dionne was an amazing puck-handler so I felt it was important to show him in full control. Puck on the stick, eyes up ready to pass or shoot."