LaFontaine retires

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Another great hockey career ended before its time on Tuesday, when Pat LaFontaine of the New York Rangers retired on doctor's orders.

LaFontaine, 33, sustained the sixth concussion of his career March 16 ending his season. His doctor, neurologist Jim Kelly told him he was at risk for more concussions and suggested he retire.

"If the doctor had cleared me to play, you can bet I would be looking forward to suiting up with the New York Rangers this season," LaFontaine said. "But unfortunately, the doctor would not allow me to play."

LaFontaine played 15 seasons in the NHL with the New York Islanders, the Buffalo Sabres and the Rangers. He played in 865 games scoring 468 goals and 545 assists for 1,013 points. He finishes his career as second in goals by U.S.-born players. Joe Mullen is no.1 with 502 goals.

LaFontaine had one season left in a five-year, $21 million contract. He will receive his salary, $4.8 million, for 1998-99 season. The Rangers will pay $1.6 million and the NHL's insurance company will pay the rest.

"I think I will miss the opportunity to know what it feels like to compete at the highest level," LaFontaine said. "I've always loved that challenge. I'll miss the comraderie of the players. I just hope they put forth the effort so that this doesn't happen to players in the future."

In addition to his NHL career, LaFontaine also played on the 1984 and 1998 U.S. Olympic teams and the 1996 World Cup team. He will now start his life after hockey too soon.

"I've had a lot to think about since talking to my doctor," LaFontaine said. "The National Hockey League has given me a great deal. It's allowed me to live a dream."

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