The fracture seems to stem from LaFontaine’s 40-day tenure as an unpaid senior adviser to team owner Charles Wang and his resignation from that post on July 18, 2006. That resignation came just hours after Wang had fired general manager Neil Smith and replaced him with the team’s backup goaltender, Garth Snow. Wang had hired Smith and LaFontaine on the same day, and LaFontaine said in a recent interview that he disagreed with Wang’s decision to fire Smith after less than six weeks.
LaFontaine elected to step down after failing to persuade Wang to reconsider, he said—not necessarily out of loyalty to Smith, but out of concern for the franchise’s direction. “I believe you treat people fairly,” he said, “and stand up for what you believe in.”
Through a team spokesman, Wang declined to comment on the situation. “Pat LaFontaine had a great NHL career and does a lot for the Long Island community,” Wang said in a statement. “We wish him all the best.” Snow declined to comment through a spokesman.
Former Islanders general manager Mike Milbury, who was a member of the team’s board of governors when LaFontaine resigned, said he would understand if Wang still held a grudge against LaFontaine.