Monday, March 21, 2011
Known for his powerful slapshot, Al Iafrate was born on this date in 1966 in Michigan. During the 1983-84 season, Iafrate played 61 games for the United States National Team, which included competing at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo, Yugoslavia. Following the Olympics, Iafrate finished the season with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL prior to being drafted 4th overall by the Toronto Maple Leafs that spring., making him the first US born player ever selected by the Maple Leafs in the first round.
Iafrate made the Maple Leafs roster that fall, and completed his 12 year NHL career without ever having played a single game in the minor leagues, not even on a rehab assignment despite the many injuries that would plague the later stages of his career.
During his first three seasons with the Maple Leafs, Iafrate scored 21, 33 and then 30 points prior to taking his offensive game to a new level with 52 points in 1987-88 when his powerful slapshot found the back of the net on 22 occasions, up from a previous high of 9. After dropping back to 33 points in 1988-89, he set a new career best with 21 goals and 63 points in 1989-90. Also in 1990 he gained recognition by winning the Hardest Shot competition at the SuperSkills event as part of the NHL All-Star weekend with a shot clocked at 96 mph.
After 42 games of the following season, Iafrate was traded to the Washington Capitals. He was a vital member of the Capitals power play, which resulted in a jump in points to 51, up from 32 the year prior. During the 1992-93 season, he would set a career highs with 25 goals and 66 points. His year would also include winning the Hardest Shot contest at the NHL All-Star Game SuperSkills event once again with a blast of 105.2 miles per hour, a mark that would remain the standard for 16 years!
After scoring 45 points in 67 games for the Capitals in 1993-94, Iafrate was on his way to join the Boston Bruins for the final 12 games of the regular season and a run at the playoffs, which saw him play and additional 13 games for Boston. During that season's All-Star weekend, he would win his third Hardest Shot competition with a drive clocked at 102.7 mph.
Iafrate would miss the entire 1994-95 and 1995-96 seasons while recovering from knee surgery. He was traded to the San Jose Sharks at the 1996 NHL Entry Draft before he could resume playing for the Bruins, but his playing time as again limited due to injuries. Iafrate would play 59 games for the Sharks over two seasons.
At the conclusion of the 1997-98 season, he would compete for the United States at the World Championships for the only time in his career. He then announced his retirement from the game in September of that year.
Iafrate would total 799 NHL games, 152 goals and 311 assists for 463 points. Additionally, he would be whistled for 1,301 penalty minutes.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Washington Capitals Al Iafrate jersey which features the Capitals 20th Anniversary patch, barely able to fit on the front due to the number of stars filling the front of the Capitals jerseys like no other.
The Capitals wore their star-spangled jerseys from the time of their NHL debut in 1974 through the 1994-95 season when they stopped wearing their classic red, white and blue jerseys and changed to a new blue and black color scheme.
Bonus Jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1986-87 Toronto Maple Leafs Al Iafrate jersey. This jersey features the King Clancy Memorial patch on the upper left arm.
The Maple Leafs adopted this style in 1970 and wore it through the 1991-92 season until adopting a new style based on the jerseys they originally wore from the 1930's to the 1960's.
Today's video segment is a compilation of goals scored by Iafrate with his powerful slapshot, as well as setting his long standing record in the hardest shot competition through the power of the mullet.