Donato stayed close to home when joined the Harvard Crimson for the 1987-88 season. He had a fine freshman season with 26 points in 28 games as well as playing for the United States at the 1988 World Junior Championships, scoring 5 points in 7 games for the Americans.
During his sophomore season, Donato scored 14 goals but elevated his point total to 51 in 34 games thanks to 37 assists, nearly three times as many as he had as a freshman. Donato also got to lift the Beanpot trophy when Harvard won the 1989 Beanpot Tournament, which takes place annually among the four Boston based colleges and universities, Harvard, Northeastern, Boston College and Boston University
Harvard had an excellent 27-3-0 record that season to win the ECAC regular season championship and an NCAA berth. In the national playoffs, the Crimson defeated the Lake Superior State Lakers 9 goals to 4 in the Quarterfinals and then defeated the Michigan State Spartans 4-3 in overtime to advance the NCAA title game, a true classic where they would win their first, and to date only, national championship with another 4-3 win in overtime against the Minnesota Golden Gophers, overcoming the fact they were playing in front of thousands of Minnesota's fans in St. Paul at the Civic Center. Following the tournament, Donato was named the tournament's Most Outstanding Player.
During the 1992 Olympics in Albertville, France, Donato had 4 goals and 7 points in 8 games played.
With the Olympics concluded, Donato made his NHL debut with the Bruins, playing in 10 regular season games, which included scoring his first NHL goal. He then played in all 15 of Boston's playoff games, contributing 7 points.
He then played in 82 of Boston's 84 games in 1992-93, with 15 goals and 35 points. He followed that by setting a career high in points during the 1993-94 season with 22 goals and 54 points, playing in all 84 of the Bruins games, as this was the era of the neutral site games, which bumped the schedule from the usual 82 up to 84 games for both the 1992-93 and 1993-94 seasons.
With the 1994-95 season delayed by labor issues, Donato made his way to Finland and kept in game shape by playing 14 games for TuTo Turku in the SM-Liiga. While in Finland, Donato contributed 10 points and 47 penalty minutes, nearly five times more than he would have in three times as many games when he returned to Boston after the lockout ended! Back with the Bruins, Donato would have 10 goals and 10 assists for 20 points with just 10 penalty minutes in 47 games.
Donato would take a run at setting a new personal high in goal in each of the next two seasons. He would have his second and third 20 goal seasons with 23 goals and and 49 points in 1995-96 and then set a career high with 25 goals in 1996-97 on his way to 51 points despite being limited to 67 games that season. He was healthy in time to play for the United States once more, this time at the 1987 World Championships, where he tied for the team lead with 4 goals and 6 points in 8 games.
His numbers regressed in 1997-98 to 16 goals and 39 points, and then after a slow start to the 1998-99 season, scoring just one goal and 4 points in 14 games, Donato was traded to the New York Islanders in early November of 1998. He would play just 55 games with the Islanders, scoring 18 points, before a trade in late March saw him crossing the border into Canada to join the Ottawa Senators for the final 13 games of the season. All the upheaval did not do his game any favors, and his combined season stats were 11 goals and 27 points in 82 games.
Donato was on the move again for the 1999-00 season, this time across the continent as he was dealt to the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim. He would play in 81 games that season, scoring 11 goals on his way to 30 points.
Donato signed as a free agent with the Dallas Stars for the 2000-01 season. There, he saw action in 65 games, scoring 25 points.
For the 2001-02 season, Donato signed as a free agent with the Islanders in mid-January of 2002, but eventually only played one game with New York and another with their top American Hockey League affiliate, the first season Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
He was claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Kings on January 28th and was assigned to the Manchester Monarchs of the AHL. There, he played 36 games with a fine 18 goals and 43 points. He did see action in two games for Los Angeles but was waived once more, this time being claimed by the St. Louis Blues on March 19th in time to play two games for the Blues. In all, Donato played in five cities that season but failed to register a point in just five NHL games.
Despite his unsettled professional season, Donato was able to participate in the 2002 World Championships for the US, contributing a goal and 4 points in 7 games in his final international competition, which was enough to tie for second in team scoring.
Looking to revive his NHL career, Donato signed as a free agent once again, this time with the New York Rangers for the 2002-03 season. He would play in 49 games in Manhattan in a defensive role, as he only scored 2 goals and an assist. He was able to demonstrate the offensive part of his game with the Hartford Wolf Pack in the AHL, scoring 8 goals and 20 points in 18 games.
He returned home for the 2003-04 season, signing with the Bruins where his NHL career began. Playing the same checking role as he had with the Rangers, he did manage 6 goals and 11 points in 63 games with Boston. During the season he also saw action in 15 games for the Providence Bruins scoring 12 points in the AHL. Donato was back in Boston for the playoffs, playing the final two games of his career in the postseason.
His final NHL totals were 796 games played with 150 goals and 197 assists for 347 points, the majority of those with the Bruins.
Donato may have retired as a player, but he was never out of hockey, as in the summer following his final NHL season, he accepted the head coaching position at Harvard and just finished his 13th season guiding the Crimson with a Frozen Four appearance.
Today's featured jersey is a 1993-94 Boston Bruins Ted Donato jersey from the season when he set a career high with 54 points.
This classic Bruins style first arrived on the scene in 1974-75 when Boston removed the colored shoulders from their black road jerseys. In 1976-77, the secondary logos were added to the shoulders and names on the back arrived the following season. This style remained in use through the 1994-95 season, their final one at the historic Boston Garden.
Bonus jersey: Today's bonus jersey is a 1996-97 Boston Bruins Ted Donato jersey from the season the NHL first introduced third jerseys. Five teams, Anaheim, Boston, Los Angeles, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Vancouver Canucks, would all debut alternate jerseys. While the Kings and Mighty Ducks jerseys would last no more than six games, the would be worn for 10 seasons through the 2005-06 season (not counting the 2004-05 season which was cancelled).
Extra bonus jersey: Today's extra bonus jersey is a 2000-01 Dallas Stars Ted Donato jersey worn during his only season with the Stars.
This jersey was introduced as the Stars third jersey in 1997-98 and became the team's primary road jersey two seasons later after being worn during the 1999 playoffs as Dallas would go on to win the Stanley Cup. This jersey style would remain in use through the 2005-06 season until the Stars got a new set of jerseys with the arrival of the new Reebok Edge jerseys in 2007-08.
This jersey was based on the design of the 1994-1997 NHL All-Star jerseys and was a perfect fit for Dallas and easily one of our favorite jerseys in league history. An instant "gotta have it" at first sight.
Sharp eyed readers will notice the bottom points of the star on the front of the jersey are clipped, as the bottom couple of inches of the jersey were folded upwards and sewn down to shorten the length of the jersey at Donato's request.
In today's video section, Donato scores on a breakaway against the New Jersey Devils.