Brian Lawton

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Brian Lawton
Born (1965-06-29) June 29, 1965 (age 51)
New Brunswick, NJ, USA
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 180 lb (82 kg; 12 st 12 lb)
Position Centre
Shot Left
Played for Minnesota North Stars
New York Rangers
Hartford Whalers
Quebec Nordiques
Boston Bruins
San Jose Sharks
National team  United States
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1983
Minnesota North Stars
Playing career 1983–1993

Brian Robert Lawton (born June 29, 1965) is an American former professional ice hockey player, agent and general manager, who played 483 regular season games in the National Hockey League (NHL) between the 1983–84 and 1992–93 seasons. During his career, Lawton played for the Minnesota North Stars, New York Rangers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks, and was the Tampa Bay Lightning general manager.

Playing career[edit]

After playing for the U.S. Junior Hockey Team, at the World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in 1983,[1] and leading his high school, Mount Saint Charles Academy in Woonsocket, Rhode Island,[2] to consecutive championships,[3] Brian Lawton was the first-overall draft pick by the North Stars in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft.[4] Lawton is noted for being the first US-born hockey player drafted first-overall in the NHL draft.[5] He was also the first and, as of 2014, the only US high school hockey player to be drafted first-overall.[6]

Lawton was ranked by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau as the top prospect for the 1983 Entry Draft. Despite a reasonable NHL career that included 266 career points in 483 games, Lawton is considered to be a draft bust.[7] This is mainly in part because he was drafted ahead of players such as Steve Yzerman, Cam Neely, Tom Barrasso, and Pat LaFontaine,[8] in a draft in which LaFontaine[9] and Yzerman[10] were expected by others to go higher than Lawton. Detroit Red Wings general manager Jim Devellano, who drafted Yzerman that year, later speculated that had Minnesota drafted Yzerman themselves, paired with Dino Ciccarelli, that might have saved the franchise from later moving and becoming the Dallas Stars.[10] In 1985, Minnesota general manager Lou Nanne admitted that drafting Lawton first overall might have been a mistake, saying, "If I had it to do over again, I'd take Barrasso."[4]

Lawton struggled during his first couple of years in Minnesota, and split his second season between the North Stars and their American Hockey League affiliate, the Springfield Indians.[11] In 1983, Lawton was training with the U.S. National Hockey Team,[12] but unlike other North Stars prospects, Lawton was encouraged to turn professional ahead of the 1984 Winter Olympics, and though he did later play in the 1984 Canada Cup, missed the extra experience playing in Sarajevo would have afforded him.[4] Lawton also later played for the United States team at the 1987 Championships.[1]

Adopting it during his rookie season, Lawton was the only NHL player to ever wear the number 98,[13] drawing unwelcome comparisons to Wayne Gretzky's number 99, and he switched to number 8 after two seasons.[4] Lawton set a mark for the North Stars franchise for fastest two goals scored by a rookie, at 19 seconds, in 1983.[14] After five seasons with Minnesota, Lawton had not scored more than 44 points in any season, and the North Stars apparently washed their hands of him, attempting to assign him to their affiliate in Kalamazoo, Michigan. When Lawton refused to report, the North Stars traded him to the New York Rangers in October 1988.[14] Halfway through the 1988–89 NHL season, the Rangers traded him again, to Hartford, and Lawton would go on to play in eight different cities over the next four years.[11] Lawton would later say that being moved around as often as he was, was a factor in his performance over the years, and an aspect of the game that he never enjoyed.[3]

Post-playing career[edit]

Lawton retired as a player in 1993, after being traded to the New Jersey Devils by San Jose,[11] yet never playing for the Devils. He started his company, Lawton Sport and Financial, right away, and at the time of the company's purchase by Octagon Athlete Representation in 1998, represented 12 players in the NHL.[15][16] At times representing players such as Mike Modano, Sergei Fedorov and Ryan Malone,[17] Lawton became Octagon's managing director for hockey,[18] helping Octagon expand their hockey client base and becoming the second-largest hockey agency in the NHL.[16][18]

Lawton left Octagon in 2008 in order to pursue management opportunities in the NHL,[17] having known since his playing days that he ultimately wanted to be in management.[3] After interviewing for management positions with a number of teams,[17] caught the attention of then-new Tampa Bay Lightning owners Len Barrie and Oren Koules, by approaching them with a prepared 46-page proposal for how to improve the then-last place team.[3][17] On June 25, 2008, Lawton was named Vice President of Hockey Operations for the Lightning,[18] and while Jay Feaster remained in the position of general manager until resigning in July, it was Lawton, along with Koules and Barrie, who were making the decisions.[19] Feaster himself indicated in his official announcement that Lawton had already been running the team with Koules and Barrie.[20] Lawton was officially named as general manager and executive vice president on October 2, 2008.[21] Among the earliest moves Lawton made with the Tampa organization were hiring Tom Kurvers and Greg Malone to front office positions,[17] and acquiring and signing Gary Roberts and Ryan Malone,[22] the latter of whom is the son of Greg Malone, and was also a client of Lawton's when he was an agent.[17]

Lawton was dismissed as general manager on April 12, 2010 and replaced, on an interim basis, by Tom Kurvers, a Lawton hire.[23] Ultimately, Steve Yzerman was named as the new general manager, ironically enough, a former client of Lawton's.[24] Lawton married in 1992 to Angelina Rahn. They currently reside in Minneapolis, Minnesota and have three children. Angelina is the CEO of sports/tech agency, Sportsdigita.

Lawton is currently an on-air analyst for the NHL Network.

Career statistics[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1983–84 Minnesota North Stars NHL 58 10 21 31 33 5 0 0 0 10
1984–85 Minnesota North Stars NHL 40 5 6 11 24
1984–85 Springfield Indians AHL 42 14 28 42 37 4 1 1 2 2
1985–86 Minnesota North Stars NHL 65 18 17 35 36 3 0 1 1 2
1986–87 Minnesota North Stars NHL 66 21 23 44 86
1987–88 Minnesota North Stars NHL 74 17 24 41 71
1988–89 New York Rangers NHL 30 7 10 17 39
1988–89 Hartford Whalers NHL 35 10 16 26 28 3 1 0 1 0
1989–90 Maine Mariners AHL 5 0 0 0 14
1989–90 Hartford Whalers NHL 13 2 1 3 6
1989–90 Quebec Nordiques NHL 14 5 6 11 10
1989–90 Boston Bruins NHL 8 0 0 0 14
1990–91 Phoenix Roadrunners IHL 63 26 40 66 108 11 4 9 13 40
1991–92 San Jose Sharks NHL 59 15 22 37 42
1992–93 Kansas City Blades IHL 9 6 4 10 10
1992–93 San Jose Sharks NHL 21 2 8 10 12
1992–93 Cincinnati Cyclones IHL 17 5 11 16 30
NHL totals 483 112 154 266 401 11 1 1 2 12


  1. ^ a b "Brian R. Lawton". Legends of Hockey. Hockey Hall of Fame. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  2. ^ Sullivan, Robert (21 January 1985). "A New England High School Has All The Right Stuff". Sports Illustrated. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c d Cristodero, Damian (2 August 2008). "New detailer goes to work on Lightning". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  4. ^ a b c d Falla, Jack (4 March 1985). "The North Stars Are Going South". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  5. ^ "Kane becomes second straight U.S.-born player selected first". 23 June 2007. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  6. ^ "Hockey in the United States". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  7. ^ "Drafted No. 1 in the NHL is no guarantee of stardom for top prospect". The Hockey News. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  8. ^ "1983". Draft Search. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  9. ^ Falla, Jack (28 March 1983). "A New Departure Toward Arrival". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on 4 November 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  10. ^ a b "Dino Ciccarelli says goal total might be a bit less before going in the Hall". The Hockey News. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  11. ^ a b c "Brian Lawton". player search. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Quazzo, Marco L. (6 July 1983). "Fuscos Chosen for U.S. Hockey Team". The Harvard Crimson. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  13. ^ Kreiser, John. "Some of hockey's best players from No. 67 to No. 99". History. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  14. ^ a b "Brian Lawton". 1983 ENTRY DRAFT. Hockey Draft Central. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  15. ^ "Octagon vaults to top of hockey". Sports Business Journal. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  16. ^ a b Goode, Jon (2 May 2004). "Taking the high Rhode". Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  17. ^ a b c d e f Russo, Michael (1 August 2008). "Agent-turned-exec Lawton hits the ground running". Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  18. ^ a b c "Brian Lawton Named Vice President of Hockey Operations of Tampa Bay Lightning". Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved 18 April 2011. 
  19. ^ "Lawton Named Bolts General Manager". Tampa Bay Online / Tampa Bay Tribune. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  20. ^ "Lightning General Manager Jay Feaster Resigns". Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "Brian Lawton Named Vice President of Hockey Operations of Tampa Bay Lightning". Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  22. ^ "Lightning Acquire Rights To Ryan Malone, Gary Roberts". Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  23. ^ "General Manager Brian Lawton and Head Coach Rick Tocchet to Be Replaced". Tampa Bay Lightning. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 
  24. ^ "Yzerman named Lightning GM". Retrieved 19 April 2011. 

External links[edit]

Preceded by
Gord Kluzak
NHL first overall draft pick
Succeeded by
Mario Lemieux
Preceded by
Brian Bellows
Minnesota North Stars first round draft pick
Succeeded by
David Quinn
Preceded by
Jay Feaster
General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning
Succeeded by
Tom Kurvers