|Position: Right Wing
Born: September 23, 1969
Birthplace: Laval, Quebec, Canada
Height: 5'8" Weight: 184 lbs.
Drafted by Buffalo, 9th Round, 183rd Overall, 1989
NHL Entry Draft
Seasons with Buffalo: 1989-90 to 1997-98, 2000-01
Uniform Numbers: 45, 28
|Donald Audette played his junior hockey with the Laval Titan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Although a small player even by major-junior standards, he developed into a hard working winger with the toughness and grit necessary to score goals in close around the crease. Audette entered the NHL Entry Draft in 1988, and despite having put up excellent numbers for Laval during the 1987-88 season (48 goals and 61 assists in 63 games played), went undrafted.
Audette continued his stellar play with Laval the following season, posting even more impressive stats. During the 1988-89 season, Audette scored 76 goals and 85 assists, finishing third in the QMJHL in both goals and total points. Audette was back in the pool for the 1989 Entry Draft. Still, despite his stellar junior numbers, teams shied away from his because of his diminuitive stature. Finally, in the 9th Round of the Draft, Buffalo Sabres General Manager Gerry Meehan took a chance and drafted Audette.
Audette was assigned to Buffalo's American Hockey league affiliate, the Rochester Americans, for the 1989-90 season. Once again, he proved that despite his lack of size
|1991-92: Fred T. Hunt Memorial Trophy (Sabres Rookie of the Year)|
|he could put the puck in the net. In 70 games for the Amerks that year, Audette scored 42 goals and 46 assists, finishing the season third on the team in goals and second in total points. He played in 15 Playoff games for the Amerks, finishing second on the team in Playoff scoring. He made his NHL debut in the 1990 Stanley Cup Playoffs, appearing in two games with the Sabres. At season's end, he was named to the AHL's First All-Star Team and awarded with the Dudley "Red" Garret Memorial Trophy, as the AHL's Rookie of the Year. He was also named the Rochester Americans' Most Popular Player.|
|Audette missed the first month-and-a-half of the 1992-93 season, still recovering from off-season surgery to repair his damaged knee. He returned to action on November 27, 1992, but slowed by the consecutive knee injuries, was only able to generate 12 goals and 7 assists in 44 games played during the season.
In 1993-94, Audette rebounded from the disappointing 1992-93 season, scoring 29 goals and 30 assists and playing in a career-high 77 games. He finished the season 3rd on the team in goals and total points. His 16 power play goals was second on the team behind just Alexander Mogilny. He also scored his first career short-handed goal on October 9, 1993 against Montreal goaltender Patrick Roy.
|In 1997-98, Audette led the team in goals for the second straight year, scoring 24. He also led the team with 10 powerplay goals, and was third in total points. In the 1998 Playoffs, Audette tied teammate Matthew Barnaby with 13 points to lead the team in scoring. He scored the series-clinching goal in Game Four of Buffalo's second round series against the Montreal Canadiens, sending the Sabres to the Eastern Conference Finals. He also tied a franchise record held by Dale Hawerchuk by recording an 8 game playoff point scoring streak.
At the end of the 1997-98 season, Audette's contract with the Sabres had come to an end. When his agent and the Sabres failed to agree to terms, Audette sat out the start of the 1998-99 season. While Audette's agents and the Sabres came to an agreement on the finances of the contract, they came to an impasse on the terms of the deal. The team wanted the second and third years of the deal to be option years, where they would decide whether or not to honor the agreement based on Audette's performance. Audette's camp disagreed with the team's option, and refused to sign the deal. The contract
|Audette started the 1999-2000 season in Los Angeles, scoring 12 goals and 20 assists in 46 games played. At the trading deadline in March, 2000, the Kings traded Audette to the expansion Atlanta Thrashers. Audette finished out the 1999-2000 season in Atlanta, scoring 7 goals in his 14 games there.|
|At the end of the 2001 Playoffs, Audette and the Sabres parted ways again, this time via free agency. An unrestricted free agent, Audette signed with the Dallas Stars on July 2, 2001. His stay in Dallas would be short, as he was unable to perform in coach Ken Hitchcock's defensive-minded system. A healthy scratch for several games throughout the opening two months of the season, Audette played in just 20 games as a Star, accounting for 4 goals and 8 assists.
On November 21, 2001, Audette was traded to the Montreal Canadiens, where it was hoped he'd find more success than he had in Dallas. In Montreal, Audette got out of the gate quickly, racking up 5 points in his first 5 games. On December 1, 2001, during a game in Montreal against the New York Rangers, as Audette was chasing a loose puck in the New York zone, he dove, extending his left arm. As Rangers right wing Radek Dvorak, who was also chasing the puck, skated by, his skate came down on the outstretched arm of Audette, severing several tendons in Audette's left wrist.
Audette missed nearly three months recovering from the injury. He returned to the Montreal lineup on March 30, 2002 in a 2-1 Canadiens' win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Audette had an assist on the game-winning goal as the Canadiens beat the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on April 9, 2002 to clinch a Playoff berth. The assist was Audette's only point after returning from the injury to his wrist. The 2001-02 season was a disappointing one for Audette. He finished the year with just 5 goals and 13 assists in 33 games played.
Donald Audette remains a regular in the Monteral lineup going into the 2002 Playoffs. He will likely return for the 2002-03 season, which would be his 13th NHL campaign.
|Did You Know?|
|Donald Audette once served as Captain of the Sabres. On April 18, 1998, when Sabres Captain Michael Peca was sidelined with a knee injury, Audette was named interim Captain for Buffalo's game against the Montreal Canadiens.|
|In the fall of 1990, Audette was set to make the jump to the big league. He started the season in Rochester, but by the middle of October he got the call from the Sabres. Audette made his NHL regular season debut on October 19, 1990 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. He didn't waste much time getting his name on the score sheets, scoring his first NHL goal the following night, on the road against the New York Islanders. Audette was on his way to winning a job with the Sabres, racking up 7 points in his first eight games when he was sidelined with a season-ending knee injury on November 16, 1990 in Edmonton.
Audette was back in Buffalo for the 1991-92 season, where he scored 31 goals, leading the team with 6 game-winning goals. Unfortunately, Audette suffered another setback that year, when another knee injury suffered in March kept him out of the lineup for the last month of the season and the entire 1992 Playoffs. Despite having missed 17 games with the injury, Audette finished the season 4th on the team in goals, and 5th in points. Among NHL rookies, Audette finished 3rd in goals scored, 7th in points, and was tied for the rookie lead in power play goals scored. At the end of the season, Audette was awarded with the Fred T. Hunt Memorial Trophy, given annualy to the Sabres' Rookie of the Year.
|The labor dispute that shortened the 1995 season did nothing to slow Audette down. That year led the team for the first time in his career with 24 goals, and finished second on the team in total points. He was also tied for second in the league with 13 power play goals and 7 game-winning goals. On March 30, 1995, Audette scored his first NHL hat-trick against the Ottawa Senators.
The 1995-96 season was another trying one for Audette, as injuries kept him in and out of the lineup for the first half of the season. He managed to get in 23 games aruond his various injuries. Audette played well when he was able to perform, scoring 12 goals and 13 assists. He netted his second hat-trick on November 8, 1995, scoring 3 times in the 2nd period of a game against the San Jose Sharks. Mid-way through the season, Audette blew out the ACL in his right knee, and missed the remainder of the season recovering from reconstructive surgery. In what was to be a disappointing season all-around for Sabres fans, Audette missed 48 games, and the Sabres finished out of the Playoffs for the first time since 1986-87.
Audette was back in the lineup for the start of the 1996-97 season, picking up where he left off before his most recent knee injury. After the dreadful 1995-
|96 season, the 1996-96 version was a pleasant surprise, amassing 94 points to win the Northeast Division. It was Buffalo's first division championship since they won the Adams Division in 1980-81. Audette was the team's leading goal scorer for the second time in his career, scoring 28 goals in 73 games played. He was third in points, and led the team with 8 power play goals. He was among the team's leading scorers in the 1997 Playoffs, scoring 4 goals and 5 assists as the Sabres advanced to the second round for the first time since 1993 before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.|
|dispute dragged on for seven long months before Audette decided he'd had enough, and demanded to be traded. Sabres GM Darcy Regier honored his request, and on December 12, 1998, sent Audette to the Los Angeles Kings for a second round pick in the 1999 Draft (which Regier used to pick Milan Bartovic).
Audette finished the 1998-99 season with Los Angeles. When the Kings came to the Marine Midland Arena in January of 1999, it was Audette who scored the only Kings goal in their 4-1 loss to the Sabres. Though he sat out nearly half of the season, Audette still managed to finish the season second on the team on both goals an points with 18 and 36 respectively.
|In 2000-01, Audette enjoyed the best offensive year of his career. Audette was selected to play for the North American team at the 2001 All-Star Game, the first All-Star selection of his career. He was well on his way to leading the Thrashers in goals, scoring 32 in 64 games played, when at the trading deadline in March, 2001, he was traded again, this time back to the Buffalo Sabres.|
|The trade, which sent prospect Kamil Piros and a fourth round 2001 draft pick to the Thrashers, came on March 13, 2001. Though there have been many "two-time Sabres," Audette was the first in team history to leave the Sabres via a trade, and then rejoin the club by way of a trade.
In Buffalo, Audette found less ice time and more defensive responsibility then he had with the free-wheeling Thrashers. As a result, his goal scoring fell off. While he was scoring at a goal every other game pace in Atlanta, in 12 games with the Sabres down the stretch run, Audette scored just two goals. He finished the season with a career-high 34 goals between Atlanta in Buffalo, which would have been enough to give him the Sabres lead, had he played the entire season there. The Sabres leading goal scorer, Miroslav Satan, finished the season with just 29. He also compiled a career-high 79 points in 76 games played between Atlanta and Buffalo.
The move from Atlanta to Buffalo gave Audette the chance to play in the 2001 Playoffs, which he would have missed had he stayed in Atlanta. Audette played in all 13 games for the Sabres, scoring 3 goals and 6 assists as the team advanced to the second round before losing to the Pittsburgh Pengiuns.
|Audette lifts the puck over Philadelphia goaltender Roman Cechmanek during Game Four of the 2001 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Photo Credit: David Duprey