Born: January 29, 1965
Town: New Brunswick
Brian R. Lawton was born January 29, 1965 in New Brunswick. His father, Richard, moved the family to suburban Rhode Island and worked in the pressroom of the Providence Journal-Bulletin. The ProJo is still the largest newspaper in the state.
Brian attended Mount St. Charles Academy, a Catholic high school outside Providence. The school was founded in the 1920s, when the local area was home to hundreds of Canadian families that had relocated for work in the mills in and around Woonsocket. For that reason, MSC’s hockey program was usually top-notch.
The Mounties had just begun their streak of 26 straight state titles when Brian arrived. Among the 20 Mounties drafted by NHL teams have been Bryan Berard, Mathieu Schneider, Garth Snow and Brian Boucher. The actor Erik Per Sullivan (Dewey on Malcolm in the Middle) also attended Mount St. Charles. During Brian’s four years at the school, the hockey team went 121–3–2.
Brian was the star of the Mounties as a junior and senior, scoring 85 goals in 49 games during those two seasons. In 1982–83, Brian also played for the US Junior team, including an appearance at the 1983 World Championships. In all, Brian scored 6 goals in 14 games for Team USA’s junior squad.
In the spring of 1983 NHL Draft, Brian was selected first overall by the Minnesota North Stars. It marked the first time an American was taken with the first pick, and as of 2011 the only time a US high-schooler has been selected #1. Brian had signed a letter of intent to play for Providence College, but the offer to turn pro was too tempting, so he signed with the North Stars. He made the club in training camp and thus became the first New Jersey-born player to skate in an NHL game.
Although highly rated by scouts, Brian was hardly a clear top pick. In the same draft were Tom Barrasso, Steve Yzerman, Pat LaFontaine and Cam Neely. Brian chose number 98, becoming the first NHL player to wear this uniform. After hearing one too many unfavorable comparisons to #99 (Wayne Gretzky) he switched to #8 in his third season.
Brian played left wing and scored 10 goals as an 18-year-old NHL rookie. His performance fell off in his second season, and he was sent to the minors to develop. Brian returned to become a solid contributor but never attained the superstar status some had predicted. He scored between 15 and 20 goals a year for the North Stars.
Brian was dealt to the New York Rangers before the 1988–89 season, and from there he bounced around the NHL—to Hartford, Quebec, Boston and San Jose. He also spent time with minor-league clubs in Phoenix and Cincinnati before retiring after the 1992–93 season.
Brian stayed in hockey as an agent, handling the affairs of Mike Modano, Seregi Fedorov and others as he merged his agency with Octagon Sports. He had prepared for life after hockey during his playing days by taking real estate classes and college courses, and running a hockey school during the off-season. He also married into the Rahn family, well known for their dealings in the venture capital world. Following the 2007–08 season, Brian accepted a position with the Tampa Bay Lightning and was later named General Manager. He was fired in 2010.