Sometimes the call comes from the parent of a youth hockey player battling with Post-Concussion Syndrome. LaFontaine, now 45 and living in New York, is a youth hockey parent himself. He coaches his 15-year-old son's team, the Long Island Royals, with the help of former Islanders wing Steve Webb.
Sometimes it's a member of the United States armed forces on the other end of the phone. Dr. James Kelly, the physician who cleared LaFontaine after his first major concussion and convinced him to retire after his final one, now works with the military in the treatment of soldiers with traumatic brain injuries. When Kelly needs the eternally optimistic LaFontaine to speak with a patient, the Hockey Hall of Famer always takes the call.
Not a week goes by without LaFontaine offering counsel to victims of concussions. No matter whom he is advising, LaFontaine's message is consistent.
"Make sure you are not having any recurring symptoms before you're active again," LaFontaine said. "Do not go back on the ice, do not go back to work, until you are 100 percent cleared and symptom-free. Once you have a concussion and return, that's when the real damage can be done."
LaFontaine, who suffered five concussions in his abbreviated but spectacular NHL career of 1,013 points in 865 regular season games, considers his counseling "an ongoing commitment." Although he does not work for the NHL or one of its 30 clubs -- he runs his own charitable foundation, Companions in Courage -- LaFontaine takes pride in helping athletes of all skill levels that have endured Post-Concussion Syndrome.
"The NHL is the best hockey league in the world," he said. "The NHL should be the standard-bearer for every aspect of the game. The NHL is where everyone looks to set the example for the rest."
When it comes to its work on the treatment of concussions, the NHL receives mixed reviews from LaFontaine.
"I would give the league a good grade for becoming proactive in its research over the last decade," said LaFontaine, a star with the New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Buffalo Sabres whose career ended in 1998 when he was 33 years old. "I still would like to see the league become more forthright in its release of information. I would still like the league to work harder to make sure it is doing everything in its power to prevent head injuries.
"We've seen an average of 75 concussions suffered each season over the last five years," said LaFontaine, reeling off facts like a man who, for good reason, takes this subject highly personally. "We've had 20 already this season, two just reported over the last week. We have to protect the players for life after hockey."
While the NHL has instituted a penalty and supplementary discipline for players guilty of landing hits to the heads of opponents, LaFontaine fears the league has not gone far enough.
"About a decade ago, there was a trend where players were taking out opponents at the knees," he said. "The league, almost immediately, moved to fix the problem. They instituted a rule for 'clipping' and, for the most part, that kind of dangerous hit is out of the game.
"Why can't that be done -- without any gray area -- for head shots? I know the league put in the rule after the hit on Marc Savard, but it doesn't seem definitive enough. Even the broadcasters calling the game do not seem sure of what the NHL now considers legal and illegal. As far as I'm concerned, any hit to the head should be illegal and call for severe punishment. Without question, the league has made some strides, but I want to see zero tolerance."
LaFontaine is acting purely in what he feels is the best interests of the NHL. As one of the greatest American players ever, the civic-minded LaFontaine has always been one of the game's best ambassadors. With the Islanders, Sabres and Rangers, the Michigan native was always cherished by fans for his charitable initiatives as much as his speed and breathtaking moves in the offensive zone.
He will always express his concerns about concussions, but certainly does not want to make waves in his life as a former player -- not as the league and many of its teams partner with Companions in Courage. This season, LaFontaine's foundation is building its high-tech, fun and educational "Lion's Den" rooms at children's hospital wards in Pittsburgh (around the Winter Classic), North Carolina (the 2011 All-Star Game) and Calgary.
"We're very humbled to be able to work with the teams to help the days of children in area hospitals become a little brighter with these Lion's Den rooms," said LaFontaine, who lives with his wife and children on Long Island. "The one in Pittsburgh is going to be our first CiC 'classroom.' It's going to have all of the fun games, but also a smartboard and a lot of things to help children with their education. I can't thank the Penguins and Mario and Nathalie Lemieux enough for their partnership on this really important project."
LaFontaine still plays the game he loves with friends in his backyard rink in his New York home and in charity games across North America. Although he says his health is back to normal after the five concussions in the 1990s, he knows even a minor collision could cause major damage.
"I can't put myself in a compromising position," he said. He also rules out, "jumping out of airplanes and any of that crazy stuff I might have thought about doing after my playing days were over."
With two daughters in college and a son in high school, LaFontaine considers himself fortunate to have played the game at a Hall of Fame level and be healthy enough to take care of his family. That's why, if a parent or player wants to speak with him about concussions, he'll always take the call.
"I've had a blessed life," LaFontaine said. "Whether it's my foundation work or supporting athletes who are going through what I went through, my approach is the same. it's not just an obligation, but a privilege to help people out."