One of hockey’s all time greats Guy Lafleur has died

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ASPartOfMe
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22 Apr 2022, 8:11 am

Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur, one of hockey's flashiest players, dead at 70

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Montreal Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur, who captured five Stanley Cup titles and was a hockey hero in Quebec long before his NHL playing days, has died. He was 70.

The cause of death was not immediately known. However, Lafleur suffered through health issues in the latter stages of his life. In September 2019, he underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery, which was followed by lung surgery two months later.

Then, in October of 2020, he endured a recurrence of lung cancer.

For decades, Lafleur — nicknamed "The Flower" — scored seemingly with ease at all levels of hockey and grew into the role of one of the game's flashiest superstars. He often mesmerized fans with his signature long blond hair flowing behind him as he rushed up the ice before unleashing one of his patented booming slapshots.

By his 10th birthday, there were already signs that Lafleur was a generational talent, skating circles around kids three years his senior at an international peewee hockey tournament in Quebec City.

Guy Damien Lafleur was born on Sept. 20, 1951, in Thurso, Que., a small city in the western part of the province, and grew up idolizing Canadiens great Jean Béliveau.

So it was fitting he made his debut for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1971-72 season, taking the torch from his hero only months after Béliveau wrapped his career by skating off the ice as a Stanley Cup champion for the 10th time in the spring of 1971.

Lafleur's arrival in Montreal, like his departure years later, was controversial. General manager Sam Pollock made a deal with the California Golden Seals to move up in the NHL draft to select Lafleur, passing on another highly touted French Canadian, Marcel Dionne.

Dionne outscored Lafleur in their rookie seasons, leading some fans to think Pollock had made a mistake in selecting Lafleur. But the critics backed off by 1973 as Lafleur hoisted his first Stanley Cup with the franchise.

All doubt was erased in the 1974-75 season when Lafleur broke out with his first of six consecutive seasons with at least 50 goals and 100 points.

He dominated the latter half of the decade, leading the Habs to four consecutive Stanley Cup titles from 1976 to 1979, and won the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player twice during that period. He also captured the 1977 Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

His scoring prowess was so dominating in the late '70s that legendary Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Dick Irvin Jr. called him the greatest player in the world.

Lafleur transcended the sport despite his known habit of smoking cigarettes. Former coach Scotty Bowman said he would even smoke between periods.

Lafleur's relationship with Canadiens management started to sour in the 1980s. He was asked to rein in his free-wheeling style of play in favour of a more defensive style by Hall of Fame linemate and then coach Jacques Lemaire. After the team refused to meet his demand for a trade, he shocked the hockey world when, at only 33 years old, he abruptly announced his retirement weeks into the 1984 season.

For the next three years, Lafleur generally only played publicly in charity hockey events, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.

That same year, New York Rangers general manager Phil Esposito convinced him to come out of retirement and return to the NHL. Lafleur played a season in New York, highlighted by a two-goal performance at the fabled Montreal Forum, resulting in a rare standing ovation for an opposing player. He then played two more years with his hometown Quebec Nordiques before calling it a career for a second and final time following the 1991 season.

In his post-playing career, Lafleur became an ambassador for the Montreal Canadiens and established the Guy Lafleur Award of Excellence, a prize given annually to the top student-athlete hockey player in the province of Quebec.

Today his statue stands outside Montreal's Bell Centre arena alongside Canadiens all-time greats Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard and Béliveau. His No. 10 hangs in the rafters of the arena after being retired on Feb. 16, 1985. At the time it was the sixth number retired by the Canadiens franchise.

Lafleur is still the Canadiens' record holder for points (1,246), assists (728) and game-winning goals (94).


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22 Apr 2022, 6:57 pm

He made a lot of people happy, especially Canadians. He will be sadly missed. :cry:


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23 Apr 2022, 7:57 am

Mike Bossy of the Islanders also passed away.



ASPartOfMe
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23 Apr 2022, 8:44 am

kraftiekortie wrote:
Mike Bossy of the Islanders also passed away.

And Clark Gillies from the same Islanders Dynasty recently passed on.


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