Montreal Canadiens Legend Guy Lafleur Passes At 70

DETROIT, MI - CIRCA 1981: Guy Lafleur #10 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - CIRCA 1981: Guy Lafleur #10 of the Montreal Canadiens. (Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images) /

Montreal Canadiens legend and all-time great Guy Lafleur has left us after a battle with cancer. He was 70. He is survived by his wife Lise and his two sons, Mark and Martin.

Guy Lafleur was simply untouchable. The number one overall pick in 1971 would win 5 Stanley Cups in his remarkable career. He would also be nominated as the greatest QMJHL player of all time in 2019, as well as the Lou Marsh Canadian Athlete of the Year in 1977.

In the 1970’s he was the greatest on the planet. Scoring six consecutive 50-goal seasons and 100 point seasons. Between 1974 and 1980, Lafleur would outpace everyone by at least 80 points, an average of nearly 15 per season.

The Thurso, Quebec native was simply born to play hockey. After dominating the QMJHL with the Quebec Remparts where in two seasons, he would score a ridiculous line of 233 goals, 146 assists for 379 points in only 118 games, he was on his way to begin his legendary career.

Between 1971 and 1974, Lafleur would post some ho-hum statistics for someone of his talent and calibre. He would register 64, 55 and 66 point seasons while scoring 29, 28 and 21 goals. Not bad at all but certainly not what the Canadiens had hoped for.

Sam Pollock made a move a year before the 1971 draft in the hopes of nabbing Guy Lafleur. The legendary general manager made a move in May of 1970 when he traded the Canadiens’ 1st round pick in 1970 alongside Ernie Hicke to the California Golden Seals. In return the Habs would the California’s 1st round pick in 1971, Francois Lacombe and cash. California finished last in 1970 and the Canadiens would draft 1st overall the following season.

An unfamiliar sight to modern fans might be the reason for Lafleur’s “slow” start in the NHL – the helmet. Between 1971 and 1974, Lafleur would wear a helmet, something he admitted hated to wear.

Applying an Internet Time Machine to the Habs Summer of 1974 - Eyes On The Prize
Applying an Internet Time Machine to the Habs Summer of 1974 - Eyes On The Prize /

A clearly uncomfortable image of Lafleur looking vulnerable with that piece of equipment. However at the start of the 1974 season, Lafleur shed the helmet and let fly his golden hair in the wind, earning the nickname Le Demond Blond (The Blonde Demon).

What would follow was a career of 1126 games with Montreal, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques. 560 goals, 793 assists totalling 1353 points. Lafleur stands atop most offensive categories in Canadiens history and sits amongst the greatest of all time in the NHL.

Between the 1975-76 and 1977-78 seasons, Lafleur would win three consecutive Art Ross Trophies (125, 136 and 132 points), three Lester B Pearson Awards, two Hart Trophies (76-77, 77-78) and a Conn Smyth (76-77).

Before Gretzky, Lemieux and his friends came along, at the time, Guy Lafleur was the fastest player to reach 1000 career points, doing so in 720 games. He was also the first player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons.

Lafleur would also win the Canada Cup as a member of Team Canada in 1976.

Lafleur announced his retirement in 1985 after only playing 19 games during the 84-85 season. The six time all-star would see his jersey retire on February 16th, 1985, being only the 5th member of the Canadiens at the time. In 1988 he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Shortly after being inducted and having spent three years in retirement, Lafleur would return to the NHL as a member of the New York Rangers. He would play one season scoring 18 goals and 27 assists for 67 points. He would then get traded to the Quebec Nordiques for a 5th round pick (which would end up being Sergei Zubov) and immediately sign a new contract as a pending free agent, ending his career in his hometown. The Minnesota North Stars would acquire Lafleur via waiver draft in May 1991, hoping Lafleur would play one final season but the Nordiques traded for his rights the following day and Lafleur would then hang up his skates for good as a member of the Nordiques.

Anyone who has seen Lafleur live in person or on TV would have stories of awe to tell you. He was the idol of an entire province and a generation of fans. He simply was one of the greatest of all time.

Rest in Peace # 10. You will be sorely missed.

Guy! Guy! Guy!

A Winning Habit
A Winning Habit /

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