The Montreal Canadiens have entered the quietest time on the calendar. While there is little to look forward to in the month of August, we decided to take a look back at some of the greatest players in franchise history. We continue our site countdown of the five best wingers in Canadiens history with Guy Lafleur.
You can call him “The Flower,” you can call him “Le Démon Blond,” or you can just call him Guy. Either way, you’re talking about one of the greatest players to ever wear a Canadiens sweater. Drafted by the Canadiens first overall in 1971, there was a lot of pressure for Guy Lafleur to perform right away. Jean Beliveau was retiring, and while there was more talent on the team, the Canadiens were looking for a new star to emerge. On top of that, unlike most teams drafting first overall, the Canadiens also had a title to defend. When you talk about a pressure cooker of an environment, this is the pinnacle of that.
Lafleur played his junior hockey for the Quebec Remparts of the QMJHL, where he dominated the competition. In his draft year, he scored 130 goals and 209 points in just 62 games. No, that is not a typo; he really scored over two goals a game. So you can see why the Canadiens selected him with the first pick over Marcel Dionne, who would go on to be a future Hall of Famer himself.
So when Lafleur struggled in his first few seasons in Montreal, at least in comparison to Dionne, the second overall pick, things were not looking great. But going into his fourth season, something clicked for Lafleur, and from that point forward, the best player in the NHL once again resided in Montreal.
Lafleur doubled his point total from his third season in year four, potting 53 goals and 119 points for the Canadiens, but it was the following year where his legacy was truly cemented. In 1975-76, Lafleur would win his first of three consecutive scoring titles and helping lead the Canadiens to their first of four straight Stanley Cups. In 1976-77, he won his first of two successive Hart Trophies as league MVP and added a Conn Smythe for good measure.
At this point, Lafleur was the league’s undisputed best player by a large margin, and he is still, to this day, the last Canadien not wearing goalie gear to win the Hart Trophy and the last Canadien to win an Art Ross Trophy as the league’s top scorer. An entire generation of players has been born, drafted, and retired since a player as gifted as Lafleur has dazzled the fans of Montreal.
Unfortunately, Lafleur didn’t end his career with the Canadiens like some of the legends before him, coming out of retirement at the age of 37 (four years after he initially retired with the Canadiens) to play for the Rangers and the Nordiques for three more seasons.
Some would say Lafleur is even the greatest player to ever play for the Canadiens, and there is certainly an argument for that. Lafleur retired as the Canadiens’ all-time leading scorer with 1,246 points, a record that feels pretty safe today. Known for his outstanding play on the ice and his iconic hair blowing in the wind as he played, it’s safe to say there will never be another Guy, even if his records are eventually broken.