Guy Lafleur, dynamic star of the Montreal Canadiens, dies at 70

Guy Lafleur, the dynamic, freewheeling right-winger who led the dynastic Montreal Canadiens to five Stanley Cup championships in the 197...

Guy Lafleur, the dynamic, freewheeling right-winger who led the dynastic Montreal Canadiens to five Stanley Cup championships in the 1970s, including four in a row, died Friday in suburban Montreal. He was 70 years old.

The National Hockey League said the cause was cancer and that Lafleur died in a hospice. A lifelong cigarette smoker, he was diagnosed with lung cancer and underwent quadruple bypass surgery in 2019.

Lafleur, nicknamed “the Flower” by fans, was a magician on the ice, a creative force capable of skillfully splitting defenses and whose offensive impulses had Montreal fans chanting “Guy! Dude! Dude!”

He was the first player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons – a streak that was topped by the 136 points (56 goals and 80 assists) he had in the during the 1976-77 season.

“He liked to shoot high from the side of the glove, and it was a dangerous shot, downright scary,” John Davidson, former New York Rangers goaltender, said Friday in a telephone interview. “When he picked up the puck on the blue line at the Vieux Forum in Montreal and headed out to the rink, you could feel the rush. You would feel people making noise, and that noise would get louder and louder, and people would stand up, whether it scores or not.

The Flower has amassed 560 goals and 793 assists in 17 seasons, including 14 with the Canadiens, one with the Rangers and two with the Quebec Nordiques. In the playoffs, he had 58 more goals and 76 assists.

He won the Art Ross Trophy for leading the league in scoring three times and the Hart Memorial Trophy twice as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada wrote on Twitter that Lafleur “was unlike anyone else on the ice”, adding, “His speed, skill and scoring were hard to believe.”

Lafleur’s death comes a week after that of another top scorer, Mike Bossy of the New York Islanders.

Guy Damien Lafleur was born on September 20, 1951 in Thurso, Quebec to Réjean and Pierette Lafleur. He was so enthralled with hockey as a kid that he would sneak into a local arena on weekday mornings and early Sundays to get some ice time when no one else was around, according to his Hockey Hall of Fame biography.

“When I was a kid, all we saw on TV was the Canadiens, and all I wanted to be was Beliveau,” he told the Hall, referring to the star. longtime Canadians. Jean Beliveau. He dreamed that the Canadians would draft him.

He was spectacular in high level junior hockey, scoring 103 and 130 goals for the Quebec Remparts during the 1969-70 and 1970-71 seasons, and the Canadiens selected him with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Entry Draft. Lafleur said if they hadn’t picked him, he would have signed with the Nordiques, then part of the rival World Hockey Association.

Lafleur joined a Montreal team that had won the Stanley Cup the previous season, but lost Beliveau to retirement and hired a new coach, Scotty Bowman. Lafleur started relatively slowly, scoring 29, 28 and 21 goals in his first three seasons before breaking out with 53 in the 1974–75 season.

With his blonde hair flowing in the days when players routinely wore helmets, Lafleur became a star for a legendary Montreal franchise, an innovator with a stick in his hands.

“He’s not the easiest player to play because he’s all over the ice,” his teammate Steve Shutt said once. “He doesn’t know what he’s going to do, so how do I know?”

Lafleur’s most electric seasons as a scorer, from 1974-75 to 1979-80, almost coincided with the four consecutive years the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup, from 1976 to 1979. During the 1976 playoffs , he was the subject of an alleged kidnapping threat. and protected by security.

In the 1978 Stanley Cup Finals, Boston Bruins head coach Don Cherry ordered his players to raise their sticks against Lafleur in an effort to deter him. They slashed him, causing him to perform with his head covered in bandages, according to an article on The Hockey Writers Website. Lafleur still scored three goals and two assists, and the Canadiens won in six games.

After Lafleur scored 125 points in the 1979-80 season, his production began to drop. Nineteen games into the 1984-85 season, he abruptly retired after scoring just two goals and three assists. He did not get along with the coach, Jacques Lemaire, who regularly benched him, nor with the general manager, Serge Savard.

Lafleur remained retired for the remainder of that season and three more, but just weeks after being inducted into the Hall of Fame in September 1988, he signed to play for the Rangers. At the time, he told the New York Times that his last days with the Canadiens were “the worst times of my life.”

“I had a choice between ulcers at 33 or retirement,” he said.

After a season in New York, he signed with the Nordiques, who joined the NHL in 1979.

“It was a pleasant year in exile in New York”, Lafleur told reporters when he announced his move to the Nordiques. “But now, I would like to end my career in Quebec, where it began.

He played two years with the Nordiques, with modest results, before retiring permanently. He then returned to the Canadiens as a team ambassador.

He is survived by his wife, Lise; his mother; his sons, Martin and Mark; four sisters; and a granddaughter.

In 2008, four bronze statues of great Canadians — Lafleur, Béliveau, Howie Morenz and Maurice (Rocket) Richard — were unveiled at the Bell Centre, the team’s home.

“I prefer to continue playing” laughs Lafleur“than to have a statue.”

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Newsrust - US Top News: Guy Lafleur, dynamic star of the Montreal Canadiens, dies at 70
Guy Lafleur, dynamic star of the Montreal Canadiens, dies at 70
Newsrust - US Top News
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