Even if it was expected, the news of Guy Lafleur passing has been an emotional one for so many people. Much like Maurice Richard and Jean Béliveau before him, the former Canadiens’ player nicknamed le Démon Blond (in French) and the Flower (in English) was so much more than a superstar on the ice. Lafleur was a national icon. He was extremely generous with his time and for that reason, it seems like almost everyone has had their own experience or story with or about him.
Here at Cheering The Logo, we have polled our staff to get their own unique story of what Guy Lafleur has meant to them. As you can imagine, the experiences vary but the ultimate conclusion is the same: he was extremely loved and respected, and had an effect on all of us.
I have never seen Guy play for the Montreal Canadiens in the NHL. I just saw him play in “La tournée des anciens Canadiens”, the old timers’ tour.
They came to the Colisée Isabelle Brasseur at St-Jean-sur-Richelieu. At the time, I was one of the oldest scorekeepers and when I saw a special event, I tried to be the scorekeeper for the game. During the game, I asked the announcer if I could have the mic for one goal. He told me that I could when a popular player like Lafleur or Richer would score. Not for some lesser-known names whom I don’t know.
After two or three goals scored in the game, Guy Lafleur took the puck in the offensive zone and took a shot on goal. Goalllllll ! I looked at the announcer and said: “Give me the mic!” I had never seen him play but I can say that I have announced one of his many goals.
I had invited my step father from Quebec city who absolutely loved Guy. He had the opportunity to take a picture with him and have is autograph. He was really happy and so was I. He was a really great guy.
All my sincere condolences to the family and friends. We have lost a good man.
My first recollections of Guy Lafleur go back to his junior days. I subscribed to The Hockey News back then but the coverage of junior hockey was meager and the stats lines were minimal. But even with that limited coverage Lafleur was making headlines. The buzz in the paper was that Sam Pollock had acquired Oakland’s first round pick and there was a phenom in the Quebec junior league that he was targeting. His name was Guy Lafleur.
Bobby Orr had burst onto the hockey scene by that time and Boston looked like the could be in a position to dominate the league for years to come. Montreal needed their own superstar so the team could challenge there despised rivals. Could Lafleur become that player?
Every week I scoured the back pages of The Hockey News to glean any information that I could. When you lived in rural Saskatchewan in those days, as I did, information on the Canadiens or anything west of Winnipeg in the hockey world was limited. Some weeks the paper infuriatingly didn’t publish junior scoring stats so I had to wait (im)patiently for the next week.
Over the course of the season it became apparent the Lafleur was the real deal as he eventually amassed 130 goals in only 62 games. His future and the future of the Canadiens would be intertwined forever. I couldn’t wait to see him in a Habs’ uniform.
Making the jump out of junior to the NHL was not smooth for Guy, if you can call scoring 29 goals as a 20 year old disappointing! But you could see the flair he brought to the game. He discarded his helmet and the shackles seemed to disappear at the same time. The incredible bursts down right wing with his flowing locks became his identity.
Long before wearing team jerseys became a thing, I went to the local sporting goods store in Lloydminster and bought a white Canadiens jersey and had them stitch the infamous #10 and Lafleur’s name on the back. With Edmonton only a 2 hour drive from Lloyd, I was able to take in a few of Lafleur’s games in the old Northlands Coliseum, proudly wearing my Lafleur jersey. It caught a lot of attention because in those days there were a lot of Canadiens’ fans in the Edmonton stands.
I finally got to meet Lafleur in person long after his playing career. I travelled with a small group of diehard Habs fans from Saskatoon to Calgary. Lafleur was in attendance and it was announced that he would be available to meet some of the fans. I remember a patient, gracious man with warm personality and grip like a blacksmith. After exchanging a few words it was time to move on but the memory remains vivid.
My memories of Guy Lafleur are of him streaking down right wing with his hair flowing famously behind him and unleashing a wicked shot that found the twine. But they are also of that firm handshake and warm smile, patiently taking the time to talk to everyday people like me.
Guy Lafleur was more than a hockey superstar who played and spoke with passion, he was a gentleman. The entire hockey world has lost a true icon of the game. We mourn your loss and will remember you fondly Guy!
Sad day. I must admit that I don’t have the heart to write with all the images and all the tributes that I read today. Deep down inside, I feel like I’ve lost part of my youth with Guy’s departure. An idol on a human scale, with his talent, his qualities and his faults.
I had the pleasure of seeing him play, but even more so of meeting him a few times at his Mike’s restaurant in Berthier. A somewhat humbling experience each time to meet one of his idols, in his new daily life. Friendly, patient, welcoming, endearing.
I got an autograph from Guy, right outside the Montreal Forum, after a Team Canada practice in 1976. I still have it, along other legends… I am now obsessed with the idea of having it frame. That and a picture I took with him and Ti-Guy Emond, a legendary sports reporter from Montreal. I may have one with him and Rick Chartraw too from the glorious consecutive Stanley Cup days. But none of this matters, really. Guy is gone and a lot of us are hurting.
I also remember from Guy that he was able to stand up in the face of adversity: the Big Bad Bruins, the Philadelphia Broad Street Bullies, coaches who tried to contain his passion, a GM who tried to get the better of him in the course of heated negotiations. Not to mention all the hardships he has experienced in his personal life. Always the same Demon Blond, imperfect, but implacably frank and straight as an arrow.
My heart is with his family, friends and countless fans.
Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau, Guy Lafleur… a solid 1st line for Team Paradise.
Bon voyage Guy! We will miss you.
As many of you know, while I’ve been in BC for 30 years, I spent the first 25 or so years of my life in Sherbrooke, QC, where I was born. I grew up watching the Canadiens’ dynasty of the 70’s and idolizing guys like Dryden, Robinson, Savard, Lapointe, Shutt, Lafleur and company. I got to watch them a few times at the old Montreal Forum. I feel privilege to have lived in a time allowing me to do that.
I have met Guy twice. Growing up, the Canadiens had a softball team going around the province of Quebec, playing games against local media and celebrities for local fundraisers. They played at the Amédée Roy stadium in Sherbrooke and I got autographs from all of them, Lafleur included.
The second time was in Penticton, BC, as he played with a group of NHL old timers. I had the chance to chat with Guy after the game and that’s when he signed the framed picture I have here.
I missed an opportunity to play on a line with him a year later. I had won a contest to suit up with the old timers, and the prize was to play on Lafleur’s line. On game day, while at work, I fell seriously ill, to the point where I had to be taken to hospital, where I stayed for a week fighting for my life. To this day, it’s one of my biggest regret.
My best hockey memory: the 1979 playoffs, against the Boston Bruins. Don Cherry was the Bruins’ coach, the Habs were down by one, late in the third. Boston took a penalty for too many men on the ice. On that power play, Lafleur passed to Lemaire ahead of him. Coco skates down the right wing, crosses the blue line and drops the puck back to Lafleur who one-times it, beating Gilles Gilbert to tie the game. The Habs won that game in overtime on a goal by Yvon Lambert.
Guy will forever be in my memories, in my heart… Rest in peace, Flower.