The entire hockey world is mourning the loss of a Hall-of-Famer and an all-time great following the passing of Guy Lafleur at the age of 70.
Lafleur dealt with several health issues during the final years of his life. In September 2019, he underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery and then lung surgery two months later. In October 2020, he was diagnosed with lung cancer for a second time.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Guy Lafleur. All members of the Canadiens organization are devastated by his passing. Guy had an exceptional career and always remained humble, accessible and close to the Habs and hockey fans in Quebec, Canada and around the world,” said Geoff Molson, owner, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens.
The Canadiens also announced that a schedule of events to honour Lafleur and celebrate his life will be announced soon.
A Habs Legend
Montreal has seen many hockey legends wear the Habs jersey during the team’s illustrious history, but few were bigger than the man nicknamed “The Flower” and “Le Démon Blond”.
Born in Thurso, Quebec, Lafleur was drafted no. 1 overall by the Canadiens in 1971 after leading the Quebec Remparts to a Memorial Cup title. He scored a remarkable 130 goals and 209 points during the final season of his junior career. He scored 29 goals in his rookie campaign with the Canadiens in 1971-72 and won his first of five Stanley Cups that same year.
When the Habs captured four consecutive Stanley Cups from 1976 through the end of the decade, Lafleur was the face of the franchise and the most exciting player in the NHL. He added multiple individual awards to his trophy case to go along with his Stanley Cup rings, including two Hart Trophies.
Lafleur retired in the middle of the 1984-85 season only to return four years later as a member of the New York Rangers after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame and having his number 10 retired by the Canadiens. He also suited up for the Quebec Nordiques before retiring for good in 1990-91.
The People’s Hero
Beyond his accomplishments on the ice, Lafleur was a hero and an icon to hockey fans around the world, but especially in Quebec. He will forever be an important piece of the province’s culture and identity. His incredible legacy will be felt for generations to come. He will always be a unifying figure of the Canadiens organization and sports in Quebec.
He was larger than life, a rock star on skates. He was flamboyant, lifted people out of their seats every time he touched the puck and effortlessly skated across the ice with his signature blond hair flowing behind him. It was magic for any fan who was fortunate enough to watch him play. As Martin St. Louis so aptly put it during his media availability on Friday morning: “Guy Lafleur is the Montreal Canadiens”. Brendan Gallagher echoed the sentiment, saying people like Lafleur are the reason today’s players are so proud to wear the Habs logo on their chests.
As passionate as they come, Lafleur was special to so many people. He was an integral part of the community and continued to give back even while battling cancer during the final months of his life. He became an ambassador of the CHUM Foundation at the hospital in Montreal where he was treated and created a fundraising campaign to support cancer research.
Jean Béliveau, Maurice Richard, and Guy Lafleur. The three pillars of one of the most iconic franchises in sports. All symbols of class, grace, and excellence. All gone but never forgotten.
Melissa has been covering the Montreal Canadiens for The Hockey Writers since March of 2020. She is also THW’s Social Media & Marketing Manager as well as co-host of Chicks & Sticks, a weekly show produced by THW. In 2006, she spearheaded the social media initiatives for Tennis Canada and Rogers Cup and was the primary person responsible for their upkeep for over 10 years. She has written articles for multiple tennis websites and interviewed the likes of Roger Federer and Serena Williams. While her career in sports started in tennis, her first love has always been hockey. She has a journalism degree from Concordia University.