Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur dies at 70
Hockey fans mourn the loss of an NHL great
“I didn’t fall in love with the Canadiens I watched growing up–the team wasn’t very competitive and in their darkest era. I did fall in love with the team’s history, and particularly Guy Lafleur.”
Kevin Vallée, who covers the Canadiens for 91.9 Sports, is one of many whose love for hockey is attributed to the late Guy Lafleur.
Lafleur died at the age of 70 on April 22, 2022, after a battle with lung cancer. The former Montreal Canadiens right winger was the team's highest scorer of all time, with 518 goals and 728 assists.
Known as “The Flower” and “Le Démon Blond,” Lafleur is a legend in the eyes of Montrealers and hockey fans around the world. With three Stanley Cup wins under his belt by 1977, he was awarded the Conn Smyth Trophy as postseason MVP that year, and went on to help the Canadiens bring the cup home the next two consecutive years.
Tributes and condolences for Lafleur poured out on Friday morning after the Canadiens announced his death.
"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,” Canadiens president Geoff Molson said in a statement. “Throughout his career, he allowed us to experience great moments of collective pride.”
Lafleur was born on Sept. 20, 1951. He scored 28 goals in his rookie year of 1971-72, added his name for the first time to the Stanley Cup in his second year, and scored 21 goals in his third. His third season would be the year that earned him the nickname “The Flower” as he really began to blossom into the legendary player he is known for today, earning 53 goals and 66 assists in the 74-75 season.
“Throughout his career, he allowed us to experience great moments of collective pride.” — Geoff Molson
Remembered for his flowing blond hair as he shot across the ice with impressive speed, Lafleur played 961 games with the Habs, setting a franchise-record of 1,246 points in his 14 seasons with the team. In 1980, he became the first player in the league’s history to produce six consecutive seasons with more than 50 goals and over 100 points, adding another record to his name.
After nearly four years of retirement, Lafleur returned to the ice in 1988 with the New York Rangers. After one season in New York, he signed on as a free agent with the Quebec Nordiques in July 1989, where he remained until he hung up his jersey for the last time in 1991 at the age of 40.
Among the many who expressed sadness over his passing was Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In a tweet on Friday morning, Trudeau said Lafleur was “unlike anyone else on the ice. His speed, skill, and scoring were hard to believe. A record-setter and a five-time Stanley Cup champion, he inspired countless Quebecers, Canadians, and hockey fans around the world. We’ll miss you, Number 10.”
Prior to the pandemic, “The Flower” could often be seen attending Habs games as an ambassador for the team. After being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 while undergoing quadruple bypass surgery, Lafleur kept out of the public eye as COVID-19 spread throughout the province.
His statue standing outside the Bell Centre alongside other Canadiens greats Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard and Jean Béliveau, Lafleur will be remembered as one of the most memorable and loved hockey players in NHL history.