Guy Lafleur

Family tree of Guy Lafleur

Hockey

CanadianBorn Guy Damien Lafleur

Canadian former professional ice hockey player

Born on September 20, 1951 in Thurso, Quebec , Canada (70 years)

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Guy Damien Lafleur (September 20, 1951 – April 22, 2022), nicknamed "the Flower" and "Le Démon Blond", was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He was the first player in National Hockey League (NHL) history to score 50 goals in six consecutive seasons as well as 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. Between 1971 and 1991, Lafleur played right wing for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques in an NHL career spanning 17 seasons, and five Stanley Cup championships in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979 (all with the Canadiens). In 2017, Lafleur was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history.

...   Guy Damien Lafleur (September 20, 1951 – April 22, 2022), nicknamed "the Flower" and "Le Démon Blond", was a Canadian professional ice hockey player. He was the first player in National Hockey League (NHL) history to score 50 goals in six consecutive seasons as well as 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. Between 1971 and 1991, Lafleur played right wing for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques in an NHL career spanning 17 seasons, and five Stanley Cup championships in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979 (all with the Canadiens). In 2017, Lafleur was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players in history.


Early life
Lafleur was born on September 20, 1951, in Thurso, Quebec. He started playing hockey at the age of five after receiving his first hockey stick as a Christmas present.


Playing career


Amateur career
As a youth, he played at the Quebec International Pee-Wee Hockey Tournament three consecutive years from 1962 to 1964, and scored a tournament record of 64 points. In his teens, Lafleur gained considerable recognition for his play as a member of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, where he led his team to the Memorial Cup in 1971, scoring 130 regular season goals. At the time, Lafleur idolized Jean Béliveau and Bobby Orr. He gained the nickname "Le Turbo de Thurso" while playing with the Remparts, coined by Radio Canada broadcaster Jean-Bernard Rainville.


Montreal Canadiens


1971 NHL Entry Draft
With Lafleur and fellow Quebecer Marcel Dionne among the top prospects in the 1971 NHL Amateur Draft, the Habs' general manager, Sam Pollock, was keen to find a way to trade to obtain one of the top two picks. He persuaded California Golden Seals owner Charlie Finley to trade the Seals' 1971 first-round pick and François Lacombe in return for Montreal's 1970 first-round pick and veteran Ernie Hicke. Oakland finished last, leaving Montreal with the first overall pick. Pollock hesitated between Lafleur and Dionne, but chose Lafleur with the first draft choice.


Dynasty (1971–1979)

Lafleur wore No. 10, as Beliveau originally asked Lafleur to take his No. 4, then had second thoughts, saying, "Don't try to be a second Jean Beliveau. Be the first Guy Lafleur. Take a number and make it your own." Lafleur received little ice time in his rookie season, as the Canadiens were deep in veteran players. During his first three seasons, Lafleur struggled to live up to expectations in the league as he posted average statistics—the more so in that Dionne became an immediate star in Detroit who led his team in scoring over his first three seasons.By his fourth season, 1974–75, Lafleur had developed his trademark smooth skating style and scoring touch, making him one of the most popular players on a very popular team; fans chanted "Guy, Guy, Guy!" whenever he touched the puck. Lafleur was described as a "Jackson Pollock painting on ice, a frenetic innovator who pushed the boundaries of his art beyond what had ever been conceived, a singularly dynamic force that turned an everyday sight as simple as a man on skates with a puck on his stick into a masterpiece — something you had seen before, perhaps, but never quite like that". Opposing players often hooked and slashed Lafleur, but he never retaliated.
Former teammate Réjean Houle said that “Guy lived 100 miles an hour. One hundred miles an hour everywhere. One hundred miles an hour when he went to Quebec in his car. One hundred miles an hour on the rink. One hundred miles an hour on Crescent St. Besides his on-ice artistry, Lafleur was also known for his charisma as he was frequently in demand with the press and fans, with former Montreal Gazette sports columnist Michael Farber saying “Jean Béliveau was magisterial. Jean Béliveau was our father — and Guy Lafleur was our cool older brother. Lafleur wasn’t a quiet guy and if you look at his era, that was not a quiet time. Lafleur was a product of the ’70s. There were loud colours, loud clothing — we’ve seen pictures of the sideburns". Those who encountered Lafleur personally lauded his down-to-earth persona and humility. Lafleur became known among English fans as "Flower" due to his literal translation of his surname, while among French fans he was dubbed "le Démon Blond" (the Blond Demon). He was one of several players nicknamed "The Flying Frenchman".Lafleur was a cornerstone of the Canadiens' four straight Stanley Cup championships from 1976 to 1979, including being named playoff MVP in 1977. During the 1978 Stanley Cup finals, Boston Bruins head coach Don Cherry ordered his players to put their sticks up and hit Lafleur whenever they encountered him. At the end of the series, Lafleur's head was swathed in bandages after numerous slashes from Bruin players. After Montreal won the Stanley Cup, he borrowed it for the weekend without telling anyone to show his friends back home in Thurso, where he set it out on his front lawn for all his neighbours to see.In 1979, Lafleur released the album Lafleur!, consisting of Guy Lafleur reciting hockey instructions, accompanied by disco music.


Decline and first retirement (1980–1985)
With Ken Dryden, Jacques Lemaire, and several other key players retiring after the conclusion of the 1979 season, the Canadiens' dynasty came to an end with the team losing in the second round of the 1980 playoffs to the Minnesota North Stars in seven games. Injuries shortened Lafleur's 1980–81 season and his production dropped significantly (during the previous six seasons, Lafleur had reached or exceeded 100 points and 50 goals). In the following seasons, he was overshadowed by Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky.While driving home on March 24, 1981, Lafleur fell asleep at the wheel of his Cadillac and crashed into a highway fence. A metal post pierced the windshield, missing his head by inches while grazing his right ear. During the 1980–81 season, Lafleur appeared in only 51 games and scored 27 goals. It was the first time since the 1973–74 season that he failed to score 50 goals or more in a season.The 1983–84 season produced Montreal's first losing record of the expansion era, and resulted in coach Bob Berry being replaced 63 games into the season by Lafleur's former teammate Jacques Lemaire. At first, Lemaire's hiring was seen as a success as he guided the Canadiens to their first playoff series victories since 1980 and reached the Wales Conference Final. Though the Habs' new coach had been Lafleur's centreman during the glory years of the 1970s, the former linemates quickly struggled to transform their relationship to an amicable one between coach and player. In time, Lemaire became renowned as one of the NHL's finest defensively-minded coaches. Lafleur was always an offensive-minded player who believed his productivity overshadowed any defensive weaknesses. Lemaire's insistence that everyone on his teams contribute defensively promptly caused a rift between him and Lafleur that never healed. By 1985, due to a rocky relationship with Lemaire, Lafleur felt this had become intolerable and requested a trade. General manager Serge Savard refused Lafleur's request, as trading one of the most popular players in Canadiens history would have incurred a severe backlash from fans and the media. With no other options, Lafleur decided to retire, and his departure from the Canadiens was considered acrimonious.


Return to the NHL (1988–1991)
After being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Lafleur came out of retirement to return to the NHL for three more seasons, from 1988 through 1991, with the New York Rangers and the Quebec Nordiques. Lafleur remained one of the few players who did not wear protective helmets due to a grandfather clause. According to Wayne Gretzky, Lafleur "was quicker and faster without wearing full shoulder pads".Against the Edmonton Oilers in a 1988 exhibition game, Lafleur played well enough to earn praise from the Oilers' Mark Messier and convince Rangers general manager Phil Esposito to sign Lafleur to a one-year contract. During his first game back in the Montreal Forum, he received a standing ovation when he came on the ice, and as in his heyday with the Habs, the crowd chanted "Guy! Guy! Guy!" every time he touched the puck. Lafleur scored twice against Patrick Roy, to heavy applause, during the Rangers' 7–5 loss to the Canadiens, and was awarded the first star of the game. Although his high-scoring days were well behind him, his stint with the Rangers was moderately successful, and he helped the team to first place in the Patrick Division until being knocked out by a knee injury.Lafleur then followed dismissed Rangers head coach and close friend Michel Bergeron to the Nordiques for his final seasons. Intending to finish his hockey career in Quebec where he had started, Lafleur reportedly turned down a $1 million offer from the Los Angeles Kings which would have allowed him to play alongside Wayne Gretzky. Lafleur managed 24 goals in 98 games with the Nordiques over two seasons, while also mentoring emerging star center Joe Sakic, Despite Lafleur's presence, the Nordiques owned the NHL's worst record in both seasons Lafleur played with them. During Lafleur's final NHL game he was cheered every time he touched the puck and leapt over the boards and received a long standing ovation; the referee for that contest was Paul Stewart (coincidentally Stewart's final NHL game as a player was when his Nordiques played against Lafleur's Canadiens on April 6, 1980).The Minnesota North Stars selected Lafleur with the final pick in the 1991 Expansion Draft. Lafleur had decided to retire for a second and last time as a player, and he had already agreed to an off-ice job with the Nordiques. The league's bylaws prevented him from accepting a job with a team that did not own his playing rights. The North Stars solved Lafleur's quandary by trading him back to Quebec. In exchange, they received the rights to a former Nordique who had been playing in Switzerland for two years, Alan Haworth. Haworth played just one more year of professional hockey, and never returned to the NHL.


Life after hockey

Lafleur was a licensed helicopter pilot. He was part owner of a helicopter transportation company. He was the copilot when the Tampa Bay Lightning's André Roy proposed to his fiancée, the Stanley Cup serving as the engagement ring bearer.In the 1990s, Lafleur had his own brand of fruit juice energy drink, "Flower Power".Lafleur also owned a restaurant in Berthierville, Quebec, "Guy Lafleur Mikes Signature", which opened in 2002. He opened a new restaurant, called "Bleu, Blanc, Rouge!" in Rosemère, Quebec, in 2008. Lafleur sold the "Bleu, Blanc Rouge" in December 2012. The restaurant closed on December 22, 2012.From 2005 to 2008 Lafleur was appointed honorary colonel of 12 Radar Squadron, an air force unit in Bagotville, Quebec. In February 2013 he was appointed honorary colonel of 3 Wing Bagotville, the parent formation of 12 Radar Squadron. Honorary colonels generally serve for three years.
In 2007 Lafleur's son Mark was arrested for assault, forcible confinement, and other charges, and remained at his father's house as part of his bail conditions. In 2009, Lafleur was charged with giving contradictory testimony about whether Mark had respected his curfew. Lafleur was convicted in 2009, but in August 2010, he was unanimously acquitted of all charges by the Quebec Court of Appeal. He filed a $2.8 million civil suit against police and prosecutors, claiming that his rights were violated and his reputation damaged but did not win his case.


Illness and death
In 2019, Lafleur began having health issues. In September, he had open heart surgery with five bypasses. In November, he had a cancerous lobe removed from his left lung. In October 2020, cancer was diagnosed in his right lung.Lafleur died on April 22, 2022, at age 70, exactly one week after Mike Bossy, who also succumbed to lung cancer (as both smoked heavily during their playing days); both were Quebec natives whose contemporary careers as star right-wingers were often compared.He was given a national funeral on May 3, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec.


Accolades and legacy

Lafleur is the all-time leading scorer in Canadiens history, notching 1,246 points, made up of the club's second highest (behind Maurice "Rocket" Richard) all-time goals, with 518, and the most all-time assists, with 728, in his 14 years with the Habs. He led the NHL in points in 1976, 1977, and 1978. He tied for a Montreal club record with Steve Shutt for goals in a season with 60 in 1977–78 and holds the franchise record for points in a season with 136 in 1976–77. Lafleur became the first player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons, all as a Hab. Lafleur was also the fastest player (at the time) to reach 1,000 points, doing so in only 720 games. That record has since been broken by Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, and a few others.He was a member of the Canadian team in the 1976 and 1981 Canada Cup tournaments, winning the Cup in 1976. He was the recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1977.On February 16, 1985, Lafleur became the fifth player from the Montreal Canadiens to have his sweater number retired. Lafleur was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. Along with Gordie Howe before him and Mario Lemieux after him, Lafleur is one of only three players to have returned to the NHL after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.In April 2001, Lafleur sold most of his personal hockey memorabilia in a silent auction. 122 items were sold, including miniature replicas of NHL trophies, jerseys, pucks, sticks, and skates. Included in the sale were his 1977 Conn Smythe Trophy, 1977 Hart Trophy, the puck for his first goal, and four of his five Stanley Cup rings. The items' selling prices totalled approximately US$400,000, with Lafleur donating $20,000 to $25,000 to the Montreal Canadiens Foundation.Besides the honours received during his playing career, in 1980 he was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 2005, he was made a Knight of the National Order of Quebec.In 1979, he received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.The Guy Lafleur Award of Excellence was introduced in 1985.In 1998, he was ranked number 11 on The Hockey News list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players by the NHL as part of its centennial celebration.The QMJHL retired Lafleur's number 4 league-wide at the start of the 2021–22 season.


Awards
5× Stanley Cup champion (1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979)
3× Art Ross Trophy winner (1976, 1977, 1978)
2× Hart Memorial Trophy winner (1977, 1978)
3× Lester B. Pearson Award winner (1976, 1977, 1978)
6× First-Team All-Star Right Winger (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980)
Conn Smythe Trophy winner (1977)
7× Molson Cup winner (1975, 1976, 1977, 1978, 1979, 1980, 1982)


Career statistics


Regular season and playoffs


International


See also
List of NHL statistical leaders
List of NHL players with 1000 games played
List of NHL players with 1000 points
List of NHL players with 500 goals
List of NHL players with 100 point seasons
List of NHL players with 50 goal seasons


References


Further reading
Germain, Georges-Hébert (1991). Overtime: The Legend of Guy Lafleur. Toronto: Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-012924-3.
Tremblay, Yves (2013). Guy Lafleur : l'homme qui a soulevé nos passions [Guy Lafleur: The Man Who Sparked Our Passions] (in French). Brossard, Québec, Canada: Un Monde différent. ISBN 978-2-89225-829-5.


External links

Biographical information and career statistics from NHL.com, or Eliteprospects.com, or Hockey-Reference.com, or Legends of Hockey, or The Internet Hockey Database
Guy Lafleur, winner of the Lionel Conacher Award and the Bobbie Rosenfeld Award: Virtual Museum of Canada Exhibit



Biography from Wikipedia (see original) under licence CC BY-SA 3.0


 

Geographical origins

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