Guy Lafleur

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Guy Lafleur
Hockey Hall of Fame, 1988
Guy Lafleur 2010.jpg
Born (1951-09-20) September 20, 1951 (age 62)
Thurso, QC, CAN
Height 6 ft 0 in (183 cm)
Weight 185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)
Position Right Wing
Shot Right
Played for Montreal Canadiens
New York Rangers
Quebec Nordiques
National team  Canada
NHL Draft 1st overall, 1971
Montreal Canadiens
Playing career 1971–1984
1988–1991

Guy Damien "The Flower" / "Le Démon Blond" Lafleur, OC, CQ (born September 20, 1951[1]) is a former Canadian professional ice hockey player who was the first player in the National Hockey League (NHL) to score 50 goals and 100 points in six straight seasons.[2] Between 1971 and 1991, he played for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques in an NHL career spanning 17 seasons and five Stanley Cup championships.[3]

Early years[edit]

Lafleur started playing hockey at the age of five when he received his first hockey stick for Christmas in 1956.[4] 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 an amazing 130 regular season goals. At the time, Lafleur idolized Jean Béliveau and Bobby Orr.

The Habs' general manager, Sam Pollock, was keen to find a way to trade to obtain the first overall pick in the 1971 amateur draft. 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. However, late in the 1970-71 season the Los Angeles Kings were in last place overall, behind the Seals. The Kings were in danger of "beating" the Seals out for last place, and if this happened Pollock would lose his first overall pick. Pollock traded the aging Ralph Backstrom to the Kings for two players. Backstrom's presence lifted the Kings out of last place, and the Seals finished at the bottom, granting the Habs the first pick. Pollock hesitated between Lafleur and Marcel Dionne, but chose Lafleur with his overall no.1 pick.[5]

Montreal Canadiens[edit]

Statue of Guy Lafleur located at the entrance of the Bell Centre in Montreal

At first, Lafleur struggled to live up to expectations in the league, but by 1974 had developed his trademark smooth skating style and scoring touch.[6] He was a cornerstone of five Stanley Cup championship teams. He was one of the most popular players on a very popular team; fans chanted "Guy, Guy, Guy!" whenever he touched the puck. He 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 Blonde Demon).[7]

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 an album called 'Lafleur'. The album consisted of Guy Lafleur reciting hockey instructions, accompanied by disco music.

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, losing in the second round of the 1980 playoffs to the Minnesota North Stars in seven games. Injuries shortened Lafleur's 1980–1981 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. He was nearly decapitated when a metal post pierced the windshield missing his head by inches while tearing off part of his ear. During the 1980–81 Montreal Canadiens season, Lafleur appeared in only 51 games and scored 27 goals. It was the first time since the 1973–74 Montreal Canadiens season that he failed to score 50 goals or more in a season.[8]

During the 1984–1985 season, he started the season scoring only two goals in 19 games and was unhappy with the amount of ice time he was receiving from coach Jacques Lemaire. Furthermore his rocky relationship with Lemaire became intolerable for him, as Lemaire insisted that everyone on the team contribute defensively, whearas Lafleur was always an offensive minded player whose productivity overshadowed his defensive weaknesses[citation needed]. He asked to be traded but General Manager Serge Savard refused his 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, he decided to retire, and his departure from the Canadiens was considered acrimonious.[9]

Return to NHL[edit]

After being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Lafleur returned to the NHL briefly from 1988–89 through 1990–91 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.

Against the Edmonton Oilers in a 1988 exhibition game, Lafleur played well enough to earn praise from the Oilers' Mark Messier and convince Rangers manager Phil Esposito to sign Lafleur to a one year contract.[9] During his first game back in the Montreal Forum, he scored twice against Patrick Roy during the Rangers' 7–5 loss to the Canadiens. As in his heydey with the Habs, the Forum crowd chanted "Guy! Guy! Guy!" every time he touched the puck, and he received huge ovations for each goal, and when he was introduced as the game's first star. 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, he reportedly turned down a $1 million offer from the Los Angeles Kings. He managed 24 goals in 98 games with the Nordiques over two seasons.

Oddly, the Minnesota North Stars selected Lafleur with the 20th and last pick in the 1991 Expansion Draft, this despite the fact that it was already well known that he was retiring for good at the end of the 1990–91 season.

He had already verbally agreed to an office job with the Nordiques and since his retirement papers had yet to be filed with the NHL offices, league tampering bylaws prevented him from accepting an off-ice position with a team that didn't own his playing rights. In order to simplify his transition from player to an office job with the same team, a gentlemen's agreement between the two teams was made where his rights were traded back to Quebec for the NHL rights to Alan Haworth.

Accolades[edit]

The Guy Lafleur Montreal Canadiens locker room display at the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Lafleur is the all-time leading scorer in Canadiens history, notching 1,246 points (518 goals and 728 assists) 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 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 won three Art Ross Trophies (1976, 1977, 1978), two Hart Memorial Trophies (1977, 1978), three Lester B. Pearson Awards (1976, 1977, 1978), and one Conn Smythe Trophy (1977). He was a member of the Canadian team in the 1976 and 1981 Canada Cup tournaments, winning the Cup in 1976, and was the recipient of the Lou Marsh Trophy in 1977.

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. He still holds the record for the most career point and assist totals in Montreal Canadiens history, as well as the second-highest goal total behind Maurice "Rocket" Richard. Lafleur was the sixth Montreal Canadiens' player to have his sweater number retired.

In April 2001, Lafleur placed 122 items - including 5 miniature Stanley Cups, 6 miniature Prince of Wales trophies, 1977 Conn Smythe Trophy, 3 Art Ross trophies, Hockey Hall of Fame plaque and ring, games-used jerseys, 4 Stanley Cup rings, and the first skates he ever wore - for sale. The items' selling prices totalled approximately $400,000 USD.

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 1998, he was ranked number 11 on The Hockey News' list of the 100 Greatest Hockey Players.

After retirement[edit]

Guy Lafleur and fan in Longueuil, Quebec, Canada on February 2, 2008

Lafleur currently operates a helicopter rental company in Montreal that shuttles VIPs to and from the airport. He was at the controls when the Tampa Bay Lightning's André Roy proposed to his fiancée, the Stanley Cup serving as the engagement ring bearer.

Lafleur also owns 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, August 4, 2008. Lafleur sold the "Bleu, Blanc Rouge" in December 2012 for over $5 Million. The restaurant closed 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.[10] Honorary colonels generally serve for three years.

Criminal conviction and acquittal[edit]

Lafleur's son Mark had a number of run-ins with the law, including charges of sexual assault. Part of Mark's bail conditions was that he remain at his father's house. In 2008, questions about Lafleur's testimony in his son's case resulted in an arrest warrant being issued for Lafleur, which his lawyer criticized as an unnecessary embarrassment.[11] In 2009 Lafleur was charged with obstruction of justice for helping Mark to break his curfew by driving him to a hotel to see his girlfriend; the trial was scheduled for April 2009. Lafleur has filed a $2.8 million civil suit against police and prosecutors, claiming that his rights were violated.[12]

On May 1, 2009, Lafleur was convicted and on June 18, 2009, was given a one year suspended sentence. Lafleur was also fined $100 and ordered to donate $10,000 to charity.[13][14]

On August 17, 2010, Lafleur was unanimously acquitted of all charges by the Quebec Court of Appeal, throwing out his previous conviction.[15]

Career statistics[edit]

Regular season and playoffs[edit]

    Regular season   Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
1966–67 Quebec Junior Aces QJHL 8 1 1 2 0
1967–68 Quebec Junior Aces QJHL 43 30 19 49 0
1968–69 Quebec Junior Aces QJHL 49 50 60 110 83
1969–70 Quebec Remparts QMJHL 56 103 67 170 105
1970–71 Quebec Remparts QMJHL 62 130 79 209 135 14 22 21 43 49
1971–72 Montreal Canadiens NHL 73 29 35 64 48 6 1 4 5 2
1972–73* Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 28 27 55 51 17 3 5 8 9
1973–74 Montreal Canadiens NHL 73 21 35 56 29 6 0 1 1 4
1974–75 Montreal Canadiens NHL 70 53 66 119 37 11 12 7 19 15
1975–76* Montreal Canadiens NHL 80 56 69 125 36 13 7 10 17 2
1976–77* Montreal Canadiens NHL 80 56 80 136 20 14 9 17 26 6
1977–78* Montreal Canadiens NHL 78 60 72 132 26 15 10 11 21 16
1978–79* Montreal Canadiens NHL 80 52 77 129 28 16 10 13 23 0
1979–80 Montreal Canadiens NHL 74 50 75 125 12 3 3 1 4 0
1980–81 Montreal Canadiens NHL 51 27 43 70 29 3 0 1 1 2
1981–82 Montreal Canadiens NHL 66 27 57 84 24 5 2 1 3 4
1982–83 Montreal Canadiens NHL 68 27 49 76 12 3 0 2 2 2
1983–84 Montreal Canadiens NHL 80 30 40 70 19 12 0 3 3 5
1984–85 Montreal Canadiens NHL 19 2 3 5 10
1988–89 New York Rangers NHL 67 18 27 45 12 4 1 0 1 0
1989–90 Quebec Nordiques NHL 39 12 22 34 4
1990–91 Quebec Nordiques NHL 59 12 16 28 2
NHL totals 1,127 560 793 1,353 399 128 58 76 134 67

* Stanley Cup Champion.

International[edit]

Year Team Event GP G A Pts PIM
1976 Team Canada CC 7 1 5 6 12
1981 Team Canada WC 7 1 0 1 2
1981 Team Canada CC 7 2 9 11 0
International totals 21 4 14 18 14

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Stan Fischler; Shirley Fischler (2003). Who's Who in Hockey. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 243. ISBN 978-0-7407-1904-2. 
  2. ^ Dave Blevins (2011). The Sports Hall of Fame Encyclopedia: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer. Scarecrow Press. p. 554. ISBN 978-1-4616-7370-5. 
  3. ^ Craig MacInnis (2004). Remembering Guy Lafleur. Raincoast Books. p. 13. ISBN 978-1-55192-701-5. 
  4. ^ Eric Zweig (2010). Twenty Greatest Hockey Goals. Dundurn. p. 124. ISBN 978-1-55488-789-7. 
  5. ^ Sports Hall of Fame
  6. ^ Mike Leonetti (2005). Canadiens Legends: Montreal's Hockey Heroes. Raincoast Books. pp. 166–170. ISBN 978-1-55192-731-2. 
  7. ^ http://www.legendsofhockey.net/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/LegendsMember.jsp?mem=p198802&page=bio#photo
  8. ^ The Montreal Canadiens:100 Years of Glory, D’Arcy Jenish, p.242, Published in Canada by Doubleday, 2009, ISBN 978-0-385-66325-0
  9. ^ a b Austin Murphy (1988-09-26). "Out of the game four years, Guy Lafleur attempts a comeback - 09.26.88 - SI Vault". Sportsillustrated.cnn.com. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 
  10. ^ "Guy Lafleur is appointed honorary colonel of 3 Wing Bagotville". Royal Canadian Air Force. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  11. ^ Arrest warrant issued for Guy Lafleur Montreal Gazette, January 30, 2008.
  12. ^ Guy LaFleur Ordered to Stand Trial Yahoo Sports, February 11, 2009
  13. ^ [1][dead link]
  14. ^ [2][dead link]
  15. ^ "Guy Lafleur acquitted - Montreal - CBC News". Cbc.ca. 2010-08-17. Retrieved 2011-11-04. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Gilbert Perreault
NHL first overall draft pick
1971
Succeeded by
Billy Harris
Preceded by
Chuck Lefley
Montreal Canadiens first round draft pick
1971
Succeeded by
Chuck Arnason
Awards
Preceded by
Bobby Clarke
Winner of the Hart Trophy
1977, 1978
Succeeded by
Bryan Trottier
Preceded by
Steve Shutt
NHL Goal Leader
1978
Succeeded by
Mike Bossy
Preceded by
Reggie Leach
Winner of the Conn Smythe Trophy
1977
Succeeded by
Larry Robinson
Preceded by
Bobby Orr
Winner of the Art Ross Trophy
1976, 1977, 1978
Succeeded by
Bryan Trottier
Preceded by
Bobby Orr
Winner of the Lester B. Pearson Award
1976, 1977, 1978
Succeeded by
Marcel Dionne
Preceded by
Sandy Hawley
Lou Marsh Trophy winner
1977
Succeeded by
Graham Smith and Ken Read