Just a week after the loss of NHL legend and native Québecer Mike Bossy, it was today announced that Guy Lafleur, the Montréal Canadiens legend and Québec native, tragically lost his battle with lung cancer today at the age of 70.
The first overall pick of the 1971 NHL Draft, Le Démon Blond was already a legend in his home province by the time he joined the Canadiens, captaining the Québec Remparts to the 1971 Memorial Cup. Lafleur, with his flowing blond hair and break-neck speed, quickly became a fan favourite in Montréal, already joining the juggernaut 1970’s Canadiens dynasty that would win five Stanley Cups during his tenure, first in 1973 and then with four straight between 1976-79. Lafleur was a two-time Hart Trophy winner (1977-78), three time Art Ross Trophy winner (1976-78) and three time Pearson Award winner (1976-78), also winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as Playoff MVP in 1977. Lafleur would spend fourteen seasons with the Canadiens before retiring in 1984, returning to the NHL for a three year stint with the New York Rangers and rival Québec Nordiques, retiring for good in 1991, amassing 560 goals and 1353 points in 1126 career regular season games, with another 134 points in 128 career playoff games. Lafleur was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in in 1988, was named to the NHL 100 in 2017, and had his #10 retired by the Canadiens in 1985.
Starting his NHL career just a year after Canada controversially boycotted international hockey, Lafleur was part of the debut Canadian roster at the 1976 Canada Cup, notching six points in seven games en route to winning the Cup; he would return again in 1981, notching nine points in seven games, before falling to the Soviet Union in the lopsided 8-1 final in Montréal. Lafleur also suited up for one World Championship, also in 1981, scoring one goal in seven games, finishing fourth.
Our condolences go out to the Lafleur family, as well as the extended hockey community in Montréal and Québec, and across the hockey world on yet another tragic loss of a legendary hockey superstar.