|Hockey Hall of Fame, 1988|
Lafleur in 2013
September 20, 1951|
Thurso, Quebec, Canada
|Height||6 ft 0 in (183 cm)|
|Weight||185 lb (84 kg; 13 st 3 lb)|
New York Rangers
1st overall, 1971|
Guy Damien Lafleur (born September 20, 1951), nicknamed "The Flower" and "Le Démon Blond", is a Canadian former 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.
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. 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.
With Lafleur and fellow French-Canadian 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. Unrelated to the draft of that year was the trading of Ralph Backstrom to the Los Angeles Kings, often credited as helping the Kings stay out of last place; however, at the time of the trade the Kings were ahead of the Seals, Red Wings, Sabres, and Canucks, and the deal had no effect on the Kings' standings that year. Oakland finished last, leaving Montreal with the first overall pick. Pollock hesitated between Lafleur and Dionne, but chose Lafleur with the first draft choice.
At first, Lafleur struggled to live up to expectations in the league--the more so in that Dionne became an immediate star in Detroit who led his team in scoring over his first three seasons. By 1974, 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. 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 Blond Demon).
He was a cornerstone of five Stanley Cup championship teams. 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.
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 1980-81 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 tearing off part of his 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. However, while 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. During the 1984-1985 season, Lafleur started the season scoring only two goals in 19 games and was unhappy with the amount of ice time he was receiving from Lemaire.
In time, Lemaire would become renowned as one of the NHL's finest defensively-minded coaches. However, 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 would never heal.
By 1985, Lafleur's rocky relationship with Lemaire had become intolerable for him and he asked to be traded. 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.
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.
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, he reportedly turned down a $1 million offer from the Los Angeles Kings, which would have allowed Lafleur to play alongside Wayne Gretzky. He managed 24 goals in 98 games with the Nordiques over two seasons, mentoring young center Joe Sakic, who was emerging as a superstar despite the Nordiques owning the NHL's worst record in both seasons Lafleur played with them.
The Minnesota North Stars selected Lafleur with the 20th and last pick in the 1991 Expansion Draft. Lafleur had decided to retire for a second and last time as a player, and he had already verbally agreed to an off-ice job with the Nordiques. However, since his retirement papers had yet to be officially filed, the league's bylaws prevented him from accepting a job with a team that didn't own his playing rights. The North Stars solved Lafleur's quandary by trading him back to Quebec in exchange for 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.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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, on August 4, 2008. Lafleur sold the "Bleu, Blanc Rouge" in December 2012 for over $5 million. 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.
Lafleur's son Mark had a number of run-ins with the law, including charges of sexual assault. Mark remained at his father's house as part of his bail conditions. 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. 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.
On August 17, 2010, Lafleur was unanimously acquitted of all charges by the Quebec Court of Appeal, throwing out his previous conviction.
|1966-67||Québec Junior Aces||QJHL||8||1||1||2||0||--||--||--||--||--|
|1967-68||Québec Junior Aces||QJHL||43||30||19||49||--||--||--||--||--||--|
|1968-69||Québec Junior Aces||QJHL||49||50||60||110||83||--||--||--||--||--|
|1988-89||New York Rangers||NHL||67||18||27||45||12||4||1||0||1||0|