'He was a demi-god': Hockey icon Guy Lafleur remembered by N.L. fans

·3 min read
Montreal Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur has died at the age of 70. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images - image credit)
Montreal Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur has died at the age of 70. (Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images - image credit)
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images
Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images

Hockey fans in Newfoundland and Labrador are remembering Guy Lafleur as a legend of the game who helped create a generation of supporters in the province.

Lafleur scored more than 1,200 points over 17 NHL seasons, winning five Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens between 1973 and 1979. The winger, known for his flashy style of play along with his ability to score at will, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. His death at 70 was announced Friday by the Canadiens organization.

It was Lafleur who made a hockey fan out of Cyril Moore of Mount Pearl, who watched the player fans dubbed "the Flower" during a matchup with the Toronto Maple Leafs one night with his father.

"There was just something about this guy when he was on the ice. He was head and shoulders above. Even though they had a great team, you could see there was something special in this guy," Moore said Friday.

"If the Habs needed a goal, this was the guy that was on the ice that was going to get it. And he did, over and over again."

Moore said Lafleur will always be his favourite player of all time. He fondly remembers the one game he got to watch him play in person at the Montreal Forum — He even still has the jersey he bought in the arena.

"I think they were down 4-1 or 4-2 going into the third. And they won the game 6-4, and the roof came off the place in the old Forum that night. It was lovely," he said.

Meg Roberts/CBC
Meg Roberts/CBC

Habs fan Bridget Meaney of Paradise remembers her fair share of Lafleur's victories, watching the team on black and white television as a youth. She remembers him as the total package — on and off the ice.

"No. 1, he was very handsome," she said. "Then of course his skill and his swiftness. He's just all over an excellent player."

Lafleur's impact will continue to be felt in the NHL for generations, Moore said, adding that he sees some of the Hall of Famer's qualities in today's top scorers.

"He was the reason we're watching great hockey today, him and players like him," he said. "You got Sidney Crosby, you've got Connor McDavid. You watch these guys playing hockey, and you can almost see Guy Lafleur in them."

Guy Lafleur to me, he was a demi-god. - Jonathan Crowe

Former sports reporter and CBC N.L. anchor Jonathan Crowe grew up a fan of the Canadiens and Lafleur, even getting the chance to interview him in the 1980s.

"We interview a lot of people that we're so in the moment and we're not really impressed by any of them.… But Lafleur was one of these guys where I found myself shaking," Crowe said Friday. "He was so humble. He tried to make me feel at ease."

Crowe said he remembers the energy that Lafleur played with during his time in the league, as well as his superstar status that transcended the sport.

Mike Simms/CBC
Mike Simms/CBC

"As soon as Lafleur would touch the puck, the crowd would start to roar," he said. "He took the stage. If you were watching a play, he was the lead actor."

Crowe said he was sad to learn of Lafleur's death, as it felt like losing a key figure of his youth.

"Guy Lafleur to me, he was a demi-god. He looked the part, he seemed indestructible, right? We all knew that he smoked two packs a day … and he didn't train like Connor McDavid trains today, but nonetheless he was an amazing player," he said.

"When I watch whatever memorial they have for Guy Lafleur, and it will be like a state funeral in Quebec, I'm sure I will shed some tears."

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