Habs to retire Lapointe’s jersey

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The Montreal Canadiens are retiring another jersey. This time, it’s the No. 5 worn by Hall of Fame defenseman Guy Lapointe.

Now, the Habs already retired the No. 5 when they retired it for Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion in 2006, but this is about Lapointe’s name going up in the rafters of the Bell Centre (sometime next season), along with a whole bunch of other former greats.

In all, the Canadiens have retired 15 numbers, in honor of 17 players. (Eighteen players now, counting Lapointe.)

For you youngsters out there, Lapointe was one of hockey’s elite blue-liners during the 1970’s — a decade in which the powerhouse Habs won six Stanley Cups, including four straight from 1976-79.

Hall of Famers Serge Savard and Larry Robinson were also on that Habs blue line, and have already had their numbers (18 and 19, respectively) retired.

Together, Lapointe, Savard and Robinson were called the “Big Three.”

From a 1977 Sports Illustrated article:

“How can one team have three defensemen like that?” asked the Islanders’ confused Lome Henning.

All three stand at least six feet tall and weigh at least 200 pounds. All three are extremely fast and mobile, and at the whim of Coach Scotty Bowman they occasionally take a shift on one of the wings. Robinson, in fact, regularly moves to a forward position on the Canadiens’ power play and places his immovable body at the goaltender’s doorstep, where he can screen the goalie’s vision and also pick harassed defensemen and force them out of the play.

“Those three guys do so many things, they make it easier for everyone else,” says New York’s J. P. Parise. “Except for Guy Lafleur and Steve Shutt and Jacques Lemaire, the Montreal forwards are a bunch of plumbers, just like us, but with those three defensemen on their side they can take a lot of chances.”

There’s been a push in Montreal to have Lapointe’s jersey retired, led by his daughter, Stephanie, who tweeted the following today about the news: