Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur has died at the age of 70, the Montreal Canadiens confirmed on Friday.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Guy Lafleur,” said Canadiens owner Geoff Molson. “All members of the Canadiens organization are devastated by his passing. Guy Lafleur had an exceptional career and always remained simple, accessible, and close to the Habs and hockey fans in Quebec, Canada and around the world. Throughout his career, he allowed us to experience great moments of collective pride. He was one of the greatest players in our organization while becoming an extraordinary ambassador for our sport.
“Guy Lafleur is part of the Canadiens’ family and the organization will provide all the necessary support to the members of his family and his close circle of friends during this extremely difficult time. On behalf of the Molson family, and all members of the Club de hockey Canadien organization, I extend my deepest sympathies to his wife Lise, his sons Martin and Mark, his mother Pierrette Lafleur, his grand-daughter Sienna-Rose and his sisters Lise, Gisèle, Suzanne and Lucie.”
Doctors discovered in Oct. 2020 that Lafleur’s lung cancer had returned. In Sep. 2019, he needed to have a lobe and lymph nodes removed from one of his lungs following quadruple-bypass heart surgery.
The news comes one week after fellow Hall of Famer Mike Bossy passed away after a battle with lung cancer.
A career full of accolades
Lafleur entered the NHL in the 1971-72 season with the Canadiens, the first of 14th straight the would play with the Habs. He recorded 100 points five times and helped them to five Stanley Cups, including four straight from 1976-1979. Between 1974-75 and 1979-80, he would become the first player in league history to score 50 goals in six straight seasons.
In 1985, Lafleur decided to retire after disagreeing with then-head coach Jacques Lemaire on how the team should play. General manager Serge Savard denied a trade request and the forward chose to walk away before returning in 1988 to finish out his NHL career with the New York Rangers and Quebec Nordiques.
Lafleur’s resume sees him with 560 goals, 1,353 points, three scoring titles, two MVPs, three Lester Pearson Awards as MVP voted on by the players, and the 1977 Conn Smythe Trophy winner. He remains the Canadiens franchise leader in points (1,246), assists (728), and game-winning goals (94).
Internationally, Lafleur represented Canada at the Canada Cup twice, helping them win in 1976.
In Feb. 1985, Lafleur joined Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau, and Henri Richard to become the fifth (at the time) player to have his jersey number (No. 10) retired by the Canadiens. Three years later he would be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
In 2017, Lafleur was honored by the NHL as one of the 100 greatest players in league history in a ceremony during All-Star Weekend in Los Angeles.
Lafleur is currently one of four statues outside of Bell Centre along with Morenz, Richard and Béliveau.
Three years after retiring, Lafleur decided to make a comeback, joining the Rangers and becoming only the second player (at that time) to resume their career after being inducted into the Hall of Fame.
His first game back in Montreal on Feb. 4, 1989 saw Lafleur score twice and record four points. Canadiens fans inside the Montreal Forum spent the night showing their love for “The Flower.”
“That was the first time I ever allowed a goal at the Forum and the guy who scored it received a standing ovation,” said Canadiens goalie Patrick Roy.
Lafleur retired a second time after the 1990-91 season after two seasons with the Nordiques.
“I’m retiring because I want to retire,” Lafleur said. “I’m ready. I’ll always regret that I can’t keep the great days with me forever, that I can’t go on forever scoring 50 goals a season, that my feet do not forever have wings, that my muscles never get tired. You hear the cheers and a light shines so brightly that it can blind you forever. But also, so brightly that it can light you the rest of your days.”
Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.