Lafleur, Guy

Guy Lafleur

1951-

Canadian hockey player

Right wing/center Guy Lafleur was one of the best scorers of his generation. Winning three Art Ross Trophies as the National Hockey League's (NHL) leading scorer, Lafleur scored with power and grace. He was an all-around player, with strong skating, puck handling, and passing skills, an accurate shot, and the strength to handle defenders. Lafleur also won several Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe Trophy as play-off most valuable player, and a Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

Lafleur was born on September 20, 1951 in Thurso, Quebec, Canada, the only son of five children born to Rejean (a welder) and Pierette Lafleur. Lafleur learned to skate on a local outdoor rink that his father and their neighbors built. The young Lafleur loved hockey from an early age, to the point that he would sleep in his equipment.

When Lafleur was fifteen-years-old, he began playing junior hockey first for the Quebec Aces from 1966-69, then for the Quebec Remparts in 1969-71. He had an amazing season in 1970-71. In sixty-two games, Lafleur scored 209 points.

Drafted by the Canadiens

In the 1971 Amateur Draft, Lafleur was selected in the first round by the Montreal Canadiens. When he was drafted, it was with high expectations. He was to save the struggling franchise. Though he scored at least fifty points in each of his first three seasons, he did not post brilliant numbers until the mid-1970s.

When Lafleur's contract with the Canadiens expired in 1974, he had an offer to join the World Hockey League's Quebec Nordiques. Though he did not take the offer, it would have removed him from the pressure of expectations of the Canadiens. Instead he plowed through, refusing to be intimated by those who played tough defense on him. Lafleur continued to develop his own strong defensive skills to complement his artistic offensive skills.

Became Leading Scorer

The 1974-75 season was Lafleur's best offensive year to date, with fifty-three goals and sixty-six assists in the regular season. In eleven playoff games, he had twelve goals and seven assists. This was the first of six consecutive seasons in which he scored fifty plus goals.

By 1975-76, Lafleur had hit his stride, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league's leading scorer in 1976 and the Lester B. Pearson Award. He had fifty-six goals and sixty-nine assists. He also won the Stanley Cup against Philadelphia in four games. Lafleur contributed two game winning goals.

Lafleur continued to dominate in the 1976-77 and 1977-78 seasons, winning the Ross Trophy, Hart Trophy, Lester B. Pearson Award, and the Stanley Cup again in both seasons. In 1977, he also won the Conn Smythe Trophy as most valuable player in the playoffs. In both playoffs, Lafleur scored ten goals and eleven assists.

Chronology

1951 Born in Thurso, Quebec, Canada, on September 20
1966-69 Plays junior hockey for the Quebec Aces
1969-71 Plays junior hockey for the Quebec Remparts
1970-71 In 62 games for the Remparts, scores 209 points
1971 Drafted in first round of the Amateur Draft; begins professional playing career with the Montreal Canadiens
1984 Retires from hockey with the Canadiens; briefly works for the team
1988 Makes return to professional hockey with the New York Rangers
1989 Signs with the Quebec Nordiques
1991 Retires from professional hockey
1992 Works as director of corporate affairs for the Quebec Nordiques
1993 Leaves the Nordiques to be vice president of Titrex
1999 Earns helicopter pilot license

By this time, Lafleur was recognized as a great hockey player. He told Robert Fachet of the Washington Post, "It is more difficult playing for the Canadiens. There is lots more pressure on you. But I'm sure most guys on our team would not want to go to a team that's not winning. You never get tired of winning." He capitalized on his fame by doing many commercials in the late 1970s. He won his last Stanley Cup in 1979.

Though Lafleur continued to post high numbers in the late 1970s, he could not match them in the first half of the 1980s. Though he had eighty-four points in the 1981-82 season, he feuded with coaches, including Jacques Lemaire, who put a defense-first system on the ice. Lafleur also had tax and injury problems, which affected his game.

Short-Lived Retirement

Lafleur only played in nineteen games in the 1984-85 season. His speed and skating skills had diminished, and he was played on the third or fourth line. Lafleur was frustrated by his lack of playing time and burned out by his dealings with management. He felt his coach destroyed his confidence by not using him in big goal situations. Scoring only two goals and three assists in the nineteen games, Lafleur retired from hockey in November 1984 because management would not change.

After retiring, Lafleur was hired to work for the Canadiens in public relations, but this was short-lived. He continued playing hockey in a recreational league. The lure of playing professionally was too great. After he was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1988, Lafleur decided to unretire a few days later. He began to train in earnest as soon as he was mentally ready. As Stan Fischler quoted him as saying in The All-New Hockey's 100, "Hockey is like a drug for me. I am hooked. I can't do anything about it."

Returned to Professional Hockey

After being turned down by several teams, Lafleur went to training camp in 1988 with the New York Rangers. He played well enough to earn a spot on the team. Though Lafleur was not the same player he was at the height of his career, he made contributions. He scored eighteen goals and twenty-seven assists in sixty-seven games, and gave the team stability in the face of front office turmoil.

In 1989, Lafleur signed with the Quebec Nordiques when the Rangers did not match their offer. Thus he was traded to Quebec for $100,000 and a draft choice. Lafleur played for two more seasons before finally retiring in 1991.

After spending a year working in the front office of the Quebec Nordiques as director of corporate affairs, Lafleur went to Titrex as a vice president of public relations in 1993. But hockey still had its lure for him. He played in a number of old timers games, including the Old timer's Hockey Challenge Tour, which benefited the Ontario Special Olympics. He also worked for the Montreal Canadiens as a Special Ambassador, making special appearances for the team. In recognition of his impact on hockey, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League named their most valuable player in the playoffs trophy after him. Off the ice, in 1999, Lafleur earned his helicopter pilot license and considered starting a related transport business.

Career Statistics

Yr Team GP G A PTS +/ PIM
Canadiens: Montreal Canadiens (NHL); Nordiques: Quebec Nordiques (NHL); Rangers: New York Rangers (NHL).
1971-72 Canadiens 73 29 35 64 +27 48
1972-73 Canadiens 69 28 27 55 +16 51
1973-74 Canadiens 73 21 35 56 +10 29
1974-75 Canadiens 70 53 66 119 +52 37
1975-76 Canadiens 80 56 69 125 +68 36
1976-77 Canadiens 80 56 80 136 +89 20
1977-78 Canadiens 78 60 72 132 +73 26
1978-79 Canadiens 80 52 77 129 +56 28
1979-80 Canadiens 74 50 75 125 +40 12
1980-81 Canadiens 51 27 43 70 +24 29
1981-82 Canadiens 66 27 57 84 +33 24
1982-83 Canadiens 68 27 49 76 +6 12
1983-84 Canadiens 80 30 40 70 -14 19
1984-85 Canadiens 19 2 3 5 -3 10
1988-89 Rangers 67 18 27 45 +1 12
1989-90 Nordiques 39 12 22 34 -15 4
1990-91 Nordiques 59 12 16 28 -10 2
TOTAL 1126 560 793 1353 +453 399

Over the course of his career, Lafleur played in 1028 regular season games, with 509 goals and 793 assists. In 128 playoff games, he had fifty-eight goals and seventy-six assists. Known as "the Flower" (the literal meaning of his last name), his legacy was his undying love for the game and his scoring expertise. As sportswriter Bill Libby was quoted as saying on LegendsofHockey.net, "He is an artist on skates, creating scoring plays the way a painter puts a vivid scene on a canvas with a brush. He is a spectacular athlete in a spectacular sport and it is wonderful watching him work."

Awards and Accomplishments

1970-71 Quebec Junior Hockey League All-Star (first team)
1975 All-Star (first team)
1976 Won Art Ross Trophy; won the Stanley Cup; All-Star (first team); won Lester B. Pearson Award
1977 Won Art Ross Trophy; won Hart Trophy; won Conn Smythe Trophy; won Stanley Cup; All-Star (first team); won Lester B. Pearson Award
1978 Won Art Ross Trophy; won Hart Trophy; won Stanley Cup; All-Star (first team); won Lester B. Pearson Award
1979 Won Stanley Cup; All-Star (first team)
1980 All-Star (first team)
1988 Elected to the Hall of Fame

CONTACT INFORMATION

Address: 14 Place du Moulin, L'ile-Bizard, Quebec H9E 1N2 Canada.

FURTHER INFORMATION

Books

Diamond, Dan, and Joseph Romain. Hockey Hall of Fame: The Official History of the Game and Its Greatest Stars. New York: Doubleday, 1988.

Fischler, Stan. The All-New Hockey's 100: A Personal Ranking of the Best Players in Hockey History. Toronto: McGraw-Hill Ryerson Ltd., 1988.

Hickok, Ralph. A Who's Who of Sports Champions: Their Stories and Records. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1995.

Kariher, Harry C. Who's Who in Hockey. New Rochelle: Arlington House, 1973.

McGovern, Mike. The Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Athletes. New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2001.

Periodicals

"Canadiens' Lafleur Retires as Player." New York Times (November 27, 1984): B12.

Dupont, Kevin. "Lafleur Wilts in Reverse Role." New York Times (May 4, 1984): A25.

Fachet, Robert. "It's All Coming Back to a Hustling Ranger; Hall of Famer Lafleur Gathering Speed." Washington Post (October 19, 1988): C1.

Fachet, Robert. "Lafleur Still Tingles Before Canadien Games; Lafleur as an Artist: the Young Rafael." Washington Post (May 16, 1978): E1.

Finn, Robin. "Lafleur Impressing Rangers." New York Times (September 29, 1988): B19.

Finn, Robin. "Lafleur, 37, Returns to Prove a Point." New York Times (October 17, 1988): C13.

Lapointe, Joe. "Lafleur's Next Goal a Historical One." New York Times (November 23, 1989): B21.

McEntegart, Pete. "Catching Up With : Guy Lafleur, Canadiens Hall of Famer." Sports Illustrated (February 7, 1977): 12.

McGraw, Bill. "Lafleur, in an Encore, Bids Fans Adieu." New York Times (April 1, 1991): C8.

McRae, Earl. "Lafleur Still Creating Little Bits of Heaven for Adoring Fans." Ottawa Sun (April 15, 2001): 5.

Murphy, Austin. "The late-blooming flower; out of the game four years, Guy Lafleur attempts a comeback." Sports Illustrated (September 26, 1988): 88.

Richman, Alan. "Guy Lafleur, hockey's faded flower, blooms anew in New York." People Weekly (February 6, 1989): 57.

Sexton, Joe. "Lafleur Gets a Shot with the Rangers." New York Times (August 20, 1988): section 1, p. 47.

Sexton, Joe. "Rangers Send Lafleur Back Home in Deal with Nordiques." New York Times (July 15, 1989): section 1, p. 45.

Yannis, Alex. "Lafleur Dispelling Doubts." New York Times (September 13, 1988): B7.

Other

"Guy Lafleur." http://www.hockeysandwich.com/lafleur.html (November 2, 2002).

"The Legends: Players: Guy Lafleur: Biography." Legends of Hockey. http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/Legen (November 2, 2002).

"The Legends: Players: Guy Lafleur: Statistics." Legends of Hockey. http://www.legendsofhockey.net:8080/LegendsOfHockey/jsp/Legen (November 2, 2002).

Sketch by A. Petruso

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Petruso, A.. "Lafleur, Guy." Notable Sports Figures. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Jul. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

Petruso, A.. "Lafleur, Guy." Notable Sports Figures. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. (July 26, 2016). http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3407900314.html

Petruso, A.. "Lafleur, Guy." Notable Sports Figures. 2004. Retrieved July 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3407900314.html