The team announced Friday, the death of Canadian Montreal legend Guy Lafleur. He was 70 years old.
The cause of death has not been revealed, but LaFleur announced his last diagnosis of right lung cancer in October 2020. He had previously had lobular carcinoma removed from his left lung in 2019.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jay LaFleur,” Canadiens owner Jeff Molson said in a statement. “All members of the Canadiens are devastated by his passing. Guy Lafleur has had an exceptional career and has always remained simple, accessible, and close to Habs and hockey fans in Quebec, Canada and around the world. Throughout his career, he has allowed us to experience great moments of collective pride. He has been one of the greatest players in our organization while becoming an exceptional ambassador for our sport.”
The winger known as “The Flower” and “The Blond Demon” played 14 seasons with Montreal (1971-1985) and was a cornerstone for five Stanley Cup winning teams, including in 1977, when he was awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP. Strong on the ice, LaFleur became the first player in league history to produce six consecutive seasons with over 50 goals and over 100 points (1974-80).
During the height of his career in the 1970s, LaFleur was a three-time Art Ross winner as the NHL points leader, two-time Hart Cup winner as the NBA Player of the Year and three-time winner of the Lester B. Pearson (now Ted Lindsay) Player of the Year award according to the Players Association. NHL.
NHL Commissioner Gary Pittman honored LaFleur’s unmistakable flair as a player.
“She didn’t need to see Jay LaFleur’s name and number on his jacket when ‘The Flower’ was lying on his wand,” Bateman said in a statement. As distinctively elegant as he was remarkably talented, Lafleur cut an unmistakably dashing figure whenever the ice of the Montreal Forum caught fire, his long blonde locks flowing at his heels as he prepared to shoot a puck ball back in front of a helpless goalkeeper—or create a streak for some purpose.”
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a Canadian fan, said LaFleur was “like no one else on the ice”.
“His speed, skill and scoring were hard to believe,” Trudeau said in a statement. “…My thoughts are with all who mourn this tremendous loss – in Quebec, across Canada, and around the world. We will miss you, Number 10.”
LaFleur struggled with injuries in the 1980s and head-butting with coach Jacques Lemerre when he took charge during the 1983-84 season. The two played together during some of the Canadians’ best seasons in the 1970s, but they didn’t find the same common ground as coach and player. Lafleur asked Montreal General Manager Serge Savard about a deal in 1985 and it was denied. LaFleur eventually decided to retire.
Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988, LaFleur decided that same year not to lay off and return to the NHL for the New York Rangers. At the time, Jordi Howe was the only one to return to the NHL after entering the hall; Mario Lemio did it years later.
After one season in New York, Lafleur moved on to spend two years with Quebec Nordiques – where he mentored future star Joe Sakic – before stopping his skates permanently in 1991.
Born in Thurso, Quebec, Lafleur grew up adoring Montreal legend Jean Bellevue. After a successful career in junior hockey, Lafleur was first drafted publicly by the Canadiens in 1971 and went on to become an icon of the franchise in his own right, with his number 10 jacket retired by the team in 1985. His number was also retired by the Hockey League Quebec Junior Home in October.
LaFleur was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 when doctors discovered tumors that they performed quadruple emergency heart surgery. Two months later, he went under the knife again to remove the upper lobe of his lung and some lymph nodes.
A heavy smoker until those health concerns, LaFleur was partnering with Merck Canada as part of its “Be The MVP” campaign to raise awareness about early detection of lung cancer.
Finally, LaFleur appeared in 1,126 NHL games with 560 goals and 1,353 points. In 2017, he was named one of the 100 Greatest NHL Players of All Time.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
“Alcohol enthusiast. Twitter ninja. Tv lover. Falls down a lot. Hipster-friendly coffee geek.”