Fans remember, honour Guy Lafleur before Canadiens-Senators game

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·3 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

OTTAWA — There was an abundance of Montreal Canadiens jerseys at Canadian Tire Centre Saturday night, and while most had the name of Price, Suzuki and Caufield on them many were thinking about Guy Lafleur.

The Canadiens legend died Friday at the age of 70 and Canadiens fans were mourning the loss of what many called the final member of the greatest French trio.

For many French-Canadian hockey fans, the names Jean Beliveau, Maurice Richard and Guy Lafleur symbolize hockey royalty. While all hold a special place in Canadiens history, most agreed there will never be another player with Lafleur’s style.

Neil Khan grew up in Montreal and loved watching Lafleur. His parents had emigrated from Trinidad and Tobago in the 1960s and soon became hockey fans.

Khan had a Lafleur jersey and has fond memories of his favourite player scoring against Boston in Game 7 of the 1979 semifinal series.

“Lafleur was my guy,” said Khan, who now lives in Toronto. “I had heard he was sick, but it’s very unfortunate.”

Khan picked up an autographed picture of Lafleur, Beliveau and Richard a few years back and says it will take on even greater meaning now.

Alain Mercier was one of the lucky ones who got to see Lafleur work his magic well before he became a household name.

Mercier lived in Buckingham, Que., just 15 minutes down the road from Lafleur’s hometown of Thurso, Que., and would often see him skating at the arena in Thurso when Lafleur was just a teenager.

Mercier’s family had become friends with the Lafleur family and over the years they always enjoyed visiting with the hockey superstar.

“It’s very sad news,” said Mercier. “He was such a generous guy and always willing to help in any way he can.”

Mercier recalled how locals would reach out to Lafleur for various fundraisers and he would always find a way to support the community.

He also recalled how Lafleur was someone who enjoyed having a good time, but was also willing to speak his mind.

“If he had something to say he would just say it,” Mercier said. “I don’t think you’ll ever find another Guy Lafleur on or off the ice. He was special.”

Sisters Tammy and Jessika Lacroix already had tickets to Saturday’s game before news of Lafleur’s passing was made public, but they said it felt special to watch the Canadiens play on this night.

The two grew up in the former Masson-Angers municipality, just down the road from Lafleur’s hometown, and heard all about the legend’s prowess on the ice.

“We didn’t really see him play, but he was such a legend,” said Tammy Lacroix. “Everyone talked about him and since we lived so close to his hometown you knew he was special. It’s very sad news.”

The sisters had heard the Senators planned to honour Lafleur and with so many Montreal fans in the building expected it would be special.

Prior to puck drop, the Senators showed video highlights of Lafleur, which led to a chant of “Guy, Guy,” as many got to their feet to tribute No. 10. The Senators also honoured Lafleur with a moment of silence.

“It’s a great loss,” said Daniel Desormeaux. “He was so young. He really was something special on the ice.”

Desormeaux was wearing a Senators jersey, but said prior to Ottawa joining the NHL, most fans in the area cheered for Montreal and that those of a certain age would absolutely have grown up watching the likes of Lafleur, Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2022.

Lisa Wallace, The Canadian Press

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting