Canadian professional ice hockey player, Guy Damien Lafleur, nicknamed “The Flower” and “Le Démon Blond”, has passed away at the age of 70 . He was the first player in National Hockey League (NHL) history to score 50 goals in six consecutive seasons as well as 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. Between 1971 and 1991, Lafleur played right wing for the Montreal Canadiens, New York Rangers, and Quebec Nordiques in an NHL career spanning 17 seasons, and five Stanley Cup championships in 1973, 1976, 1977, 1978, and 1979 (all with the Canadiens). In 2017 Lafleur was named one of the ‘100 Greatest NHL Players’ in history.
For decades, Lafleur — nicknamed “The Flower” — scored seemingly with ease at all levels of hockey and grew into the role of one of the game’s flashiest superstars. He often mesmerized fans with his signature long blond hair flowing behind him as he rushed up the ice before unleashing one of his patented booming slapshots. Lafleur played junior hockey for the Quebec Jr. Aces and Quebec Remparts. He amassed a staggering 465 points in two seasons and two playoffs with the Remparts, leading the team to the Memorial Cup title in 1971. His scoring prowess was so dominating in the late ’70s that legendary Hockey Night in Canada broadcaster Dick Irvin Jr. called him the greatest player in the world.
Lafleur transcended the sport despite his known habit of smoking cigarettes. Former coach Scotty Bowman said he would even smoke between periods. At only 33 years old, he abruptly announced his retirement weeks into the 1984 season. For the next three years, Lafleur generally only played publicly in charity hockey events, and he was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. That same year, New York Rangers general manager Phil Esposito convinced him to come out of retirement and return to the NHL. Lafleur played a season in New York, highlighted by a two-goal performance at the fabled Montreal Forum, resulting in a rare standing ovation for an opposing player. He then played two more years with his hometown Quebec Nordiques before calling it a career for a second and final time following the 1991 season.
Today his statue stands outside Montreal’s Bell Centre arena alongside Canadiens all-time greats Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard and Béliveau. His No. 10 hangs in the rafters of the arena after being retired on Feb. 16, 1985. At the time it was the sixth number retired by the Canadiens franchise. The cause of death was not immediately known. However, Lafleur suffered through health issues in the latter stages of his life. In September 2019, he underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery, which was followed by lung surgery two months later. Then, in October of 2020, he endured a recurrence of lung cancer. Lafleur is survived by his two sons, Mark and Martin, and his wife, Lise.