Guy Lafleur, member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, dies at the age of 70 | Sports News

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MONTREAL (AP) — Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, who helped the Montreal Canadiens win five Stanley Cup titles in the 1970s, has died at the age of 70.

First overall in the 1971 NHL Draft, Lafleur scored 518 goals and 728 assists in 14 seasons with Montreal. With the brilliant forward in the lead, the Canadiens won it all in 1973, then four more times from 1976 to 1979.

Canadiens president Geoff Molson said the organization was devastated.

“Guy Lafleur has had an exceptional career and has always remained simple, accessible and close to Canadians and hockey fans in Quebec, Canada and around the world,” Molson said in a statement. Throughout his career, he has 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.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a known Habs fan, said Lafleur was “different from everyone else on the ice.”

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“His speed, skill and score were hard to believe,” Trudeau said on Twitter. “A record-breaker and five-time Stanley Cup champion, he inspired countless Quebecers, Canadians and hockey fans around the world.

“We will miss you, number 10.”

Nicknamed “The Flower”, LaFleur was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 when tumors were discovered by doctors performing an emergency quadruple heart bypass.

Two months later, he went back under the knife to remove both the upper lobe of his lungs and his lymph nodes.

Lafleur, however, received bad news in October 2020 that the cancer had returned, forcing him to resume treatment.

“I get the immunotherapy the first three weeks, then the fourth week I have the big chemo,” Lafleur said in an interview with The Canadian Press in November.

“It’s the chemotherapy that really hurts you.”

Lafleur’s family released a statement earlier this month thanking fans for their empathy and the ‘outpouring of love’ showed the greatness of the Canadians, adding that he was being watched closely by doctors and had occasional medical examinations, but that he was at home.

Lafleur, who retired from the NHL in 1985 after Montreal refused his trade request, was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988. But he made a comeback later that year with the New York Rangers, then played two more seasons with the Quebec Nordiques before hanging up their skates for good in 1991.

“You didn’t need to see Guy Lafleur’s name and number on his jersey when ‘The Flower’ had the puck on his stick,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “As stylish as he is remarkably talented, Lafleur has a dashing and unmistakable figure every time he took to the ice at the Montreal Forum, his long blonde locks flowing in his wake as he prepared to fire another puck ahead. a helpless goalkeeper – or to set up a teammate for a goal.

Named one of the NHL’s 100 Greatest Players of All Time in 2017, Lafleur finished with 560 goals and 793 assists in 1,126 games over his 17 seasons.

He holds the all-time Canadiens record for assists and points. He scored at least 50 times in six consecutive campaigns from 1974-75 to 1979-80.

Lafleur won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer three consecutive years from 1976 to 1978, the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player in 1977 and 1978, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the league’s most valuable player. playoffs in 1977.

“As a boy in Montreal, Guy was larger than life for me,” fellow Hall of Fame forward Mario Lemieux said in a statement. “I idolized him as a player, respected him as a person and always cherished him as a friend. He will be missed.”

Lafleur underwent his quadruple bypass surgery in September 2019 after discovering that four of his coronary arteries were completely blocked and a fifth was nearly 90% clogged, during a routine medical examination to renew his pilot’s license. ‘helicopter.

Once the cancer was discovered, he had a third of his right lung removed by doctors two months later.

A lifelong smoker until these health issues, Lafleur had partnered with Merck Canada as part of its “Be The MVP” campaign to raise awareness about early detection of lung cancer.

“There aren’t too many people who have a chance to grab it early on,” Lafleur said during his November interview with CP. “Most people, when they find out, it’s stage 4.

“It’s not too late, because there are miracles out there and there are people surviving.”

Lafleur, who had his No. 10 jersey stripped by the Canadiens in 1985, hadn’t been out in public much in recent years following his cancer diagnosis and the COVID-19 pandemic, but received a thunderous ovation at the Bell Center during the Montreal event. unlikely run to last season’s Cup final.

He also had his number retired by the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in October.

“I’ve been mostly stuck at home since 2019,” Lafleur said in November. “Mentally, it’s tough. I hope I get through it and come out of it with a win.

“That’s the hope for everyone who has cancer.”

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