Guy LaFleur can’t believe it. He celebrates his 70th birthday tomorrow. Like everyone else growing up, he can’t believe it. A chic from Denis Botvin won’t shake him up anymore. This is the reality, however.
“I haven’t seen anything,” he says to me, “the years have passed, I’ll tell you.”
“Tapuer, this doesn’t make sense!” “
Lafleur is watching the movie of his life.
“In this age we’re in, we tend to look more at what we’ve done than what’s going to happen. We don’t know what gets stuck at the end of the nose.
“The past, at least, is tangible. The future, you cannot look far ahead. You have to take the days one by one, and no more.
“In my case, I can’t plan long term.”
A new form of treatment
His health has been damaged in recent years, as we all know.
LaFleur is fighting lung cancer with the same determination and desire that marked him on the ice.
His voice is good.
At the beginning of October, he will undergo a new form of treatment. His doctor told him he would feel more tired.
“I’m going to lose my hair, but that’s okay,” he adds.
“As long as the results are positive, that’s all that matters.”
He is busy going to restaurants with friends and working around his house as Lac des Deux-Montagnes gives him a great view of nature.
Head full of memories
Like any athlete, Lafleur lived his career without stopping for his exploits. He didn’t have time for that.
What he had in mind was the next win, the next Stanley Cup. He took over his job, thirst for victory, and enjoyed the hockey environment of the time.
“Today, I realized what my life has been like for the past 50 years,” he says.
“I find it interesting to have the opportunity to do this, review my life, remember good and bad memories, and learn lessons that allow me to have a better quality of life.”
Special memories come back to him.
“The Quebec Pew, the Remparts and the Draft That Led Me to Canadians,” he quotes.
“My first getaway is a part of that too. These episodes have been some of the highlights of my career.”
Always a big mail
Amateurs don’t forget him. He receives mail every day. Letters are sent to him from Europe and even Asia.
Others are from Las Vegas, something LaFleur hadn’t seen before the National League moved to Sin City. Seattle is expected to join the group soon.
Once a week, he devotes about two hours to his mail. His heart is thrilled to see that fans continue to write to him 30 years after his second withdrawal from the competition.
“She survives,” he said.
“I’ve been asked to sign pictures, T-shirts and pucks. Most of these people then sell these items, but I don’t mind.
My name and photo continue to spread. He will fall dead the day he does not happen again. There comes a time when people don’t know what you’ve done.
“I still think I will be present in the collective memory for a while now. There are still generations who watched me play and future generations will speak of me again.”
Think of Maurice Richard.
In a 1971 documentary directed by Jill Gascon and produced by the National Film Board, Rocket said it would be funny for him not to be recognized on the street for the next 10 to 15 years.
“If we continue to talk about him today, it is because there are still many journalists who know his time,” LaFleur explains.
“Will it be the same in 20 or 30 years?” Will journalists talk about us again? He adds, speaking for himself and the other greats of his generation.
“We may replace our statues at the Bell Center with ones like the ghosts of the Forum.”
We can easily spot Lafleur’s humor here, but the statues of Howie Morenz, Maurice Richard, Jean Béliveau, and Lafleur are here to stay.
We will not be able to unravel them from their base. These characters did not commit moral crimes.
These are legends who lived a good life.
In the right place at the right time
LaFleur considers himself fortunate to have worked in the decades from 1960 to 1990.
“We had the advantage of playing at a time when hockey was really unusual,” says Lafleur.
“I think those were the best years of the National League. I knew players like Morris and Henry Richard, who I played with, Elmer Lash, Bobby Russo, Uriel Goliath, and others who fought to build the Canadian dynasty.
“For those of us who followed, it was important to win and carry on the winning tradition our ancestors created.”
The Quebec players were proud to play for the Canadians and as LaFleur pointed out, there were some great players.
And it wasn’t about the money.
“Hockey has always been a business, but it used to be more for the owners than the players,” says Lafleur.
“We had fun, we did everything to win as many matches as possible. We were excited. There was a lot of sympathy between the players. We weren’t a team, we were a family.”
Do not believe that Lafleur is bitter and sad. It’s not his style.
All he wants is better health. It is the blessing we wish him.
Happy birthday, guy!
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