Gainey, Houle, Cournoyer among ex-teammates who paid homage to ‘The Flower’
The remains of former Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur lay in state at the Bell Centre earlier this week, as fans and former team colleagues paid a final tribute on Sunday and Monday to Lafleur who passed away on April 22 at age 70.
A national funeral was held on Tuesday May 3 at 11:00 a.m. at Mary Queen of the World Cathedral in downtown Montreal. Some of Guy Lafleur’s former teammates shared some special memories of the Hockey-Hall-of-Famer.
Shortly before the start of the Bell Centre tribute, they gathered to share their favorite memories of Lafleur. As reported on NHL.com, a few of the alums included Yvan Cournoyer, Lucien DeBlois, Bob Gainey, Rick Green, Réjean Houle and Chris Nilan.
“When I saw him for the first time in Verdun, I said, ‘Wow!’ I’d won five Stanley Cups before he arrived,” said Cournoyer. “I said, ‘With this guy, I’m going to win more Stanley Cups.’ And I was right.
“I’ve been thinking about Guy the last two years when he started to get sick and having problems with his health, but you don’t forget a guy like Guy,” added Cournoyer.
“I’m talking about the man. The man is so popular, but he deserves it. He’s a natural with the people. Guy loves everybody and everybody loves him. He’s just a natural guy. We were together for 40 years, and every time we see each other, we shake hands. I’m going to miss him everyday.”
Bob Gainey shared this anecdote about the homecoming of Guy Lafleur after he joined the New York Rangers. “The first time the Rangers came to play at the Forum, he was not involved in the game, he was injured, so the expectation just built until he was going to make that appearance. At some point in the game, the score was tied and he had both New York Rangers goals.
“There were still a few of us left on the team who had been playing with him, and so we weren’t quite sure whether to cheer or not cheer for him,” Gainey added. “Ultimately, the Canadiens won the game, but I thought it was just an incredible story of perseverance and still being able to show flashes of brilliance that used to be so common, but maybe aren’t so common now.”
Réjean Houle remembers
Réjean Houle said: “What I remember most about Guy is, when we weren’t playing well, which wasn’t often, Scotty Bowman divided us into two teams and made us practice 5-on-5, 4-on-4 and 3-on-3. At 3-on-3, nobody could rival Guy Lafleur. If he had space on the ice, you couldn’t catch him. He was a notch above everybody else. When it was 3-on-3, everybody skated to the bench quickly so they wouldn’t have to practice against him because he was so good.”
Fans wishing to honor Lafleur’s memory by contributing to the Guy Lafleur Fund for Cancer Research can make a donation in his name to the Fondation du Centre hospitalier de l’Université de Montréal (CHUM).