Back in 2000, Richmond resident Mark Babins checked a major item off his lifelong bucket list by attending Montreal Canadiens fantasy camp. It was there where he met several of his childhood idols of him, including Guy Lafleur.

“One of the funniest guys I’ve ever met and one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met,” Babins said of Lafleur, speaking to CTV News via Zoom from Mexico. “We just hit it off. We became like best buds of that week.”

So when news struck of Lafleur’s passing Friday, the lifelong Habs fan says he lost more than just a hockey hero.

“I was more emotional than I thought because he was just kind of a guy you meet, and he felt instantly as your friend,” said an emotional Babins.

Former Vancouver Canuck Dave Babych also has fond memories of the Hockey Hall of Famer. Babych grew up watching Lafleur, then played against him several times throughout his career. Babych says his favorite memory of Lafleur is when they briefly teamed up while playing for Team Canada at the 1981 Canada Cup.

“When you meet somebody and you get to know them, sometimes you’re crushed when you meet them because they might not be what you expect,” said Babych, 10 years younger than Lafleur. “But he was such a good guy, just such a class guy.”

“Well he was definitely a superstar,” said Dennis Kearns, former Canucks defenseman from 1971-81. “Playing with Jacques Lemaire and Steve Shutt, they were a wonderful line. He was one of the all-time greats.”

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Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau was also asked about playing against Lafleur.

“I remember playing against Guy and almost being enamored watching him more than playing against him,” said Boudreau at his daily Canucks press conference Friday. “When he wound up inside the blue line and his hair from him was just waiving back and forth, you could tell how fast he was going and he was almost impossible to stop.”

Babych adds that Lafleur will be remembered as one of the iconic figures of the game both on and off the ice.

“A lot of great people in hockey but then there’s those ones with that kind of aura around them, he certainly was one of them.”

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