Guy Lafleur was then 19 years old and he was carefree. All the newspapers were talking about him. The Canadiens and the world of professional hockey were looking forward to it. But to the great displeasure of Réjean Lafleur, his son did not seem in a hurry to leave. The father even told the biographer Georges Hébert-Germain that a good ten minutes after finally leaving the house, Guy had turned back to go get… his sunglasses.

He was driving a gleaming Buick Riviera donated by the Quebec Remparts and he was about to enter through the front door into the most prestigious hockey team in the world. It was probably the happiest day of his young life.

Caught in the congestion of the metropolis – some things don’t change – the Lafleur family finally showed up at the Queen Elizabeth at the very last minute, somewhere between 11 a.m. and noon. Just before Sam Pollock uttered Guy’s name and made him the first-ever draft pick.

***

No later than last October, when we paid tribute to him in Quebec, Guy Lafleur said that a few weeks after this historic draft day, he had lunch with Jean Béliveau. The latter and his wife Élise had welcomed him into their home when he arrived in Montreal.

Gripped by emotion, Lafleur remembered that Big Bill, who had just announced his retirement, had advised him to savor every moment of his career because time flies quickly.

Jean said to me: “You’ll see, it goes by quickly”. And I said to myself: “I am 19 years old, it will not pass so quickly as that”. But I must confess to you that I did not see it passLafleur had confided, eyes full of water, as a magnificent statue of him was unveiled.

Sport is a metaphor for life, which also passes extremely quickly. And that too, Jean Béliveau had testified to a few years before his death.

***

On Tuesday May 3, 2022, almost 51 years after the 1971 draft, and around the same time, Guy Lafleur was saluted for the last time at the Marie-Reine-du-Monde cathedral, a few meters from the grand hotel. where his trajectory as a national hero had begun.

Time has indeed flown by like lightning. The loop has been closed. And what an amazing loop it was.

People in a cathedral applaud the passage of a coffin covered with a sheet in the colors of the Montreal Canadiens.

Guy Lafleur’s coffin leaves the Marie-Reine-du-Monde cathedral to the applause of the people gathered for the funeral.

Photo: The Canadian Press / Paul Chiasson

In 1971, Lafleur was welcomed into the Canadian family by Sam Pollock, Scotty Bowman, Claude Ruel and new teammates curious to see this young phenomenon everyone was talking about at work.

To say goodbye to him on Monday, alongside the family of the deceased, prime ministers and former prime ministers, elected officials and dignitaries of all kinds crowded into the pews of the cathedral.

You really have to have transcended hockey to have the premiers of Quebec and Canada sit side by side for two hourswhispered a valued colleague who had the privilege of covering the 1970s dynasty.

The ceremony was presided over by the Archbishop of Montreal, Mgr Christian Lépine, who was accompanied by the Cardinal (and Archbishop of Quebec) Mgr Gérald Cyprien Lacroix. Until the very end, the name of Guy Lafleur will therefore have been simultaneously linked to Montreal and Quebec.

***

Several generations of CH employees and players were present, including all the players of the current edition. The owners, managers and representatives of other NHL organizations, as well as commissioner Gary Bettman, also made the trip to participate in this final tribute.

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Joe Sakic chats with members of the media at Guy Lafleur’s state funeral. PHOTO: IVANOH DEMERS/RADIO-CANADA

Photo: Radio-Canada / Ivanoh Demers

Joe Sakic, who had Guy Lafleur as a mentor when he started with the Quebec Nordiques, was present even if the Colorado Avalanche, of which he is the big boss, began their playoffs the same evening.

Guy Lafleur has often carried his team on his shoulders during his career. It was immensely sad, and very beautiful at the same time, to see Mario Tremblay, Guy Lapointe, Yvon Lambert, Steve Shutt and Pierre Bouchard join Martin and Mark Lafleur to carry their father’s coffin, wrapped in the CH flag.

Yes, time has flown. The hair has turned gray. The backs are a little arched and the steps a little less assured. But somewhere, their many tears are the irrefutable proof that there is a bond between these men that will never be undone.

***

Martin Lafleur gave a touching and eloquent testimony about a father he had to share with the public throughout his life.

My father always took care of his family despite his many commitments. He really liked being with us. He brought me with him to practices and even if he was not demonstrative, I felt all his pride. I felt that he wanted me to become part of his team.

He always wanted the best for us. To say that my father was generous is obvious. He wanted to take care of everyone, even people he didn’t know. And his humility has always impressed me. He remained himself despite all the attention paid to him. […] My Dad Wasn’t Perfect, But He Did Everything To Make Us Happyhe testified, while taking the time to thank the supporters who supported his father until the end.

Guy Lafleur’s sister-in-law, Francine Barré, greeted the one who lived his life as he played hockey, with passion, determination and passion.

We have been part of the same family for 50 years and we have never gone to a restaurant or any other place without someone asking for their autograph. And he always signed, taking the time to address a few words to each person. One could recognize the generous being that he was.

Guy did things his way. It was a rough diamond that no one could polish and I tip my hat to him for that. Like all of you, I will remember the great hockey player he was, his so natural skating, his smile and his flying hair. But above all, I will remember the humble, generous, upright and honest man he was.she underlined, with aplomb, sensitivity and depth.

***

Geoff Molson, Yvan Cournoyer, Larry Robinson, Guy Carbonneau and Patrick Roy also paraded at the microphone, each telling how much the talent, humility, generosity and charisma of Guy Lafleur had touched them, impressed them and had influenced their career. .

Larry Robinson had been drafted after Guy Lafleur, in the second round of the June 1971 draft. He too was across the street 51 years ago. He delivered his address in both languages, a mark of delicacy that Cardinal Lacroix, judging by his admiring gaze, seemed to appreciate.

Guy said you had to play every day as if it were your last. Not only did he play every game to the fullest, but he also lived to the fullest off the ice. I want to thank everyone who is here today to celebrate the life of this amazing manhe said.

A woman sings at a funeral.

Ginette Reno

Photo: The Canadian Press / Paul Chiasson

Patrick Roy argued that social networks had revealed in the last ten days that half of Quebecers, including former NHL players, had a photo of themselves with Guy Lafleur.

In his eyes, it testifies uncommon generosity, outspokenness, authenticity, deep respect for fans, willingness to give back, concern for others and a willingness to take, with people, that moment that makes all the difference.

Ginette Reno, for her part, made the columns of the cathedral tremble by interpreting The essential.

If the words of this magnificent song are correct and the main thing is really to be loved, Guy Lafleur has managed a faultless course during his too short stay with us.



Reference-ici.radio-canada.ca

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