Guy Lafleur cannot believe it. He is celebrating his 70th birthday tomorrow. Like everyone else who is getting older, he can’t believe it. A check from Denis Potvin would not have shaken him any more. It is the reality, however.
“I haven’t seen anything, the years go by, I’ll tell you,” he says to me.
“Taboire, that doesn’t make sense!” “
Lafleur watches the film of his life.
“At the age that we have reached, we are more inclined to watch what we have done than what will happen. We do not know what hangs at the end of the nose.
“The past, at least, is concrete. The future, you can’t look too far ahead. You have to take the days one at a time, not more than that.
“In my case, I can’t plan for the long term. “
NEW FORM OF TREATMENT
His health has taken a hit in recent years, as we all know.
Lafleur fights lung cancer with the same determination and desire that characterized him on the ice.
His voice is good.
At the beginning of October, he will undergo a new form of treatment. His doctor has told him that he will feel more tired.
“I’m going to lose my hair, but that’s okay,” he adds.
“Provided the results are positive, that’s all that matters. “
He keeps himself busy by going to restaurants with friends and by working around his home where the Lac des Deux-Montagnes gives him a magnificent view of nature.
Like any athlete, Lafleur has lived his career without stopping to his exploits. He didn’t have time for that.
What he had in mind was the next victory, the next Stanley Cup to go for. He was taken by his job, he thirsted for victory, he enjoyed the hockey environment of the time.
“Today, I realize what my life has been like for the past 50 years,” he says.
“I find it fun to have the opportunity to do that, to review my life, to remember the good and the bad memories and to learn the lessons that allow me to have a better quality of life. “
Special memories come back to her.
“The Quebec Peewee Tournament, the Remparts and the draft that led me to the Canadiens,” he quotes.
“My first retirement is part of that too. These episodes were highlights in my career. “
ALWAYS LARGE MAIL
The amateurs do not forget it. He receives mail every day. Letters are sent to him from Europe and even Asia.
Others are from Las Vegas, which Lafleur hadn’t seen before the National League moved to Sin City. He expects Seattle to join the pack soon.
Once a week, he devotes about two hours to his mail. It warms his heart to see that fans continue to write to him 30 years after his second withdrawal from competition.
“It keeps alive,” he said.
“I am asked to autograph photos, jerseys, pucks. Most of these people then sell these items, but I don’t mind.
“My name and my image continue to circulate. It’ll drop dead the day it doesn’t happen again. There comes a time when people don’t know what you did.
“I still think I will remain present in the collective memory for a while yet. There are still generations who have seen me play and the next will talk about me again. “
Think of Maurice Richard.
In a documentary directed by Gilles Gascon and produced by the National Film Board in 1971, the Rocket said that it would be funny to him not to be recognized in 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 knew his time,” explains Lafleur.
“Will it be the same in 20 or 30 years?” Are the journalists going to talk about us again? he adds, speaking of himself and the other greats of his generation.
“We may replace our statues at the Bell Center with others like the Ghosts of the Forum. “
We can easily recognize 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 unbolt them from their base. These characters did not commit moral crimes.
These are legends who have led a good life.
IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
Lafleur considers himself lucky to have made a career in the decades 1960 to 1990.
“We had the advantage of playing at a time when hockey was really extraordinary,” says Lafleur.
“I think those were the best years for the National League. Players like me have known Maurice and Henri Richard, with whom I played, Elmer Lach, Bobby Rousseau, Aurèle Joliat and many others who fought to build the Canadian dynasty.
“For us who followed them, it was important to win and carry on the winning tradition that our predecessors had created. “
Quebec players were proud to play for the Canadiens and as Lafleur points out, there were some great ones.
And it wasn’t about money.
“Hockey has always been a business, but it used to be more for owners than players,” says Lafleur.
“We had fun, we did everything to win as many games as possible. We were passionate. There was a lot of compassion between the players. We weren’t a team, we were a family. “
Do not believe that Lafleur is bitter and melancholy. It’s not his style.
All he wants is better health. It is the grace we wish him.
Happy birthday, Guy!
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