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MHN Podcast: Remembering Guy Lafleur With Scotty Bowman

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Guy Lafleur

Guy Lafleur was a special player and a special person to the city of Montreal and the fans of the Montreal Canadiens.

The outpouring of love for Montreal Canadiens legend Guy Lafleur has been deservedly plentiful over the last few days since his passing. Lafleur’s impact on the city of Montreal and the province of Quebec was heard loud and clear on Sunday night, as the Bell Centre faithful cheered for the fallen legend with a legendary ovation that ironically lasted 10 minutes and 10 seconds.

Hall of Famer and legendary Montreal Canadiens head coach Scotty Bowman had a front row to Lafleur’s greatness on and off the ice and he took the time to recount it on the latest episode of the Montreal Hockey Now Podcast. The candid, funny and always informative Bowman shared his love and appreciation with my cohost Jimmy Murphy and me in one of those interviews that reminds those in our field how lucky we are to be doing what we’re doing:

Guy Lafleur, The Player

Bowman took the time to recount how Lafleur evolved from a young kid out of Turso, Quebec, to a cultural icon that left this mark in the memories of everyone who had the privilege to watch him play. Bowman remembered Lafleur’s early days and the struggles he had at first while breaking into the NHL.

“It was a lot of pressure, and he handled it the best he could,” said Bowman on Lafleur’s early days in the NHL. “He wasn’t a media darling at the beginning; he was quiet. He was always quiet.”

Bowman brought up the importance of having strong role models on the team like Yvan Cournoyer, but also around the team, like Lafleur’s childhood idol, Jean Béliveau. Having key veterans and alumni around the team helped Lafleur get his bearings in a new league at the very beginning of his career and work his way to an eventual Hall of Fame career.

“I’m sure Guy appreciated the fact that Jean Beliveau had been retired and in his corner to say ‘look, time will take care of everything,” said Bowman of Beliveau’s mentor-like role toward Lafleur.

Bowman brought up Lafleur’s hard work, on top of his immense talent, which helped him overcome adversity in his early years and push himself to get better. He reminisced on Lafleur’s desire to arrive at the rink early before practice to work on his game before the rest of his teammates would eventually join him. It spoke to the character of ‘Le Démon Blond’, who was never satisfied with the status quo and always sought to improve, a quality shared by the elite players of today’s game.

“He used to want to go on the ice no later than twenty to eleven, if we had an 11 am practice, “said Bowman of Lafleur’s dedication to the sport. “Not many players would start before 11. He’d go on the ice sometimes at 10:30. Just on the ice alone, put his equipment on, go on the ice, just skate around, take shots, go end to end. It must have been pretty boring, but he did it.”

Lafleur would go on to become the top offensive player on the Canadiens throughout the 1970s, and would become the Canadiens’ all-time leading scorer in the process. Bowman applauded the evolution in Lafleur’s game during that time, going from frustrated rookie to superstar veteran in a very short time. He pointed out a fitting passage that was brought up by Lafleur’s former teammate and fellow Hall of Famer, Ken Dryden, which best encapsulated the way his teammates thought of the Flower.

“Dryden put it best, ‘when you’re the best of the best, it’s something,'” said Bowman, paraphrasing Ken Dryden’s tribute to Guy Lafleur. “That’s coming from a teammate.”

To listen to the full episode of the Montreal Hockey Now Podcast, watch below or listen to us on Spotify or Apple Music:

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