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Legendary Hockey Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, who led the Montreal Canadiens to five Stanley Cup championships, including four consecutive titles, died on Friday after a three-year battle with cancer, the team announced. He was 70.
Lafleur, famous for the Canadiens total domination of the 1970s, died in a palliative care center in Montreal, according to NHL.com. “The Flower,” as he was nicknamed, was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019 after tumors were discovered during an emergency heart surgery.
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He underwent a second surgery to remove the tumors months later but in October 2020, the cancer had returned.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Guy Lafleur. All members of the Canadiens organization are devastated by his passing,” Geoff Molson, owner, President and CEO of the Montreal Canadiens, said in a statement. “Guy had an exceptional career and always remained humble, accessible and close to the Habs and hockey fans in Quebec, Canada and around the world. Throughout his career, he allowed us to experience great moments of collective pride.”
“He was one of the greatest players in our organization while becoming an extraordinary ambassador for our organization and for hockey.”
Lafleur played 17 seasons in the NHL, totaling 560 goals and 793 assists in 1,126 games. He holds the Canadiens’ all-time record for assists and points and scored at least 50 goals in six straight seasons from 1974-75 to 1979-80.
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“You didn’t need to see Guy Lafleur’s name and number on his sweater when ‘The Flower’ had the puck on his stick,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “As distinctively stylish as he was remarkably talented, Lafleur cut a dashing and unmistakable figure whenever he blazed down the ice of the Montreal Forum, his long blond locks flowing in his wake as he prepared to rifle another puck past a helpless goaltender – or set up a linemate for a goal.”
“The National Hockey League mourns the passing of the iconic Guy Lafleur and sends its deepest condolences to his wife, Lise; his sons, Martin and Mark; his mother, Pierrette; his granddaughter, Sienna Rose; his four sisters and the entire Lafleur family; and the millions of hockey fans he thrilled.”
Lafleur won the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer three straight years from 1976 to 1978, the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 1977 and 1978, and the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1977.
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He retired from the NHL in 1985 and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1988 but would return for three more seasons, first with the New York Rangers and then with the Quebec Nordiques.
Lafleur is remembered as one of the pillars of one of the greatest dynasties in hockey history.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.