Despite their differences, friendship and respect between Jacques Lemaire and Guy Lafleur

“I saw that our friendship was no longer the same. When we played we were always together. We played on the same line and we were roommates. Later we went different ways.

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From his Florida residence, where he remotely holds the position of special counsel for the New York Islanders, Jacques Lemaire recognizes this: his relationship with Guy Lafleur, the one he helped terrorize the guards in the 1970s, crumbled when he found out Canadiens-Bank replaced Bob Berry in February 1984.

According to the story, it was his desire to make Lafleur aware of the importance of the defensive side of his game that drove the blonde demon to early retirement on November 26, 1984 at the age of 33.

“I have to admit that it was difficult times for him. People who watched hockey saw the same thing,” Lemaire said in a phone interview The newspaper.

Difficult to say the least. Lafleur had 28 goals on the clock when his former line-mate officiated his first game on February 25, 1984. He scored just two in his last 17 games, none in the 12 subsequent playoffs, and only two in 19 games at the start of the 1984-1985 campaign.

“I never had anything against Guy. I was there to win games and try to improve the players, supported the one who won the Stanley Cup at the top of the Devils in 1995. I think we made it. We made it to the club final. The following year, several players had good seasons, such as [Guy] carbonneau, [Mario] Tremblay and [Pierre] Mondo. Too bad Guy only played 19 games.

Guy Lafleur | 1951-2022

Mar. 30, 1991 – An ovation for Guy Lafleur in his last game at the Forum, wearing the Nordiques shirt. Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Guy Lafleur during his years at Le Canadien Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images

Guy Lafleur André Toto Gingras THE MONTREAL JOURNAL/QMI AGENCY

The Canadian Hockey Club presents the recipients of the 2017-2018 Guy-Lafleur Excellence and Merit Awards CHANTAL POIRIER / LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Guy Lafleur during the final game of his farewell tour at the Bell Center on Sunday December 5, 2010. Sébastien St-Jean / 24Heures / Agency QMI

September 11, 1971 – On the eve of his first training camp with the Montreal Canadiens, Guy Lafleur took his first opportunity to skate on the Forum rink. In the photo he is with Jean Béliveau. Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Autographed photo of Guy Lafleur in his Quebec Remparts uniform courtesy

Guy Lafleur at the retirement evening of Guy Lafleur’s number 4 at the Slush Puppie Center in Gatineau on Wednesday 29th September 2021 MARTIN CHEVALIER / LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Guy Lafleur and his banner as part of the retirement evening of Guy Lafleur’s number 4 at the Slush Puppie Center in Gatineau on Wednesday 29th September 2021 MARTIN CHEVALIER / LE JOURNAL DE MONTREAL

Guy Lafleur’s final game against the Quebec Nordiques on March 30, 1991 in Montreal Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Sculpture by Guy Lafleur in bronze Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Guy Lafleur, Pee-Wee Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament Collection, Modern Photo Fund

Guy Lafleur, Pee-Wee Quebec Pee-Wee Tournament Collection, Modern Photo Fund

Guy Lafleur and the trophies of Art Ross, Conn Smythe and Lester B. Pearson, Montreal Forum, 1976 Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

Guy Lafleur, then a member of Team Canada, signs autographs during practice for the Canada Cup, Montreal 1976 Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

Chicago Blackhawks Guy Lafleur and goaltender Murray Bannerman #30, Montreal Forum 1980 Denis Brodeur/NHLI via Getty Images

Guy Lafleur and goaltender Mike Palmateer of the Toronto Maple Leafs Dick Darrell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

March 7, 1975 – Guy Lafleur becomes the first player in Canadian history to score 100 points in a single season in an 8-4 win over the Washington Capitals Archive / Le Journal de Montreal

Guy Lafleur on the bench during Game 3 vs. Boston Bruins, Boston Gardens, 1977 Dick Raphael/Sports Illustrated via Getty Images

Announcing the first retirement of Guy Lafleur The Archives / The Journal of Montreal

The QMJHL restores Guy Lafleur’s number 4 on Thursday, October 28, 2021 at the Videotron Center in Quebec STEVENS LEBLANC / JOURNAL DE QUEBEC / QMI AGENCY

Shocked by the news

It is said that the blond demon was angry with his former comrade for a long time. And it’s not clear, even if you ask Jacques Lemaire, if the two ended up making peace.

“This guy’s opinion of me has changed, I don’t care. I don’t care that he doesn’t like me. Mine has never changed, he claimed, assuring that he would be present at Number 10’s funeral next Tuesday. Guy Lafleur is and will always be the Guy Lafleur I knew. I have always felt a friendship for him and great respect for what he has achieved.

Furthermore, the departure of Thurso’s pride rocked his former center player, as did all his teammates and the Canadians’ millions of supporters.

“I hadn’t seen him for a few years but Steve Shutt told me he wasn’t doing well. The 76-year-old said he even told me that he would not be coming in the summer. But as Larry [Robinson] told me the news of his death, it shook me.

An ace under the stars

Shutt, Lemaire and Lafleur were possibly the most prolific unit of the 1970s. Their efforts contributed greatly to the four consecutive Stanley Cup conquests of 1976–79.

“We had a damn good team. There were some good players: [Ken] Dryden, [Serge] Savard, Larry [Robinson]Spicy [Guy Lapointe] and Ivan [Cournoyer], Lemaire listed. But on top of all those guys, we had an ace. It’s not for nothing that we’ve won so many Stanley Cups.

“Guy was in a class by himself. If we needed a goal, he could score it. When we got to the end of a game and we were behind, he pushed even harder to get that goal and win the team. He’s always been like this,” Lemaire concluded.

The famous May 10, 1979 goal against the Bruins

During their union, Guy Lafleur and Jacques Lemaire combined their efforts for 176 goals for the Canadiens. The tally shows 214 if we add up the 38 playoff nets they were involved in.

Obviously, the most famous of all was scored on May 10, 1979: the one that allowed the Habs to put game seven of the semifinals against Boston into overtime.

Almost 43 years later, everyone knows that the shot came from Lafleur’s cane. But some have forgotten that Lemaire’s back pass made the shot possible.


patience and precision

Number 25 was kind enough to relive what he believed to be one of the most significant moments in the organization’s history.

“The guy gave me the puck first. At that point, all I wanted was to be able to get into the Bruins’ zone, Lemaire said. Guy had a very accurate shot but I didn’t want to give him the puck right away because it still gave the goalie more chances to stop it. I figured if I could get as far forward as possible and he could move himself forward 10 or 15 feet, he’d be in a better position to take his shot. I wanted to put the puck in the right spot so he could practically shoot at reception. And that is exactly what happened.”

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