BROSSARD — The death of Guy Lafleur has deeply affected interim head coach Martin St-Louis.
During a press briefing at the Bell Sports Complex on Friday, St-Louis recounted an important gesture from the legendary Hall of Famer who will forever hold a special place in his heart.
When St-Louis, France’s mother died suddenly in May 2014, Lafleur and fellow Canadiens compatriot Réjean Houle attended the funeral service in Laval, the day before Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the New York Rangers.
Then a member of the Rangers, St-Louis and his father, Normand, were touched by the presence of Lafleur during such a difficult time in their lives.
« His presence at my mother’s funeral allowed me to understand the human being that he was and to see how kind he is, » said Mr. St-Louis. “There are people who impact you without doing much, just by watching how they behave and how they go about their lives. I learned a lot from Guy that day. He’s just a great example. »
Video: Martin St-Louis on his favorite Lafleur moments
St. Louis was a longtime fan of the five-time Stanley Cup champion, whom he affectionately called his « favorite first player » and described him as « electrifying » in every sense of the word.
The 46-year-old fondly remembers watching Lafleur play on television alongside his family, which ultimately helped spark his passion for the sport.
“My memory of Guy is when he was carrying the puck at full speed. It’s her hair in the wind. When he carried the puck, it was like saying, « I’m going to score a goal. » He had authority and confidence, and everyone in the amphitheater knew that,” recalled St-Louis. “Even when we watched the games in the living room, when Guy started playing, we got up because something exciting was probably going to happen. That’s the memory I have of Guy, he skated without his helmet. He was a superhero. »
A « superhero » with an unparalleled work ethic and class that the Canadiens’ interim head coach held in the highest regard, both as an athlete and as a person.
Asked about the legacy Lafleur leaves behind, St-Louis delivered a poignant response.
“Guy didn’t just make an impact with his stats. Guy was the face of the Canadians. He wasn’t just the face of the Canadiens because of his game. I heard he was there four hours before a game. He was a pro. He played with a lot of passion. If he didn’t score one night, he would ask Michel Larocque to show up early the next morning so he could shoot 200 pucks before practice,” mentioned St-Louis. “It’s not just talent that has made Guy Lafleur’s career. The more we hear the elders speak and listen to their stories about him, the more we realize this. When we talk about his impact, he helped all the young players who came after him and saw him do that. »
Mr. Lafleur’s passing at the age of 70 was undoubtedly hard for the Hall of Famer to accept.
He joined people around the world in expressing his sadness after hearing the devastating news.
“It’s hard to imagine that a legend like that passed away so young. He had a huge impact in the NHL, in the world of hockey, and especially for the Montreal Canadiens and the province of Quebec. It’s very difficult,” said Mr. St-Louis. “It’s a huge loss. It is heavy. Guy was not only an excellent hockey player, one of the best of all time, he was also an excellent human being off the ice. »