Guy Damien Lafleur, born September 20, 1951 in Thurso, Quebec, Canada, is one of the greatest and most popular players ever to play professional ice hockey.
As a small boy his love of hockey was such that he would sleep in his hockey outfit then be up at the crack of dawn to race to the locked skating rink where he found a way inside to practise. As an adult, his enthusiasm never waned, and he would be in his hockey uniform, skates tied tight, sweater on and a stick in hand at 4 o'clock in the afternoon for an 8 o'clock game.
In his teens, Lafleur gained considerable recognition for his play as a member of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec junior league where led his team to the Memorial Cup in 1971. Montreal Canadiens' astute General Manager, Sam Pollock was keen to find a way to ensure Lafleur wound up in a Montreal uniform and made a trade with the California Golden Seals to obtain their first round draft pick. Drafted No.1 overall, Lafleur went on to play right wing in the National Hockey League from 1971-1972 through the 1984-1985 season; after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Lafleur returned to the NHL briefly from 1988-1989 through 1990-1991 with the New York Rangers and the Quebec Nordiques (now Colorado Avalanche).
Lafleur started his major league-level hockey career in 1971 with the once dominant Montreal Canadiens. During the 1970s, he was a part of five Stanley Cup championship teams, scored a Canadiens franchise record 1,246 points (518 goals and 728 assists), and lead the NHL in scoring in 1976, 1977, and 1978 (Art Ross Trophy). After Montreal won the Stanley Cup in 1978, he borrowed it for the weekend without telling anyone to show his friends back home in Thurso where he set it out on his front lawn for all his neighbors to see!
He became the first player in NHL history to score at least 50 goals and 100 points in six consecutive seasons. In some regards, Lafleur was the predecessor to the rise of hockey superstar Wayne Gretzky during the 1980s and 1990s. Just as importantly, he played with a thrilling style that marked him out as the most exciting professional hockey player of his era and, arguably, of all time.
Overall, Lafleur won three Art Ross Trophies, two Hart Memorial Trophies (most valuable to his team), three Lester B. Pearson Awards (NHL outstanding player), and one Conn Smythe Trophy (most valuable player in the playoffs). He was a member of the Canadian team in the 1976 and 1981 Canada Cup tournaments, winning the Canada Cup in 1976, and was the recipient of the Lou Marsh Award as Canada's most outstanding athlete in 1977. Lafleur was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 and the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame in 1996. Along with Gordie Howe before him and Mario Lemieux after him, Lafleur is one of only three players to have returned to the NHL after being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame. He still holds the record for the most career point and assist totals in Montreal Canadiens history, as well as the second-highest goal total behind Maurice "Rocket" Richard. Lafleur was the sixth Montreal Canadiens' player to have his sweater number retired.
What makes his career even more amazing, was his two-pack a day cigarette habit.