One of my most cherished memories is the time in the mid-70’s (or so) that I flew back to Montreal on the same plane as my adored Montreal Canadiens (I had just moved to Vancouver so I had not yet become the fervent Canucks fan that I have now become, and besides, you don’t get to fly with hockey teams any longer).
To say I was in awe of my heroes is about as big an under-statement as to say Donald Trump is a despicable man.
I gaped and gawped for 6 hours at Larry Robinson, Guy Tremblay, Steve Shutt, Serge Tremblay, the unapproachable Scotty Bowman, Yvan Cournoyer, and a host of other already-legends and soon-to-be Hall-of-Famers.
But what really stood out – still does – on that flight was when I went to the back of the plane to use the washroom, and standing there – right beside little old in-awe me – were Guy Lafleur and Pierre Larouche, drinks in hand and smoking and talking up the flight attendants (who back then were called stewardesses), and who were, needless to say, totally charmed by the two hockey stars.
My memory is not what it used to be (was it ever?) but I remember that Guy must have stood back there for most of the flight (Larry Robinson read a book much of the flight, I think Rick Green was perusing financial news, some of the players played cards), Scotty scowled and even, I think, growled), but as I seem to remember it, Guy (along with Pierre) spent much of the time in the back, smoking (even then, Guy had a reputation as a smoker) and chatting (which is why I visited the washroom at least 7 times).
Anyway, all of this is to say that I was not too surprised when a few years ago, my icon, The Flower, was diagnosed with lung cancer, and very sadly, a recent report claims that Guy has suffered a recurrence of his cancer and is back in hospital.
It’s so hard in this social media era where heroes come and go every 20 minutes to adequately describe just how much Guy Lafleur meant to so many people for so many years, but times were simpler then and it’s not much of an exaggeration to say that all so many of us waited all week long for back then was to tune in to CBC on Saturday night and once again watch Guy Lafleur fly down the right wing, hair cascading back, eyes focused rigidly on one thing only and that was to shoot that puck, and so often, of course, scoring a beauty.
Anyway, from this one once most adoring fan, my fervent wishes, Guy, that you beat back this new reversal and stick around for many more years.