Guy Guy Lafleur died a few weeks ago and the Montreal Canadiens and their adherents showed class and love as they cheered for him one last time.
They know how to love each other, and “Guy Guy” from small town Quebec was everyone’s ami. Lung cancer got him.
From his early days in Thurso, Que., to his years dominating the NHL, he never lost his French Canadian flair, and he was toujours every man’s man.
Back on Aug. 15, 2018, I chatted with Guy Guy as the sun came up over Niagara-on-the-Lake. I was down at the sailing club to see my son off on his Kayak for the Cure adventure to Toronto, by which he raised some $14,000 for cancer research. His 51-kilometre solo paddle took nine hours and one minute. Lon-n-n-guh.
There was a big wooden power boat tied up about 50 metres away and my curiosity drew me to it.
On the deck, in a boring T-shirt and shorts, was Guy Lafleur. Quietly cleaning and polishing some brass fixtures, he looked up and nodded, “Bonjour.” He and a few friends had been in NOTL for three days, quietly enjoying our town.
Riding bicycles to several wineries, jet boating twice, a cold beer or two at Oast House, what an area we live in, eh?
Now, my French is pretty good, after four years living, laughing and working in Montreal in the 1970s. Night school and neighbours, lots of hard work, and then a year in Strasbourg, France, et voila, I was functionally bilingue.
I learned a long time ago that if you meet a celebrity, don’t talk to them about what made them a celebrity. Maybe chat about a favourite charity, in this case my son’s fundraiser for cancer. The weather was perfect, so we talked about the perfect weather. That’s what Canadians do, eh?
Our half-hour together was a true delight, in my erreur-filled French and his thick and rapide quebecois. They were going to be leaving in an hour or three for Toronto. I said, “If you see a solo kayaker with a big support boat in the area, give the horn a toot, and yell, 'Bon chance, Scott.' ”
He did, at about the 25-kilometre mark of Scott's solo kayaking marathon. Guy Guy.
Multiple Stanley Cups, MVP award, NHL leading scorer and a true hockey legend, and he took time to wish a young man the best to fight cancer.
Guy Guy. Guy. Number 10. The Flower. Adieu. R.I.P.
Now, it would be piling on to mention the most recent end of yet another inefficacious season for Leaf Nation. The target is too ripe and plump. However, 55 years, and still they come up short. Now, the Leafs are on the golf course and their sycophantic scribblers, fawning talking heads on television and masochistic enablers are temporarily silenced. What a relief, eh?
Already, they are waiting for next year. They will talk about how the great Mitch Marner intentionally banked the puck off the goaltender’s leg pad to the magnificent Auston Matthews, who won Game 5 with a quicksand-deft redirect. The sad thing is, Leaf fans believe this endless malarkey.
Even ex-pro hockey player, NOTLer Terry Maguire from Kirkland Lake (like me) would never have tried such a dream play.
Hockey is a great game, when played properly and within the rules. But what am I going to do for the next month, now that I can’t subtly hope the Leafs lose?
Think positive. Test negative. Stay healthy. The deadly global endemic continues.