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Canadian hockey legend Guy Lafleur dies at 70

Guy Lafleur has died at age 70, the Montreal Canadiens hockey team announced Friday. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019.
Richard Wolowicz
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Guy Lafleur has died at age 70, the Montreal Canadiens hockey team announced Friday. He had been diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019.

Guy Damien Lafleur, one of the greatest hockey players to take to the ice, has died at age 70.

Fans of the Montreal Canadiens hockey team paid tribute to the fallen legend Friday, leaving flowers at the base of the Guy Lafleur statue that stands outside the Bell Centre in downtown Montreal. Though the team didn't identify a cause of death, Lafleur had been battling lung cancer for nearly three years.

Born Sept. 20, 1951, in Thurso, Quebec, Lafleur was a natural on the ice. As an amateur, he played for the Quebec Remparts, scoring 130 goals and 209 points in his last season and leading the team to win the 1971 Memorial Cup, according to the National Hockey League.

Lafleur's career spanned 20 years, all but six of which he spent with the Montreal Canadiens, the team for which he won five Stanley Cup championships, four consecutively, in the 1970s. He is the Canadiens' all-time high scorer, with 1,246 points.

In 1984, Lafleur announced he would be retiring at the end of the season. The Canadiens retired his No. 10 jersey at the end of the 1984-85 season, but Lafleur didn't stay off the ice for long. He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1988 before shocking the world once again, the NHL said, announcing he would play once more, this time with the New York Rangers.

But Lafleur spent only one season in the States, returning to Canada to play for the Quebec Nordiques for two seasons before finally hanging up his skates in 1991.

Lafleur was diagnosed with lung cancer in 2019. Doctors removed a lobe on one of his lungs just two months after he underwent a quadruple-bypass heart surgery in September 2019.

One year later, the cancer came back.

The Lafleur family released a statement through the Canadiens' Twitter account this past March, thanking fans for their overwhelming love and support as the hockey great continued his fight against cancer.

Lafleur is survived by two sons, Mark and Martin, and his wife, Lise, the Canadian Broadcast Corp. reported.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Dustin Jones
Dustin Jones is a reporter for NPR's digital news desk. He mainly covers breaking news, but enjoys working on long-form narrative pieces.