From the archives 2005: Top 10 Habs - No. 3 Guy Lafleur: Born to wear the CH on his chest

 

 
 
 

Editor's note: This story was originally published in January 2005.

When the NHL lockout finally ends, Red Fisher will begin his 50th season on the Canadiens beat. In this feature series, which concludes today, Red picks his Top 10 Habs from the last half-century.

---

MONTREAL - When the NHL lockout finally ends, Red Fisher will begin his 50th season on the Canadiens beat. In this continuing feature series, Red picks his Top 10 Canadiens from the last half-century.

In any determination of who ranks as the best of the NHL right-wingers, don't look beyond Rocket Richard and Gordie Howe - for all of the right reasons. Where, though, does Guy Lafleur rate insofar as the Canadiens are concerned?

I saw Richard only during his last five seasons. I saw only flashes of greatness of the man who had been the first player in NHL history to score 50 goals in 50 games. So answer this: during the last half-century, was there a more exciting right-winger than Lafleur, golden mane flying, skipping and dancing beyond one man and then another? Does it get better than Lafleur, in one motion, releasing that wonderfully accurate shot which had stirred the souls of so many fans for so many seasons?

At his best - in 961 regular-season and 124 playoff games with the Canadiens - Lafleur was not merely hockey's finest and most exciting player. He was its artist and its sculptor.

His speed and shot had produced 518 regular-season goals, only 26 fewer than Richard had produced in 978 games. He could transform ordinary games into things of beauty.

He won the scoring title three times - a distinction Richard never reached. He was the NHL's most valuable player twice. He won the Conn Smythe Trophy once, and was on the NHL's first all-star team six times. He scored 50 goals or more in six consecutive seasons. He was the best of his time.

Lafleur was one of those rare talents who was a man even