Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Guy Lafleur Autographed Card

It's been a while, but my desktop computer (with over a hundred scans of possibly upcoming features as well as mouse and everything I liked writing on) has failed me, and it took me a while between work (day job as a translator and gigs playing music), sleep and Life to set my laptop up to post. But I think I'm good to go, and I want to start with a bang: Hall Of Famer Guy Lafleur, who lost a civil lawsuit against Montréal police earlier today.

I had previously featured him with the Montréal Canadiens and Québec Nordiques, as well as a book (an autobiography) he's signed and sent me a couple of years ago, but I thought I could go with a card showing the entirety of his NHL career:
It's card #403 from Score's 1991-92 Score (American) set that shows him in the Habs' classic bleu-blanc-rouge uniform (right), the Nordiques' home (white) uniform (left), and the New York Rangers' white (then-home) uniform, the team he came out of retirement to play for in between stints playing for teams from La Belle Province.

As it stands, Lafleur is the Canadiens' all-time points leader with 1246 (from 518 goals and 728 assists) in 961 games, forming the best line of its era with Jacques Lemaire and Steve Shutt on what was perhaps the best team of all time. He won a Conn Smythe Trophy in 1977, three consecutive Art Ross trophies, three consecutive Lester B. Pearson Awards (MVP as voted by the players, now known as the Ted Lindsay), and two consecutive Harts (while finishing top-5 in voting for five straight seasons) to go with five straight Stanley Cups.

Ironically, it was Lemaire's turn to coaching who forced the six-time 50-goal scorer into an early retirement, as the hard-line defensive coach was unhappy with his two-way play (or lack thereof) resulting in him getting relegated to third-line duties and scarce playing time.

Four years after retiring, following his induction into the Hall Of Fame, he managed to put up 18 goals and 45 points in 67 games with the 1988-89 Rangers, followed by 24 goals, 38 assists, 62 points and an All-Star Game appearance in 98 games spread over two seasons with the Nordiques to cap off a legendary career that also saw him suit up for Team Canada at two Canada Cups (winning in 1976 and finishing runner-up to the Soviet Union in 1981), as well as the 1979 Challenge Cup (losing the series 2-1 to the Soviets) and at the 1981 World Championships.

He signed that card for me at the Bell Centre, a year and a half ago, during the 2013 playoffs, around the same time he heavily criticized (current Habs captain) Max Pacioretty's failings at stepping up in the postseason.

These days, Lafleur operates a helicopter and transportation company and acts as a Canadiens ambassador, but always speaks openly and honestly about the team, often criticizing them when he doesn't like where they're headed. He has also operated restaurants once his playing career was actually over.

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